It is a case of two "firsts'' for Dennis Conner:
first to lose the cup, first to win it back.
Dennis Conner is also the only four time skipper
in America's Cup history, with FREEDOM in 1980, LIBERTY
in 1983, and STARS & STRIPES in 1987 and his catamaran
called STARS & STRIPES in 1988. He lost the Cup
in 1983 with LIBERTY, and regained it on STARS &
STRIPES in 1987.
It was during the losing series that Dennis Conner
showed the skill and courage that were to become his
trademarks. AUSTRALIA II was a faster boat, thanks
primarily to a revolutionary keel and hull shape.
She was significantly faster than LIBERTY, faster
than a challenger had ever been relative to a defender.
To win, Dennis Conner had to be almost perfect, and
he was for three of the seven races In the deciding
race that he lost, the lead changed many times with
LIBERTY ahead much of the way. On the strength of
his character alone, Dennis Conner almost succeeded
in winning against unbelievable odds. "It was
a sad day when we lost the Cup in 1983", Conner
said. "We had two choices for the 1987 America's
Cup competition. We could stay home and watch it on
television or mount a campaign to win it back."
It was no surprise that Dennis Conner took the second
option. The 1987 America's Cup was no ordinary race.
American technology and pride were on the line when
Dennis Conner and STARS & STRIPES challenged KOOKABURRA
III in Fremantle, Australia. Dennis Conner and his
crew sailed close to a perfect series to win in four
straight races. "It seems to me that Dennis had
a little bit over everyone else in the world just
in this last bit of the regatta", lain Murray,
skipper of KOOKABURRA III, said after the fourth race.
In the controversial 1988 America's Cup challenge
that went all the way to the New York Supreme Court,
Dennis Conner defeated Sir Michael Fay's 120' NEW
ZEALAND 2-0 on STARS & STRIPES, the first catamaran
to ever compete in America's Cup racing. In 1992,
Dennis Conner and STARS & STRIPES went head to
head with Bill Koch and AMERICA3 in the defender trials.
In the best-of-thirteen finals, STARS & STRIPES
lost to AMERICA3 4-7.