On Tuesday (September 15) the Australian challenger for the Americas Cup, Gretel 2, meets the United States defender, Intrepid, in the first of the seried of seven sail offs of Newport, Rhode Island.
On Tuesday (September 15) the Australian challenger for the Americas Cup, Gretel 2, meets the United States defender, Intrepid, in the first of the seried of seven sail offs of Newport, Rhode Island. For the first time this year in the long history of the event, two challengers presented themselves - France and Australia. In a series of pre-event heats, the Australian contender beat the French vessel on four consecutive occasions, leaving Gretel 2 as the surviving threat to America's recent supremacy in the event.
In the "pre-series proper" events the competition between France and Australia was very keen, despite Gretel 2's convincing victory.
The two boats raced over an Americas Cup course, located six miles (9 1/2 kms) West South West of the actual Americas Cup buoy. The races were conducted by an international jury, comprising judges from Italy, Norway and West Germany.
The Australian victory over France has given the Southern hemisphere yachtsmen a chance to avenge their Americas Cup defeat in 1967 when Intrepid beat Dame Pattie.
The French contender was sponsored by Baron Marcel Bich. The defeat of his yacht in its bid to vie for the world's premier yachting trophy came after he, himself had taken the helm in the fourth and final race.
The United States entry, Intrepid, selected after she recorded her sixth successive win over Valiant, a boat built expressly to complete in the event, becomes the first yacht to defend the coveted cup twice in a row since Columbia did it against Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock 1 and 2 in 1899 and 1901.
The scene is now set for the "race proper". America again believes it is invincible - Australia with Gretel 2, feels it at last has a chance to take the Cup home. Only the next week will provide the answer - and the victor.