John Bertrand skippered AUSTRALIA II to a 4-3 victory
over LIBERTY, wresting the America's Cup from the
New York Yacht Club, which had held it for 132 years.
The great grandson of Thomas Pearkes, the English
master engineer who prepared the challenging America's
Cup yachts for Sir Thomas Lipton, John Bertrand had
a score to settle. He did it magnificently on September
26, 1983 when he won the seventh race against Dennis
Conner and LIBERTY. There had never been a seventh
or even a sixth race in the history of America's Cup
There was no question that AUSTRALIA II was faster
than LIBERTY - faster than a challenger had ever been
relative to a defender. AUSTRALIA II was built with
a secret winged keel that provided excellent windward
ability while permitting very low wetted surface in
a yacht of minimum rule size, the winning combination
for conditions in Newport. In the penultimate race
dubbed "The Race of the Century," the lead
changed several times until AUSTRALIA II gained 1
minute and 21 seconds in the crucial sixth leg of
the race in a dying southerly wind off Newport.
Bertrand applied a near perfect cover during a 47
tack fight to the finish area and crossed the line
41 seconds ahead of LIBERTY.