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25th America's Cup
Defender  United States
Defender club:New York Yacht Club
Yacht:Liberty
Challenger  Australia
Challenger club:Royal Perth Yacht Club
Yacht:Australia II
Competition
Location:Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Dates:14–26 September 1983
Rule:12-metre
Winner:Royal Perth Yacht Club
Score:4–3

The 1983 America's Cup was the occasion of the first winning challenge to the New York Yacht Club, which had successfully defended the cup over a period of 132 years. An Australian syndicate representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club fielded the Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, against defender Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner. Australia II won the match races after fighting back from a 3–1 deficit to win the America's Cup, ending the longest winning streak in sporting history and ending U.S. domination of the racing series.

The defender: Liberty

Skippered by team principal Dennis Conner, Liberty won all the Defender trials and on 2 September 1983, the New York Yacht Club confirmed that Liberty was to represent the NYYC as defender of the America's Cup.[1]

During the summer preceding the trials, Conner had been the focus of extensive media attention in the U.S. He was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, a rare recognition for a sailor.[citation needed] Skippered by team principal Dennis Conner, Liberty won all the Defender trials and on 2 September 1983, the New York Yacht Club confirmed that Liberty was to represent the NYYC as defender of the America's Cup.[1]

During the summer preceding the trials, Conner had been the focus of extensive media attention in the U.S. He was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, a rare recognition for a sailor.[citation needed]

The crew included Connor as skipper, Tom Whidden, navigator Halsey Chase Herreshoff, Scott Vogel, and mainsheet trimmer John Marshall.

Liberty had competed with John Kolius' Courageous and Tom Blackaller's Defender in a defender series before being selected by the New York Yacht Club.[2] Gary Jobson was the founder and tactician of the Courageous/Defender syndicate.[3]

The challenger: Australia II

The U.S. yacht won the first and second races by margins of more than a minute when the Australian yacht suffered equipment failure, but the Australia II took the third race, and came back to win the fifth and sixth races after Libe

Australia II dominated the challenger series and entered the America's Cup finals as the most promising contender to date.

The U.S. yacht won the first and second races by margins of more than a minute when the Australian yacht suffered equipment failure, but the Australia II took the third race, and came back to win the fifth and sixth races after Liberty won the fourth. This was the first time the America's Cup had needed a sixth race, let alone a seventh.[5]

Date Winner Yacht Loser Yacht Score Delta
14 September 1983 Liberty US-40 [6] Liberty won the start by eight seconds ahead of Australia II on paper but the Australians held a controlling position at the favoured end sailing toward the favoured side which gave them the early lead. Australia II was subsequently overtaken by Conner who built up what seemed to be an unassailable margin. At the start of the penultimate leg (a square run) the America's Cup looked like it would stay in Newport. Conner failed to cover Australia II which allowed them to run deeper and faster assisted by breeze and windshifts allowing Australia II to overtake the Americans by the leeward mark. Conner then engaged Australia II in a spectacular tacking duel with nearly 50 tacks including a number of faked "dummy" tacks trying to break the Australians' cover. Australia II held on until both boats reached the starboard layline in amongst the spectator fleet and tacked several boat lengths ahead of Liberty and sailed to the finish to take the race. Australia II crossed the finish line with a winning margin of 41 seconds, becoming the first successful challenger in the 132 years "since the schooner America won it in a race around England's Isle of Wight in 1851".[7]

Aftermath

The final race was televised in Australia in the early hours of 27 September 1983 (Australian time) just before dawn, and the victory was celebrated in public venues across Australia. Prime Minister Bob Hawke was interviewed at the dawn celebration in Claremont, Western Australia. After humorously fending off repeated questioning by journalists about whether he would declare a public holiday he admitted this was a state matter and outside his power as Prime Minister. He joked that he thought it should be and that any state Premiers who disagreed with him might "find themselves in a spot of bother". To rapturous laughter and applause he said with finality "Any boss who sacks a worke

The final race was televised in Australia in the early hours of 27 September 1983 (Australian time) just before dawn, and the victory was celebrated in public venues across Australia. Prime Minister Bob Hawke was interviewed at the dawn celebration in Claremont, Western Australia. After humorously fending off repeated questioning by journalists about whether he would declare a public holiday he admitted this was a state matter and outside his power as Prime Minister. He joked that he thought it should be and that any state Premiers who disagreed with him might "find themselves in a spot of bother". To rapturous laughter and applause he said with finality "Any boss who sacks a worker for not turning up today is a bum".[8]

The loss of the 1983 America's Cup was considered a time of shame in U.S. sailing, as the U.S. had been able to defend the Cup for 132 years. Dennis Conner took the loss hard. Asked about how he felt initially after losing the Cup Conner said: "It was awful. I just did not want to get out of bed in the morning

The loss of the 1983 America's Cup was considered a time of shame in U.S. sailing, as the U.S. had been able to defend the Cup for 132 years. Dennis Conner took the loss hard. Asked about how he felt initially after losing the Cup Conner said: "It was awful. I just did not want to get out of bed in the morning. I am usually full of life and energy... I just wanted to hide".[9]

The America's Cup was transferred from the New York Yacht Club to the Royal Perth Yacht Club located in Perth, Western Australia, which subsequently hosted its first, but unsuccessful, defense in the 1987 America's Cup. After losing the Cup the U.S. had been determined to bring it back. Conner went to work on the next US America's Cup Campaign. With the help of designers Britton Chance, Jr., Bruce Nelson and David Pedrick, the boat Stars and Stripes 87 was created which, after progressively gaining speed in a grueling challenger series, became the 1987 challenger. Stars and Stripes sailed against Kookaburra, the Australian defender, with Conner winning the 1987 America's Cup and returning it to the U.S.[7] The 1992 film Wind portrays in large part the loss of the 1983 Cup and the journey to regain it at the 1987 Challenge. While parts of the film take some creative license with the actual events, Wind has generally been acclaimed as the single most accurate and realistic sailing film ever made, capturing not only the technical and physical challenges of sailing, but also the realistic and daily culture and lifestyle of professional yachtsmen and yachtswomen.[10][full citation needed]

In retrospect, Conner said that losing the Cup in 1983 had been good for the sport of sailing and the Cup itself: "Me losing after 132 years was the best thing that ever happened to the America's Cup and the best thing that ever happened to Dennis Conner...Before the win by the Australians, the America's Cup was only big in the minds of the yachties, but the rest of the world didn't know or care about it at all. But when we lost it... it was a little bit like losing the Panama Canal - suddenly everyone appreciated it. If I hadn't lost it, there never would have been the national effort... without that there never would have been the ticker-tape parade up Fifth Avenue in New York, lunch with the President at the White House and all the doors of opportunity that it opened".[9]