The yacht Freedom invented a new maneuver today -- sailing without sails. Dennis Connor's screaming-fast 12-meter perfected the 180-degree standing spin while she was on the way home under tow after defeating Clipper in America's Cup final trials.
The incentive behind this move was a 23-foot sloop that slid alongside Freedom just outside the harbor entrance, with three topless young women running her. The Freedom crew cast off the tow line and spun around for a closer look.
It was the biggest excitement of the day.
In the racing earlier, Conner's boat showed once again that it's only a matter of time until she is the only one left in the U.S. camp.
Conner lost the start to Clipper, his only remaining competition for selection as Cup defender. But on the first leg of the race, Freedom instituted a tacking duel and halfway up the leg had passed Clipper. Freedom never gave up the lead.
"We killed 'em," said Freedom crewman Tom Whidden. "They were all yelling at us when they won the start, 'See you later.' That gave us a little extra incentive."
Immediately after the results were known in Newport (the final margin of the race was 2 minutes 20 seconds), rumors began flying that it was the end for Clipper, that the selection committee would notify Freedom she was the choice for the September races against a foreign challenger.
There were crowds at both docks waiting to watch the formalities. But the selection committee never arrived. Evidently, Clipper has at least a day's more grace.
Clipper asked for a lay-day Thursday to work on heavy-weather sails. The two boats meet again Friday.