A bit of calm weather saves the day for some

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 1995, 12:00am

IT was a day made for couch potatoes. Better to have sat in front of the box and answered trivia questions than gone out on the Louis Vuitton media boat to watch the 1995 America's Cup Defender and Challenger finals off Point Loma.

Anyone who had taken the latter course of action yesterday would have returned frustrated at nature's fickle ways which saw both races cancelled just towards the end because the winds died down.

Better to have stayed in the hotel and learned that the national debt of the United States now stands at US$4.8 trillion, which adds up to US$18,852 per person, or that the state of California has the highest teenage pregnancy rate - a staggering 154 preganancies per 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19.

Yes, general knowledge was the winner. But at one stage it seemed as though Team Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes and Team New Zealand would also sweep to emphatic wins in the Defender and Challenger series respectively.

Stars & Stripes, with Dennis Conner at the helm, were comfortably leading the almost all-women America3's Mighty Mary by a huge margin of 13 minutes, 26 seconds when nature intervened with just one lap to go - much to chagrin of Conner for if he had won, he would have been on equal terms with the other two boats (all on two points).

In the Challenger series for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the seemingly unstoppable entry from New Zealand, NZL 32, was two minutes, nine seconds in front of oneAustralia when the winds died down - probably much to the delight of Aussie skipper John Bertrand and his crew.

With the Kiwis already having bagged one point from winning the first race in the best-of-nine race series, another loss on would have piled further pressure on Bertrand. The cancellations - this was only the fifth time that the Did Not Finish sign was hauled up since the 1995 America's Cup campaign began back in January - now gives Bertrand more time to fine-tune his boat which has undergone massive modifications to increase its upwind performance.

The 18.5 nautical mile, three lap course is split into three legs to windward (direction from which wind is blowing) and three legs to leeward.

Bertrand, whose main boat sunk in the semi-finals, had been tinkering with his remaining boat for six days before the finals began, in the hope of getting every ounce of speed upwind.

He tested those changes - made mainly to the keel and bow - for the first time on Wednesday and came out badly, being beaten by nearly five minutes by Team New Zealand. Yesterday's run was also going badly for the Australians when nature called a halt.

Trailing all the way, after getting off to a good start, the Aussies will be thankful for the 'test run'. They can get back today, hopefully having sorted out all their problems.

But the all-black Team New Zealand are a magical force.

The Kiwis have so far won all 33 races on water to this stage - and they seemed to be toying with their opponents yesterday and seemed right on course towards victory to notch up win number two in the Challenger finals.

The winds died down and oneAustralia got a reprieve. As did Mighty Mary. One could see the relief in the faces of the women as their hair stopped blowing - with Stars & Stripes a speck in the distance.

Meanwhile, for trivia buffs, the Californian State Government has made April a Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Awareness Month.