Hawai`i Makes Its Bid
to Win 'Oldest Trophy in Sports'

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (9/05/98)
By Ray Pendleton

The year was 1848.

In Hawai`i, King Kamehameha III, second son of the first ruler of all the Islands, had signed the "Great Mahele" - a division of land between the chiefs, the crown and the government - which lead to private ownership.

And the following year, on the mainland, the great California gold rush created a land ownership transformation of its own.

But, in England, 1848 was a time for more leisurely pursuits. Queen Victoria commissioned a "One Hundred Guinea Cup" of solid silver to be raced for by the yachts of "all nations."

The Royal Yacht Club of Cowes, on England's south coast, hosted the regatta in 1851, around the nearby Isle of Wight. Sixteen British ships were entered, along with one lone American - the 101-foot schooner America, owned by a syndicate of New York Yacht Club members.

America easily won the Hundred Guinea Cup, primarily due to her advanced design, and in so doing, began an international yacht race which would to this day, rely on superiority based on state-of-the-art design.

After being taken to the U.S. - and surviving a plan to have it melted down to make commemorative medals for its owners - the "America's Cup" (as it was then called) was finally entrusted to the NYYC with the original Deed of Gift.

For the next 132 years, the NYYC hosted 25 international challenges for the America's Cup. First came English sailors, then Canadians, Irish, Scots and French, and finally the Australians.

As the challenges changed, so did the boat designs. From schooners, to "J-Boats," with their huge gaff-rigged mainsails, and finally to the much smaller 12-meter boats in the 1950s.

It was the design innovation of a winged keel on the Australian 12-meter Australia II in 1983, that helped her break NYYC's "longest winning streak in modern sports" and focus worldwide public attention on this historic race.

Australia defended the America's Cup in Fremantle in 1987, where America's Dennis Conner was able to win it back and bring it to his San Diego Yacht Club in California.

The SDYC hosted three America's Cup defenses, in '88, '92, and again in '95, when New Zealand's state-of-the-art Black Magic soundly defeated Conner's Young America 5-0.

The oldest trophy in sports will again be up for grabs when the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will host its America's Cup regatta in January, 2000.

Hawaii's challenger for entry in that race will be Aloha Racing's Abracadabra 2000, representing Waikiki Yacht Club.

Abracadabra 2000's skipper-to-be, John Kolius recently brought WYC members up to date on Aloha Racing's design and construction program.

"So far, we have tank-tested eight models and had the help of the state's super computer over on Maui," Kolius said. "And, there will be more models to come."

"Nevertheless, eleven weeks from now, construction will begin on the first of two boats at the Barber's Point Deep Draft Harbor. And, by next May we will be testing it off the Waianae coast, as it compares with the waters off of New Zealand."

And if the design is right, New Zealand may have to relinquish the America's Cup to Hawai`i in 2000.

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