The determined challenge by Australia to wrest the America's Cup from the United States is progressing rapidly - on two continents.
The determined challenge by Australia to wrest the America's Cup from the United States is progressing rapidly - on two continents. In the United States, the challenger itself, the 12-metre yacht Southern Cross, is preparing for the run-up series against the French entry, France. And in the United Kingdom the sails which could make or break the Australian challenge have been made and packed for despatch to the United States.
The sail was by Miller and Whitworth at Tichfield, near Southampton. The sailmaking firm involved is run by an expert - John Oakley, Britain's Soling helmsman at the lat Olympic Games.
The man who designed Southern Cross, Bob Miller, was at Tichfied on Thursday (27 June) to inspect progress on the sail. And after that flew on to Newport, Rhode Island in the United States where he'll supervise the Australian entry in the elimination round.
Southern Cross was shipped to Newport with its "trial horse" Gretel II - which three years ago was considered one of the fastest yachts in the world. However, Gretel's won America's Cup challenge, in 1970, was unsuccessful.
In trials at home, Southern Cross consistently defeated Gretel, boosting the confidence of the Australian challenge backer, businessman Alan Bond. To Bond, money is no object. The British-born signwriter, turned property developer, is determined to win the trophy, regardless of cost.
Southern Cross will continue the trials against Gretel at Newport, and then it's the elimination round against France.