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22 February 2006, 12:13 pm
Aussie America's Cup Victory Tops Best Sporting Moment Poll
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Yachting Australia News

It ended a 132-year winning streak, prompted a prime minister to give the nation an official sickie and was the clear cut number one Australia sporting event for readers of leading Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia II's thrilling victory in the 1983 America's Cup received top billing in a Herald online survey, conducted to mark the paper's 175th birthday in April.
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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.

Celebrations

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'.

Alastair SNELL (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Australia II defeats Liberty to win the America's Cup 23 years ago:© Daniel FORSTER
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