Inside Story of Winning Sailing's Holy Grail; How America's Cup History Was Made

Article excerpt

Byline: LES WILSON

Once upon a time I went to America to write a book about us winning the America's Cup.

For years I'd been reporting about yachting's Holy Grail - (some would say wail) from the moment Sir Frank Packer decided to have a go with Gretel 'til Alan Bond took up the fight.

I'd been there at the start with the building of Gretel and then cheeky Cleo Magazine sent a photographer and me to Perth to secretly snap Alan Bond's new challenger.

Bondy wasn't pleased but his mum took me swimming with the family and disclosed some secrets.

With Bond's first Australian challenger well off the mark at Rhode Island I joined an American magazine and along came John Bertrand whose book tells what I'd hoped to - the inside story of winning the sailing race that started with Lipton and the United States schooner, America, in 1851 and is still being fought on coasts and courts.

The unending slog to win an America's Cup has cost billions of dollars and doesn't look like slackening as a new one is about to blossom on February 8 in Valencia.

Getting the Cup challenge in your city means a lot of bucks, euros, pesos or pounds with television a multi-million-dollar bonus.

Suggestions that a challenger series could be held off the Hervey Bay coast had some punters rubbing their hands.

The only problem about staging anything like this is the infrastructure in spots I attended, like San Diego and Auckland, are so huge they would swallow the Whale City.

Australia and New Zealand have been at the forefront, wresting the cup from America and all others and still no one is giving an inch.

Describing what it's like to triumph through the eyes of the skipper is very special.

In his foreword to Bertrand's book Born to Win, Richard Bach (author, also, of Jonathan Livingston Seagull) says Bertrand: "Was born to win the America's Cup as any hero is born to destiny?

"He found what he wanted to do and he did it. Spark together love and pure determination and you've got a laser torch guaranteed to level whatever stands in your way. …