History in a Junk Yard

It is 1983 and the world shook as the unheard of happened, the USA lost the America’s Cup. Dennis Connors was defeated by a newly designed 12 meter with a winged keel. Australia II took the cup across the world to the remote city of Perth and America rallied to get it back.

At the helm of the Aussie effort was an English immigrant sign painter turned zillionaire named Allen Bond. Having seen Aussies celebrate and especially sporting events I can only imagine the revelry that swept the land. Allan Bond was named “Australian of the Year” and made a national hero, ahh but the hero takes a fall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bond_%28businessman%29 The defense of the Cup brought out a plethora of boats competing for the right to defend the Aussie held cup. Bond built two more winged keel boats, the Australia III and IV. After a round robbin series of races he lost the bid to defend the cup to another Australian boat, Kookara II.

In years to follow Bond would go from national hero to convicted felon and in prison. After milking many people for millions of dollars and convicted of several accounts real bad things, he found himself, get this, teaching business management to prison inmates. Upon his release his alleged poverty disappeared and he is again a multi millionaire.

Back to the boats, the two Bond boats then went to Japan and sat for years, then Singapore and now they rest in the back yard of Miri Marina where they have sat for at least three years. The sails were left outside in the tropical sun and rain for two years then moved somewhere, the spars lay covered in grass next to the boats. There is a spare winged keel alongside too. They are owned by a chap named Troy who dreamed of future regattas in Malaysia.

This is the site I saw as I crossed the bar entering Miri Marina, I pointed the boats out and excitedly said, “Those are 12 meters!”. I got the usual puzzled look from my young crew. When I investigated more I saw the winged keels and knew I had stumbled on to history. A combination of Googling, Wikipedia and a long chat with two locals provided the above information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1987_America%27s_Cup

So here in the wilds of Borneo sit some of the boats that we all huddled around the TV to watch, the boats that gave national pride to Australia and united America. Tis a sad fate for such noble vessels. The sadder story is that of the America’s Cup itself. After this historic set of races the Cup fell victim to greed, ego and lawyers. It will never again be the premier yacht race of the world, a great loss for the us all.