Husband, wife set their sails

January 18, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- When Annie Nelson left here yesterday at 6 a.m. for a morning run with the America3 America's Cup team, her husband, Bruce, said he told her, "Good luck, honey. Enjoy your workout. I think I'll roll over and sleep another 30 minutes."

Six hours later, Bruce and Annie Nelson were on the Pacific Ocean off Point Loma -- preparing to sail against one another in the Citizen Cup defender elimination trials.

Bruce, who is 42, was aboard PACT '95 as a replacement strategist, and Annie, 35, had been rotated in as navigator aboard America3.

The changes, which set up the first husband-wife competition in these races, proved more fruitful for PACT '95, as the women's team lost again.

"Tonight I think I will just congratulate her on a great race," Bruce Nelson said afterward. "It really wasn't as bad a race for them as it might have seemed."

But by the time the race was over, Bruce Nelson had been largely responsible for a 3-minute, 32-second victory on a fluky, light-air day.

America3, the first all-women's team to sail in America's Cup competition, has not won a race since Friday when it defeated Team Dennis Conner to open the regatta.

In winds around 5 knots from the northwest yesterday, America3 won the start by five seconds, but PACT '95 started in better position, sailing Young America to windward, off the quarter and able to tack away to stronger wind on the right side of the course.

"J. J. [Isler] did a good job at the start," said Dawn Riley, who moved in as helmsman on America3. "But on that first leg, we were using all our stupid chips and didn't get the boat moving."

By the first mark on the 18.55 mile windward leeward course, Young America had built a lead of 3 minutes, 11 seconds. By the second windward mark, the lead was 12 minutes, 3 seconds.

"Kenny Read had the flu, so Bruce took his place. He chose to sail right and protect the right," said Young America skipper Kevin Mahaney. "Local knowledge paid off."

"We just took too long to react today," said Riley. "After the race [all the right moves] become so clear -- and then you kick yourself."

Afterward, Bruce Nelson was asked how Annie Nelson would react to her losing and his winning.

"I haven't seen her since the race," Nelson said. "But she'll be happy. She's always pleased to see my new boats go fast -- because that's where the money comes from."

America3, after four straight races, gets today off. Team Dennis Conner, which has not raced since Saturday, will be matched against PACT '95.

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