Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Bond, beer* and batter

It is exactly 25 years since Alan Bond's inspired bid to win the America's Cup at Newport Rhode Island in 1983, with John Bertram and the team, and The Keel of course. I remember watching the last race all unfold - as Dennis Conner's boat missed the chance to cover downwind and Australia II slipped in to cross them by inches and take the series from the USA for the first time.

I recall EVERY detail of the moment as though it was just yesterday. Bond had had a few business issues (ahem) since of course, but remains for me an absolute hero. So it was a joy at the (very good) Australian Secondary Principals' Conference to be whisked over to Freemantle - which had become for a while the home of the cup - for an evening out. The AC boats are gone but the boatsheds remain and so after a whopping portion of fish n chips I found myself here in one of the boatsheds (heaven) which is now a brewery (uh oh). Great conference, great company, great boatshed, great beer. Perfick.

* Little Creatures Pale Ale - it's proper yummy!


Anonymous said...

Stephen, being an Aussie who also breathes the briny, for me the real hero behind the victory was Ben Lexon. An absolute genius, underrated and sadly missed.

Bond, he was just the Falstaffian apendage with a bankroll who needed a billboard for his then beer.

"death of education, dawn of learning", love it.

Prof Stephen Heppell said...

Tony - i agree - although i own and regularly re-read John Bertram's Born to Win book and all they guys did an amazing job - sailing is such a psychological game at the top, they showed such spirit not to be completely psyched by history.

But Bennie's amazing design - the winged keel was but one bit - did the job of levelling the psychological playing field and the rest is history.

I can't remember where i was when Kennedy, Lennon etc got shot but I know exactly where I was when AUStralia 2 crossed the line in that last astonishing race! And Alan Bond, for all his bits of imperfection, made that all happen. Noone can take that away from the bloke.