Fourth win in row lands first place for Young America AMERICA'S CUP 1995

January 20, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Young America, the America's Cup racer with the golden-haired mermaid painted the length of its hull, was in an ugly position just after the start in its race yesterday against Stars and Stripes.

But before the race was over, the PACT '95 boat had posted a come-from-behind victory and at 4-0 was guaranteed first place in the first round-robin of the Citizen Cup defender trials.

Neither Team Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes nor America3, the women's team, can finish better than 3-3.

Stars and Stripes again was skippered by Paul Cayard, who in the 1992 America's Cup sailed challenger Il Moro for Italy against Bill Koch's America3.

"Our boat is not slow," said Young America strategist Kenny Read, "although it may seem that we are trying our hardest to slow her down at times.

"But we are learning about it by leaps and bounds."

Yesterday's race was a learning experience for the Young America crew.

"There were times out there today when it would have been easy for us to simply cash it in," said Read. "But we got a few shifts and caught up a bunch, and the boat did the rest."

Even though Young America had won the start by one second, the last of four protests in pre-start maneuvers had gone against skipper Kevin Mahaney, and while the PACT '95 racer made its 270-degree penalty turn, Stars and Stripes sailed on, building a lead of four boat lengths.

At the end of the second downwind leg of the 18.55 nautical mile race, Team Dennis Conner held a 32-second lead.

"At one point on the second run," said Stars and Stripes navigator Jim Brady, "we were about 1,000 feet ahead, and then they lost their jib halyard and that slowed them down a bit more.

"But when we looked again, Young America had the problem fixed and were coming on strong," said Brady.

On the last windward leg, Young America gained one minute, 31 seconds to take a 59-second lead on Stars and Stripes.

Sailing a tacking duel in light, shifty winds, Young America lee-bowed Stars and Stripes twice during the leg.

On the last downwind leg, Young America gained 4:01 to finish an even five minutes ahead of Stars and Stripes.

On the last leg, the yachts split gybes, guessing on which side of the course would carry a bit more wind.

"At the start of that last run it was still a boat race, considering the wind we had," Brady said, adding that the breeze had died to about 4 knots.

"And, being behind, we decided to go for it, but all the shifts on the leg went their way."

It was the second time in this regatta that Young America had come from behind to win.

In their first race of the series against America3, PACT '95 made a similar surge on the last leg to windward to overtake the women's team and win by 37 seconds.

Despite having only six days of practice on Young America before the start of this regatta, after four straight races, PACT '95 is sitting pretty -- for the first round, at least.

Stars and Stripes flew a protest flag yesterday because the 17th man on Young America was taking photographs at close quarters, a violation of regatta rules.

Cayard said the protest was settled over the phone once an understanding with Young America had been reached and was not a factor in the outcome.

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