Alan Bond, who bankrolled the historic 1983 America’s Cup win, has marked the 30th anniversary of that victory by highlighting Australia’s role in the latest event.
Syndicate owner Bond, skipper John Bertrand, most of his crew and and the prime minister at the time, Bob Hawke, were among the luminaries at a lunch in Sydney on Thursday to mark the anniversary.
Just a few hours earlier in San Francisco, Oracle Team USA completed a successful defence and extraordinary comeback by beating Emirates New Zealand in the final race.
Oracle came back from a seemingly irretrievable 8-1 deficit.
The American boat was skippered by Australian James Spithill, and he had at least another half dozen Australian compatriots in his crew, including 2012 Olympic Laser gold medallist Tom Slingsby.
The Australian contingent also included coach Darren Bundock and general manger Grant Simmer, who was a crew member aboard Australia II in 1983 and has now been a part of four America’s Cup wins.
“Its no wonder they needed the expertise of Australia to retain that cup,” Bond said.
“They got faster with the modifications they were making for the last race, it was a fantastic race for them.
“But a lot of the credit should go to the Australians that sailed on that yacht this morning.”
The fightback was reminiscent of the Australia II effort in which they came from 3-1 down to win 4-3.
“When our backs are to the wall, and how we fight against seemingly impossible odds, its part of the DNA of this country,” Bertrand said.
Hawke said he felt pride that “little Australia’ with a small technological base at the time had “out-techoed the bastards.”
“I don’t think any prime minister before or since has even been more proud of leading this nation than on that moment,” Mr Hawke said.
Bertrand said history might have provided a different ending, as a day after the final race, the bolt holding up the mainsail on Australia II exploded and the sail fell down.
Crew member Rob Brown said the sailors aboard Australia II were motivated and highly confident, even before being addressed by master motivator and AFL legend Ron Barassi at a team dinner.
“He turned and looked at all of us and just said ‘you’re ready’ and sat down,” Brown recalled.
“That was his shortest speech ever.”
Hawke was constantly reminded on Thursday of his famous comment after the final race that “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”
“I’m very proud of it in one way, but very disappointed that all the other many brilliant things I’ve said are never mentioned,” he joked.
Bond said Men at Work’s iconic Australian song Down Under, which the syndicate appropriated as their theme, had a dual effect.
“That music played a very good psychological affect of not only bonding our crew together, but actually frightening the opposition,” Bond said.