1983: Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup
The first thing that was different about the 1983 Admiral's Cup was the name. A new contract with the sponsors, C.H.Mumm & Cie of Rheims, resulted in a concession granted by the Royal Ocean Racing Club for the sponsor's name to be included in the title of the series. The Admiral's Cup was dead; it became the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup.
One major change which would affect most countries was that the RORC and felt that the number of "hired assassins" racing should be curbed. It was, therefore, a rule that at least half the crew members of a competing yacht (rounded down) should have to be a resident or national of that yacht's competing country. In addition, the helmsman should be one of them for the inshore races. This brought the Admiral's Cup in line with RORC policy in the level-rating championships and was all the more applicable here where the teams have a nationality basis. On the other hand it did penalise at least one nation which found itself unable to provide sufficient good sailors to satisfy the RORC limitation. Bermuda, which had returned to Cup racing in 1981 after two non-appearances, just could not get enough of its relatively small yachting population to commit themselves to a month away at the Admiral's Cup. There were those who were prepared to ship or charter yachts but there was to be no special dispensation for the tiny island with the huge yachting tradition. When one compares its yachting population with that of its nearest neighbour, the USA, this rule does touch on the unfair.
Down-under is where the action normally begins and once more the Australian trials had their fair share of contentious happenings. This time they surrounded the undoubted star of the appropriately-named boat as things were to turn out. She was built to compete for New Zealand, Crichton being a native of the land of the long white cloud, but the New Zealand Yachting Federation had decided against sending a team which would be composed of Shockwave and two chartered boats. The economic recession was beginning to make its presence felt even among the yachting population of New Zealand and there were no good new boats or the cash to ship them to Britain from the remotest of the challengers.
Crichton, who is a full-on competitor at everything he tackles, decided therefore to take the boat across the Tasman and aim for a place in the Australian team with his boat. He had previously considered going to the SORC and trying for a place in the American team for which he has the residential qualifications. To fully qualify the yacht for Australia, Crichton chartered her to Mike "Zapper" Bell, maker of some of the world's top ocean racing spars, including those of Shockwave, and Graeme Jones. In addition, four Australian crew members were invited so that Shockwave would conform to the regulations that would apply at Cowes. All seemed set fair.
Then came the races and Shockwave won five of the first nine of them and was generally considered as having booked her passage to Britain. But there was an undercurrent of antipathy among the Australian selectors and they took their chance of ignoring Shockwave when she suffered some slight damage, indicating that she would prefer not to sail the last race, a 300 miler, in order to properly effect repairs before the damage increased.
At the time, she was sufficiently far ahead on the points table for even a DNS on her card of the final race to fail to keep her out of the top three boats.
The selectors had other ideas however and totally eliminated Shockwave from their discussions. Strangely, there was a total volte-face when the selection trials for the Southern Cross Cup team came round. Under charter to Jones again, Shockwave won the trials and was selected to race for Australia. Strangely, too, this came after she had been eliminated from the New Zealand team in their trials. Life was never simple for Chrichton and this boat. After the Melbourne trials, however, he went back to Auckland to re-open negotiations with fellow offshore sailors and the NZYF. It resulted in the maybe-on-maybe-off situation being resolved by a decision to send a team to Cowes led by Shockwave. In addition to the 34.5 foot rater, which was seen as one of the world's best all-rounders, there were to be two chartered boats. Ian Gibbs chartered Wee Willie Winkie from her Irish owner, Seamus Gallagher. The boat, which had been in the previous Kiwi team, was similiar to Swuzzlebubble which Gibbs had sailed in 1981, and he re-named her Swuzzlebubble IV for the series. The third boat was to be a production version of a Shockwave derivative, the Beneteau 456 Lady Be. Eric Duchemin had just missed selection for the French team with this boat and Peter Blake, who was to skipper her, felt that there was a lot of unrealised potential, potential that his Kiwi crew, with Duchemin's help, might convert into a winner. Certainly there can be no denying that Blake was right.
With Shockwave eliminated from their deliberations the Australians chose relatively small boats. Hitchhiker, with much of her old crew on board, was an immediate choice. This time she would not have the chance to use the talents of Harold Cudmore. Having severed his interest with the de Savary 12-Metre, Cudmore had decided to race aboard an Irish boat for the Admiral's Cup. Another slightly smaller Frers design, the 41 foot Bondi Tram of Dennis O'Neil, was to race with Hugh Trehearn who was given special leave from Australia II to do at least the inshore races with her. Peter Kurts' minimum rating Dubois design, Once More Dear Friends, a smiliar fractional-rigger to Dragon, completed the team.
|FIRST INSHORE RACE||SECOND INSHORE RACE||CHANNEL RACE||THIRD INSHORE RACE||FASTNET RACE|
|NEW ZEALAND||SWUZZLEBUBBLE IV||16||17||72||18||111||234|
|GREAT BRITAIN||BLACK TOPIC||15||7||74||15||108||219|
|NEW GUINEA||DI HARD||39||0||56||20||99||214|
11th: Ireland (Justine IV, Moonduster, Storm Bird); total points: 485.
12th: France (Diva, Ossian, Passion); total points: 473.
13th: Belgium (Black Lion, Mariner, Incisif III); total points: 319.
14th: Sweden (Carat, Bla Carat, Paper Tiger); total points: 266.
15th: Japan (Togo VII, Formidable, Flirt of Paget); total points: 253.