Q: Your grandfather was the greatest yacht designer in his time. Your father was a yacht designer. You're a yacht designer. You're also a good old-fashioned New Englander.
Q: There are a lot of people who think that this sport has turned into lunancy -- a good place to throw millions of dollars away without contributing to the welfare of people in general. How would you would argue against that from the standpoint of a New Englander whose views might be more difficult to change than others?
A: That's an interesting debate. We get so close to it here that we take for granted this magnificent competition and what it represents. Why do we do it? I think it's a prime example of excellence. Maybe that's justification enough in itself. It's admirable for human beings to pursue goals. Where real excellence -- maybe the best in the world -- is involved, it's worthwhile. I think that's true whether it's a space shot to the moon or whether it's advance in medical research or whether it's excellence in sports. In the America's Cup we have the absolute top of the world in sailing. I think that it's worthwhile for this excellence to be pursued. For the public to appreciate the excellence. There's an awful lot of intangible benefit that has nothing to do with dollars.
Q: One of the reasons America has never been beaten in the 132 years of the Cup, is that we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovative changes. How did these guys from a little country down there in the middle of nowhere beat us to the punch on this one (with their winged keel)?
A: Because they went to Holland and had the Dutch scientists design the new elements of the boat.
Q: Well now, of course -- .
A: And that is not legal. Under the stipulations of the America's Cup, not only the skipper but the designer and even consultants involved in the design of the boat must come from the country that is challenging.
Q: Now, of course, the Australians would contest that. They would say that they drew the pictures and then had the fine tuning done through tank testing in Holland. Ben Lexcen contends that he designed the keel in a straightforward fashion. Is he being deceitful?
A: Well, he has contended that but the information that I've received about it convinces me that such is not the case. That in actual fact both the idea and the principal execution of it was done by the Dutch. I think this will come out in the end. It won't maybe come out immediately. But you know, somehow in all these things the truth has a way of finally emerging and it will here.
Q: Why do you think the Australians shouldn't be permitted to race in the boat?
A: The America's Cup -- which is a 132- year tradition -- is a combination of competition involving design, the construction of the sailboats, the quality of the sails and the crew work and the tactics. All those things are factors and therefore it is correct to say that the development of design is important to it. But never in all the history has there been an intrusion into the design competition of something that is so totally off the wall and different as this winged keel. We've had development and refinement and innovation, but not something that is so totally foreign to what it normally means. It just goes against the rules.
Q: You said in the midst of this great fight which died out evidently for lack of a sense that the fight could be won, that if Australia were permitted to race as she is she would likely win the Cup. Do you stand by that?
A: What I really said was that she had a good chance to win the Cup. And I'd say that's true. She does have a good chance to win the Cup. But in spite of her tricky advantage -- which we have to acknowledge is going to be a help to her -- we have a lot of other things going for us. We have quite good sails. We have a good boat ourselves. We have a most excellent crew. We have a very smart and aggressive skipper. It's my hope that all these things will pull us through in the face of this very difficult threat. There have been two or three times in history when the United States has not had the fastest boat. Notably 1934, Rainbow was not as fast as the English boat. In 1962, Weatherly was not as fast as the Australian boat. Possibly in 1970 the mucked-up Intrepid was not as fast as the Challenger. We've won those times. We may have to pull it off this year even though we don't have quite as good equipment. Always before I've had a great feeling of confidence. This time I have a great feeling of doubt.
Q: Do you not like it?
A: I like it if we end up winning.
Q: In order to beat the Australians, the Americans have to do some extraordinary sailing. How can we beat them?
A: Actually, we need to learn more about that. We'll have our people out with video tape cameras observing what's going on. We've studied the Australia II. We know she turns quickly. We know the greatest threat seems to be in the light airs. We know that she may be vulnerable to rough seas. But you don't really know how she compares with our own boat until you race with her. While we're gonna be going full out to beat her, we're also gonna be learning at the beginning of this series what the differences are between their boat and ours. Obviously, our tactics against her are gonna be very different than our tactics against our American counterparts who are identical to our boat. We're gonna refine that right away. We're gonna learn a lot in the first 10 minutes. We're really fast learners. We're gonna find out right away what we can do with her. We've got to be fast learners here.
Q: Why always the Aussies? Why does it always end up to be Australia versus the United States?
A: This year, I think we perceive an over- aggressive -- . I think we perceive a going- too-far.
Q: A win-at-all-costs mentality?
A: A win-at-all costs mentality. I don't say that we don't have a mentality of doing everything we can to win. But I think that the line should be drawn when there's a circumventing of the rules. I admire the Australians in many ways. I think that their approach to the Cup in many ways is more like ours than anybody else's. They're innovative, open, energetic, aggressive and ready to do anything that will work. That's why they are here most of the time and they can beat the others that would like to be the challengers.
Q: There are those who say that one of the best things that could happen to the America's Cup is to have it be lost. For someone else to win, to throw new vigor into the competition. Suddenly the Australians would be making the rules and sailing in their conditions. Do you think that the best that could happen to the Cup would be to stay right here?
A: During the last eight America's Cup campaigns -- from '58 on -- I've heard that remark many times. "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if the foreigners won it once. It would make it all more interesting." But strangely enough, this year, we're finding that where there's a real threat that the Cup would be lost, the American people that we encounter -- at least in Rhode Island and those who sail -- no longer say that. They want us to win. We've never had such cheering, encouragement, whistles and interest as we've seen this year. It's very heartwarming for all of us. This will be the biggest crowd of boats, ever. I'm a Rhode Islander. I like the America's Cup in Rhode Island.
Q: Who's gonna win?
A: It's gonna be a very back and forth series. We're gonna have a lot of trouble coping with this boat that has this peculiar design. Somehow I think we're gonna duke it out in the end. I think that it's very likely that Liberty will win. I'll say 4-2.