John Longley is a veteran of five Australian campaigns for the America’s Cup, including four straight Cup Matches, winning the Cup in 1983. After his career as a 12-Metre Class sailor and team manager, he contributed to the America’s Cup by participating in the development of the America’s Cup Class.
John Longley’s involvement in the 1983 Australia II campaign marked the high point of his career as a yachtsman. Longley helped Skipper John Bertrand select the crew for Australia II; he choreographed the team’s actions for tacking, jibing and other maneuvers via detailed step-by-step instructions; and served in the crew as a grinder.
In addition to his contributions on the water, Longley served as Australia II’s Project Manager, managing the campaign’s day-to-day operations from January 1981 until Executive Director Warren Jones took over in the summer of 1983, to allow Longley to focus on racing the boat. While manager, Longley was responsible, among other things, for coordinating the building of Australia II and the construction of her keel. He leveraged his experience in the grinder pit and foredeck to co-design the boat’s deck layout with yacht designer Ben Lexcen.
At age 41, Longley retired from Cup sailing after completing one final stint as manager and grinder for Australia IV in the 1986 Cup defense trials in Australia. But his contributions to the Cup did not end there. Following the contentious 1988 Match, Longley co-authored the “San Diego Protocol”, which established the challengers’ rights and their method of challenging the defender in an orderly manner. This document was significant for three reasons: first, it made possible a smooth transition from the 1988 match to the 1992 match; second, it ushered in the International America’s Cup Class (IACC) which replaced the 12-Metre class; and, finally, it was a prototype for future protocols. Longley, while serving as the watchdog of the Protocol, was the chair and convener of the conference of designers who developed the IACC rule.
In 1984, Longley was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to yachting. He is currently serving as the Event Director for the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in Fremantle in 2011.