Sailing: Incoming!

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, October 1994

Sailing: Incoming!
By Todd Balf (with Greg Child and Dan Dickison)

Last July, 24 hours after a surprise opening-day drubbing by millionaire skipper and fellow trash-talker Bill Koch, Dennis Conner did what he does best: He got even. When officials at the New York Yacht Club's 150th anniversary regatta postponed round two because of fog, Conner sailed Stars & Stripes through a crowded Newport, Rhode Island, harbor on a hard spinnaker run and then pointed toward the dock. With nearby boat owners peering through the pea soup in horror, Conner wheeled the 33.5-ton, 12-meter giant toward his slip, and the crew dowsed the spinnaker, dropped the mainsail, and skidded to a perfect landing. "You think Bill Koch could do that?" Conner asked a reporter moments later. It was indeed like the petty times of old, with Conner and Koch dramatically replaying their 1987 America's Cup duel in Australia. Conner tied the match fairly and squarely with a victory the following day--not long before his vessel's 80-foot mast snapped in two during a sponsor's cruise. After an all-night repair session, he reached the starting line in time to beat Koch in the decisive third race. Elsewhere, France's Yves Parlier had people talking, too. Sailing the 60-foot Cacolac D'Aquitaine, the 33-year-old overtook England's Mark Gatehouse in a final sprint to Charleston, South Carolina, winning the $25,000 BOC Transatlantic Challenge solo yacht race by a mere three hours. His time for the crossing--a warm-up for the around-the-world BOC Challenge--was 22 days, 22 minutes, and 29 seconds.

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