Winning the world's most coveted sailing trophy -- the America's Cup -- means more to Australia than a transfer of the silver from the New York Yacht Club to Australia.
It also means potential business opportunities.
Australian businessmen are aware that prior to Alan Bond's first challenge for the cup in 1970, the Perth businessman was relatively unknown outside of Western Australia. However, after trying for the prize that has been in American hands for well over a century, he was able to sell a land development and tour business to the Japanese.
"I'm sure a prime reason he made this deal," says Peter Campbell, a noted racing expert in Sydney, "is because of his 12-meter exposure."
Peter Shipway, a crew member on the last challenge in the 12-meter yachts, agrees: "I'm sure the racing helped 'bondy,' and it would have helped him even more if he won."
Even though the spunky millionaire has lost all four of his challenges (as has everyone else), Mr. Campbell observes, "The challenges created a lot of US interest in Australia and resulted in a lot of business and goodwill." And Australian sailboat manufacturers, sailmakers, and marinas were able to cash in on a renewed interest in sailing, Mr. Shipway says. Partly out of a desire to further profit from this business interest, as well as a long-held hope to bring the cup to Australia, Australian yachtsmen are gearing up to mount a major challenge for the next cup series in 1983.
Already four syndicates have announced their intention to build a total of seven new 12-meter yachts. Each syndicate is estimating a minimum cost of $1 million per ship for the campaign. Among the syndicates are:
* The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. Based in Melbourne, the RYCV's syndicate is headed by Sir Peter Derham, whose company has sponsored a C-Class catamaran, Miss Nylex, named after his company, which manufactures toothbrushes. The syndicate has retained Alan Payne to design two yachts and has budgeted $2 million for the campaign.
* The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. Based in Brisbane, the Queenslanders have a syndicate headed up by Keith Williams, a local businessman who runs an entertainment complex called Sea World; Keith Lloyd, a hotel and boat yard owner; and Alan Greenway, the former managing director of TraveLodge Australia. They have hired Bob Holmes, five times world champion of the fast 18-footers, as their technical adviser. Their "Spirit of Queensland" boat is budgeted at $5 million.
* The Royal Perth Yacht Club. Alan Bond will once more challenge for the cup , and has hired Ben Lexan to design two yachts for him. John Bertrand, who has campaigned before on 12 meters will be skipper. Mr. Bond has budgeted $4 million for the challenge.
* The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. The RSYS is headed up by three Sydney businessmen: Bill Fisque, who sailed on Gretel II; Sir William Pettingell, a local businessman; and Syd Fischer, another local businessman. Reportedly they have asked Alan Payne to design two 12-meter yachts and have yet to set a budget for the venture. Each of the four yacht clubs have filed a challenge application with a check for $10,000 to cover some of the expense of organizing the challenges.