Wind blows away the miracle show

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 April, 1995, 12:00am

EASTER Sunday at the America's Cup was a huge let-down with both races in the Defender and Challenger series being abandoned because of bad weather. It was an anti-climax, especially coming just the day after the series had seen one of the most exciting races in the America's Cup - Stars & Stripes pipping Young America by the narrowest of margins, one second, and oneAustralia overcoming the odds to inflict Team New Zealand's first defeat on the water by 15 seconds.

Universally, the opinion was that the racing was 'one of the greatest days of sailing'. Expecting more close finishes like that which Stars & Stripes and Young America produced would have been a miracle of biblical proportions, considering the statistics. In the first 141 years of the America's Cup, only one race was decided by the time span of a heartbeat. Then in 1992, Il Moro defeated New Zealand in the challenger finals by one second. And then there was the latest epic. So in the last three years, there have been two finishes of the closest kind.

Organisers, were not willing to take the risk of sailing in conditions similar to 'Black Sunday', March 5, when oneAustralia's main boat Aus35 was sunk off Point Loma. Choppy seas with winds of high velocity prevented Stars & Stripes taking on the (mostly) women's team of Mighty Mary in the round-robin Defender series, while oneAustralia and Team New Zealand also called it a day in the best-of-nine Challenger Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup. Both races will be run on Monday (Tuesday Hong Kong time), weather permitting.

It is funny that a sport which depends so much on the wind (a couple of days ago, the racing was abandoned after the winds died down and the boats could not finish in the allotted time), also prays that there isn't too much of it. Yes, sailing is totally dependent on the vagaries of nature. The halfway mark of both series is just around the corner. The Kiwis and the boat they call Black Magic lead oneAustralia 3-1.

At one stage, the Kiwis were expected to sweep to a 5-0 victory. But things are looking up for oneAustralia although they will have to hope that their share of the Easter Sunday miracle has not been used up. On the last occasion in the America's Cup, in 1992, New Zealand led Il Moro 4-1 in the best-of-nine challenger series.

They then lost four straight to be eliminated. In 1987, after having a 39-1 record going into the finals, the Kiwis were eliminated in five races by Stars & Stripes in the challenger finals. Will the wind be taken out of their sails yet again?