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Australia skipper says this regatta best since ’83

September 25, 2013

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia II skipper John Bertrand says the America’s Cup that will be decided on Wednesday in San Francisco is the best since his boat’s upset win at Newport, Rhode Island 30 years ago.

Defending champions Oracle Team USA, skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, has recovered from a seemingly impossible 8-1 deficit to even the series at 8-8 and force a winner-take-all decider against Emirates New Zealand.

In 1983, Australia II came back from 3-1 down to win three straight races and take the Cup, the first time a team from outside the United States won sport’s oldest trophy.

“It is, it has to be no question,” Bertrand said when asked if it was the best regatta since 1983. “It’s a big deal for the world of America’s Cup.”

Australia hasn’t had an America’s Cup contestant since 2000, when Spithill was helmsman aboard Young Australia.

“We actually have more Australians in these foreign teams than any other nation in the world,” Bertrand said. “So there’s not a problem about the numbers of people involved, or the technology, it’s really the cash.

“They are $100 million dollar programs, that’s too expensive, they need to get that back.”

Bertrand said Spithill was a highly gifted sailor.

“He’s a free thinker, he’s very much a team orientated team builder, which is one of his strengths,” said Bertrand, who recently became president of Swimming Australia.

Australia II tactician Hugh Treharne on Wednesday said comparing the 12-meter yachts of 1983 to the high-speed catamarans racing this year was like “watching hockey compared with watching chess.”

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