Will the world's best known - and possibly most admired -12 Metre Class yacht, Australia II, make it to Cowes to compete in the America's Cup Jubilee Regatta?
The Jubilee Regatta, to be conducted by England's Royal Yacht Squadron in co-operation with the New York Yacht Club in August promises to be the most spectacular yachting regatta ever held. Australia 11's Syndicate head, Warren Jones, is keeping his hopes high that the yacht that transfixed a nation and stunned the world of yachting in 1983 will once again race for her country. With a very tight deadline to raise $AUD750, 000 by mid-April, her original (1983) crew and support team are working flat-out to try to turn the dream into reality.
An Australian icon that has spent the past 12 years on display in Sydney's National Maritime Museum, Australia 11 needs a mast, new sails and new rigging to ensure she can sail competitively. According to Warren Jones, Chairman of Australia 11 Jubilee Challenge 2001 Inc., what is really needed is a major sponsor or benefactor who realises that it would be an international sporting tragedy to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the America's Cup without the first yacht to break the USA's 132 year hold on the Cup. "It's widely understood that the two key participants for this important anniversary Regatta are America (the first winner of the America's Cup in 1851, of which a replica is entered) and the original Australia 11," Warren Jones said. "The victory of the Ben Lexcen-designed winged-keel Australian yacht over Dennis Conner's Liberty in 1983 had an enormous impact on the sport of yachting," said Jones.
The most important event at Cowes will be the re-enactment of the 1851 race for the trophy which became world famous as the America's Cup. It will be sailed over the original course around the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, 21 August 2001. It's anticipated that up to 200 large yachts will participate in the Regatta and in the re-enactment race, which will attract media attention world-wide.
Jones' team has already overcome the initial hurdles in getting the white yacht with the boxing kangaroo emblem closer to the water. Last year, the Australian Federal Government agreed to return her to the people of Western Australia, where she will go on display in the new, multi-million dollar Western Australian Maritime Museum (WAMM), due for completion in 2002.