From our friends at Professional Boatbuilder…
In the summer of 1983, in the months leading up to the 25th America’s Cup competition in Newport, Rhode Island, a storm of controversy gathered over the challenging Australian and defending New York Yacht Club syndicates.
At that time, the rules governing the Cup required that each yacht be designed by citizens of the country it represented. The principal designer of Australia II, the eventual winner, was indeed a “national”—Ben Lexcen. Much of the development work on that boat, however, was performed at the Netherlands Ship Model Basin (now known by the acronym MARIN), in Wageningen, by Peter van Oossanen. On seeing Australia II perform in the challenge trials in Rhode Island Sound, the New York Yacht Club sought to disqualify her on the basis of the rule cited above.
But to do so, the NYYC had to establish that Van Oossanen, not Lexcen, had designed the boat, or had made a significant contribution. Though he didn’t know how to run a computer, Lexcen maintained an office at MARIN; all insisted he was the team leader. In the end, the issue was dropped. Australia II competed, and won in a stirring seventh and final race. Read on.