The waters off Newport, R.I., are starting to boil already. Ted Turner's defending America's Cup team, sailing Courageous again, has just completed a week's tuneup trials against Clipper, sailed by well-heeled 24-year-old Russell Long.
Gary Jobson of Annapolis returned from the matches ebullient, reporting a 12-2 advantage against Clipper after 14 races. "Both boats have good speed, and most important of all, Ted is really hot," said Jobson, who as tactician has the job of giving his extremely self-confident skipper battle maneuvers under fire.
Clipper and Courageous are friendly adversaries, but both have a theoretically equal shot at the cup defense. Even so, the psychgological warfare is underway. Jobson describes his own team as "awesome."
Young Long, backed by his family's shipping dollars and cloaked in underdog chic, has taken to describing his crew as "the vanguard of youth." Clipper represents the "forerunners of a new generation of sailors, a new breed of young men who believe in the same kinds of basic qualities which are integral to our nation's vitality and strength. . . we are the new patriots." If he misses the cup, he can always become secretary of state.
As Long and Turner's boats finished their week of sail testing and tuning, Denis Connor's Freedom and Enterprise took over the course -- and are still there today. Connor, whose motto is "no excuse to lose," raced his syndicate's two 12-Meters all winter in San Diego. Connor gets his choice of which boat to sail, and he has clearly done more 12-Meter sailing this year than anyone.
Nevertheless, Turner and Connor are not yet ready to face each other. That will happen only in the actual trials this summer.
"When we were on the course, they stayed off it," said Jobson. "There's not enough water in Newport for the two of us."
America's Cup boats are a bit over 60 feet long, with no accommodations whatever. Lunch is a Coke and a sandwich eaten in the shade of the bilge.
That's not quite the way it's done aboard the Danmark, the Danish square-rigger that spent last week at Pier Four on the Potomac. When Ambassador Otto Borch and Captain Vilhelm Hansen invite you aboard, luncheon is done right.
The vessel is manned by 80 merchant marine cadets, who sleep in hammocks and dine en masse. Hansen's lot is better. In a highly polished officer's mess under the poop, course after course of herring, lamb and crisp vegetables made the rounds, punctuated by toasts in acquavit. "Tack" means thanks, but after a half-dozen toasts it can also mean "come about," if you're not careful.
"It's a tradition to drink hard liquor at lunch," said Jorgen Bojer of the Danish Embassy. "Not wine, like the French. You have nothing else to do this afternoon, have you?"
Knud Nielsen, a dashing young training officer, then signaled for more acquavit. Tack.
Alone on the bridge during these revels was Daniel Moreland, 26, a Cleveland Park native and graduate of the Maret School. He was overcome by the romance of tall ships at age 18, and seemed crestfallen to be discovered as the only American to have infiltrated the Danmark's officer corps. Moreland has not only learned to speak Danish, but to speak square-rigger: as, "haul in the port fore-topgallant inner buntline."
Tack. And abandon ship and acquavit.
The new marine head regulations, which went into effect Jan. 1 for all vessels, are not necessarily the problem they have been made out to be, the Coast Guard says.
It is now illegal to discharge waste directly overboard, which means a holding tank must be installed in most small boats equipped with the old style pump-out head.
"But all you really have to do is get one of those five-gallon plastic gasoline jerry-jugs, the ones that are Coast Guard approved and already vented," explained Petty Officer David Itzel of Group Baltimore. "Just rig the discharge hose into that, instead of through the hull. You can empty the jug when you get ashore. We're not requiring that people spend hundreds of dollars for a special installation."
A look at the head is now included in the safety checklist the Coast Guard uses after boarding your boat. The old discharge line must not only be plugged, but physically severed, unless it leads to a holding tank, Itzel said.
The annual spring regatta of the Potomac River Sailing Association will be held May 24 and 25 off Hains Point. Registration will be at Washington Sailing Marina 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday. This three-race event for 10 classes is also a world qualifier for lasers. Information from Bill Bolger, 202-659-8514.