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7 February 2006, 09:23 am
Legendary Rivals To Face Off Again
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Melbourne, Australia

One of sailing's most celebrated rivalries will be reignited in Melbourne, Australia this weekend when John BERTRAND (AUS) goes head to head against America's Cup arch-rival Dennis CONNER (USA) for the first time since 1983.
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BERTRAND and the vanquished CONNER have competed in events involving other contestants since their epic encounter 23 years ago, but never in a match race simulating the America's Cup.

CONNER will arrive in Melbourne on Friday before sailing off against BERTRAND in a three match series hosted by the Sandringham Yacht Club, all part of a southern sojourn for a fleet of yachts circumnavigating the globe in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Like veterans of an unspoken war, BERTRAND said yesterday that he and CONNER do not discuss the events of 1983. 'We get on just fine; we have a huge number of interests in common, like technology and sailing,' he said.

'But we do not talk about 1983. Rivers run deep, and I understand that. It's all about today and tomorrow.'

A National Hero

BERTRAND was feted as a national hero when the Australia II syndicate, backed by the subsequently disgraced businessman Alan BOND, overcame a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 and wrest control of the cup after 132 years of American dominance.

An exultant Bob HAWKE, Prime Minister at the time, memorably pronounced, 'I tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.'

BERTRAND won enduring fame and BOND was rushed by the world's banks as he built a global business empire. But CONNER was left to face his personal demons, forever known not as the skipper who won the Cup in 1974 and 1980, and regained it in 1987, but as the one who lost it.

The two men will face off in Volvo 60 yachts, the ones that were used in the round the world race four years ago.

Each boat will have a crew of eight, and the matching of yacht and skipper will be determined by the toss of a coin. The course will be much shorter than at the America's Cup encounters, with each race expected to take about 20 minutes.

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg 3 In Port race)

Pos Team Nation Skippers Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 32.5
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 25
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 18
4 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 16.5
5 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 16
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 14.5
7 Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Richard GLUYAS/The Australian (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Australia II defeats Liberty to win the America's Cup 23 years ago:© Daniel FORSTER
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