America's Cup winner Conner (The Art of Winning, 1988) and sailing writer Levitt's history of the most visible race in...


THE AMERICA'S CUP: The History of Sailing's Greatest Competition in the Twentieth Century

America's Cup winner Conner (The Art of Winning, 1988) and sailing writer Levitt's history of the most visible race in sailing blends politics, rarified technology, personalities, and a healthy dose of the sport's runic patois in thorough, if prolix, fashion. Even though the competition remains ""as fitting a measure of a nation's place in the world as any sport is,"" as Conner would have it--the book is written in his voice--the nature of the America's Cup has changed drastically over the last 150 years. Once a clubby venue for the rich, it now allows ordinary Joes and Janes to get a shot (Connor makes much of his middle-class status) if they can wheedle the corporate bucks; whereas before, courage, execution, and nautical savvy made up the winning formula, today must be added scientists, technicians, meteorologists, organizers, and lawyers. But one element has remained steady as the western wind: controversy. With such personalities involved as the dastardly Lord Dunraven, brash Ted Turner, and the backdoor-maneuvering Sir Michael Fay; with the baroque rules of the governing Deed of Girl, and the skulduggery involved in sail-making and keel design; and considering the willingness of the contestants to hurl numerous protests at one another, how could it have been otherwise? Conner does a good job explaining the above, as well as the complexity of the event, from the radical boat designs to behind-the-scene dealings to tactical decisions made when under sail. But best of all is the simple fact that Conner is an insider unafraid to criticize or compliment both his rivals and himself (such as his less-than-savory use of a loophole in the Deed to sail a catamaran in the 1988 defense) and to back up his remarks with intelligent opinions. While the amount of detailing makes the book a sailor's dream and a lubber's chore, anyone even remotely interested in the America's Cup will find plenty of nuggets here to keep their curiosity perking.

Pub Date: July 1, 1998


Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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