For fans more used to scintillating sixes, length-of-the-field tries or fluky field goals, watching two boats tack and gybe their way towards an invisible finishing line seemed unlikely to disturb the ratings; but in fact the battle for the cup had all the tension of any close sporting event.
Dennis CONNER's (USA) Liberty won the first two of the seven-match series; Australia II stunned with a big win in the third race but then faced a 3-1 deficit after another USA victory in race four. Three to go and odds against them, but John BERTRAND's (AUS) crew took races five and six. So it was 3-3 with one to come. Who would have thought that millions would sit up all night, tuned in to Newport, Rhode Island? But Australians did and collectively cheered when a puff of smoke signified the controversial winged keel had held off the Americans.
A spinnaker was erected on Sydney Town Hall; drinkers at the Hilton Hotel rushed to grab souvenirs as the America's Cup Bar was renamed Australia's Cup Bar mid-afternoon; The New York Times, Washington Post, Le Matin in France, and London's Daily Mail and The Financial Times splashed the win on their front pages; and Prime Minister Bob HAWKE uttered his immortal line that any boss who sacked a worker taking a sickie was 'a bum'.