1969: The Yanks by a slim margin
Excerpt from "The Admiral's Cup" by Bob Fisher
Clarke's Quiver V. It was to be the last Cup series run under the RORC Rule and Arthur Slater took advantage of the benefit of the scantling allowance to build his Sparkman & Stephens-designed Prospect of Whitby in steel in Holland. The boat was fast and rated well. So, too, was Dave Johnson's and Mike Hurrell's Casse Tete III, a production glassfibre Swan 43, making the point that a well-sailed standard boat could be good enough for inclusion in the team over more expensive one-off boats.
There were other changes in thinking that year. The RORC found a sponsor to help maintain the standard and bear some of the costs. Dunnhill, who had been involved in Olympic sailing for some years, blended happily into the scene. Team managers began to appear. The Aussies had always had one - Gordon Reynolds took the role this time - and now it was deemed necessary even for the British.
When racing began in 1969, with a Channel Race that served up very changeable weather, the Australians made their point. They were in Britain to defend the Cup and wanted to take it back to Sydney. Ragamuffin lived up to her reputation to win by a minute from Red Rooster, while Mercedes III and Koomooloo were fourth and seventh to give Australia a 38 point lead after just one race. Prospect and Phantom were third and fifth but Casse Tete III was disappointingly twenty-eighth. Italy were ten points ahead of both Britain and the USA.
The Britannia Cup was Britain's race. Prospect, by taking the mainland shore on the beat westwards against the tide, won the Cup and, with Casse Tete and Phantom eighth and tenth, took top team points. Nevertheless, the Aussies with sixth, seventh and thirteenth for Koomooloo, Ragamuffin and Mercedes, stretched their lead to 41 points. And it grew two days later when Red Rooster won the New York Yacht Club Cup for America and the Australian trio scored third, fourth and ninth and went up 44 points.
The individual battle was definitely between Ragamuffin and Red Rooster with Prospect in with a chance.
The Fastnet was a gloomy affair. After a bright start under shy spinnakers in a briskish south-easterly, the wind tailed off and made it a slow race. The Americans found it much to their liking and hammered home their superiority. Red Rooster won the Fastnet Cup by 68 seconds from Sir Max Aitken's Crusade and the argument still bubbles about the timing discrepancy which may have robber Sir Max of victory. But Carter's win with Dick Nye's Carina third and Palawan eighth gave the Americans 252 points, taking them from fourth to win the Admiral's Cup.
Australia's hopes evaporated with the wind and, while Ragamuffin was second, the calms ensured the other two staying out longer and they finished nineteenth and twentieth. With Phantom fourth, Prospect eleventh and Casse Tete fifteenth, Britain closed the gap but had to be content with third place. How galling it must have been for the Australians who had done so well in the first three races and were still leading in the Cup as they rounded the Bishop Rock on the way back from the Fastnet, to see it all disappear so close to the finish. But that, as anyone will tell you, is ocean racing.
|CHANNEL RACE||FIRST INSHORE RACE||SECOND INSHORE RACE||FASTNET RACE|
|PROSPECT OF WHITBY||58||31||27||63||179|
|CASSE TETE III||8||24||23||51||106|
|TONNERRE DE BRESKENS||18||13||7||21||59|
|BERMUDA||QUEST OF PAGET||4||-||-||27||31|
|WIZARD OF PAGET||10||20||18||45||39|