Ted Turner and his great yacht Courageous are hanging on the edge of America's Cup oblivion.
Courageous suffered two more damaging defeats today in final trials to select a U.S. defender for the Cup races next month.
Turner was whipped convincingly in mild breezes by Clipper, the yacht of 24-year-old Russell Long. Turner has raced seven times in the final trials and lost all but one race. Today, the starts of the races were reasonably even, but Clipper hauled ahead, apparently on simple superior boat speed. The moment of termination appears imminent.
Unsuccessful skippers in the defense drive traditionally are notified of the end by members of the selecting committee, who arrive at the dock by lunch, dressed in blue sport coats.
"Are you looking for the guys in the blazers?" Turner was asked this evening.
"We know what they look like," he said. "We've seen them before."
A member of Clipper's staff suggested the end did not come tonight only because Courageous' crew was scheduled to dine with the selection committee abroad the committee yacht.
"It would have made for an unpleasant meal," he said.
The Americans raced today after waiting out a long morning of no wind. The foreign boats, which are approaching the end of their semi-final preliminary rounds, did not have as much luck. By rules, they must race by 2 p.m. or cancel for the day. The wind had not arrived by then and racing was called off.
That puts the foreign contenders in a bind. The Swedish Severige and France 3 asked that Monday be a lay day. Winds are expected to be light again. The schedule calls for all racing in the semifinal series to end Tuesday. As a result, with Monday off, only one official day of racing remains.
The Australians, tied in their best-of-seven series with Sverige, 2-2, thus face a sudden death.
Australia was strongly favored to win these trials, but she lost her last two races to Sverige because of mast problems. The rules say that whoever leads a semifinal series on the last day of racing wins it, whether or not he has four wins.
The British Lionheart trails her series with France, 3-2. Should France win Tuesday it would sew it up. But if Britain wins, to tie 3-3, an extra day of racing would be held Wednesday or Thursday to break that deadlock.
Final trails for foreign boats will begin Friday, between the two winners.
Monday will not be an off day for the Americans. Courageous is slated to race Dennis Conner's Freedom, which has yet to be defeated in these final trials.