America3's 'first' leaves Conner at a loss AMERICA'S CUP 1995 dTC

January 14, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Dennis Conner, who has won four America's Cups -- more than anyone alive -- lost the first race of the Citizen Cup defender elimination series yesterday to America3, an all-woman team sailing in cup eliminations for the first time.

"I now have the best losing record of any skipper in the Cup, too," said Conner, who is the only American to have lost the Cup. "First there was the loss to the Australians [in 1983] and now there is this one.

"Talk about firsts."

The victory was worth only one point in the four-month regatta leading to the America's Cup match in May, but it was a major step for a defense syndicate that was put together in little more than a year by Kansas oilman Bill Koch.

"We're all really excited that we won, but we realize that this is only one race and Dennis and his team will be coming at us again," said America3 skipper Leslie Egnot. "The excitement already is winding down."

In yesterday's race, Conner's troubles began early as Stars and Stripes fouled America3 in prestart maneuvers. As a penalty for not allowing America3 right of way, the San Diego team was required to sail a 270 degree turn after crossing the starting line 3 seconds behind the women's boat.

As Stars and Stripes completed its penalty turn, America3 sailed up the first leg with windward position and superior boat speed.

Winds were 6 to 11 knots from the WSW and swells on the Pacific Ocean off Point Loma were 4 to 7 feet.

"In essence, the race was over at that point," said Conner. "America3 had a 600- to 700-feet lead and did a good job with it through the rest of the race.

"It is a well-deserved victory."

By the first mark, America3 led by 1 minute, 40 seconds.

Afterward, even though America3 had problems with some sail changes, Stars and Stripes gained only on the first leg downwind, picking up 32 seconds and cutting the deficit to 1:08.

At the finish, the margin was 1:09.

l,3 America3 and Team Dennis Conner will race again today.

The Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers also opens today and the key match could be Japan's Nippon Challenge against John Bertrand's oneAustralia.

Bertrand is the man who beat Conner in 1983 to become the only foreigner to win the America's Cup.

AMERICA'S CUP SUMMARY

DEFENDERS

Yesterday's conditions at the start were winds WSW at 6 knots. Seas were 4 to 7 feet.

Team Dennis Conner (0-1) vs. America3 (1-0)

Start: ..America3 ..+00:00:03 ..1st leg: ..America3 ..+00:01:40

2nd leg:.America3 ..+00:01:08 ..3rd leg: ..America3 ..+00:01:19

4th leg:.America3 ..+00:01:19 ..5th leg: ..America3 ..+00:01:24

6th leg:.America3 ..+00:01:09 ..Time: .. ..America3 ....2:29:05

Today's race: America3 vs. Team Dennis Conner.

Bye: Pact '95.

2(Tomorrow's race: PACT '95 vs. America3.

CHALLENGERS

Today's races: Race 1, Team New Zealand vs. Spain; Race 2, France vs. Sydney '95 (Australia); Race 3, Nippon Challenge vs. oneAustralia.

Bye: Win New Zealand.

Tomorrow's races: Race 1, Nippon vs. Win New Zealand; Race 2, Team New Zealand vs. France; Race 3, Sydney 95 vs. Spain.

` Bye: oneAustralia.

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