At Dennis Conner's invitation, Alan Bond dropped by his cabin cruiser Scotch Mist for drinks Saturday night. A good time was had by all, according to Bond, the feisty money man who for a dozen years has sent yachts sailing in pursuit of the America's Cup, now held by the Americans for whom Conner skippers Liberty.
"Dennis gave me one of his red jackets," Bond said, "and I traded him a blue sweater. Dennis is a fierce competitor, so we were joking about the day's goings-on. He said, 'Maybe I should get some pink stripes painted down the side of Liberty.' Then he wanted to have a look at the keel, but we wouldn't allow him."
Another beautiful dawn touched Newport this morning. Only the afternoon before, Bond was a furious storm on his own. The Americans would effectively change boats by rearranging weight on board and they should, Bond said, paint the yacht pink, as in pink frilly lace things, so the Aussies know which boat they're racing.
Early today, Bond again "stirred the possum," which is Aussie talk for controversy. "Alan is like the little boy who walks by the yard containing the mad dog and, just to agitate it, rattles a stick against the picket fence," said Ben Lexcen, designer of Australia II. Agitating, Bond now says he will not go to New York to receive the America's Cup trophy from the New York Yacht Club on Tuesday.
First, Bond doesn't like the NYYC stiffnecks who all summer alleged his Australia II was illegal. "The America's Cup is the only regatta in which the competitors don't congratulate you should you win. They haven't acted in a sportsmanlike manner. After we have won, they have turned their backs and sailed away."
Bond has asked, if his boat should win the the seventh race Monday, that the cup presentation be made here. The NYYC says no. "I will send a messenger to pick it up and bring it here in order that our entire crew can receive it," Bond said.
As for plans to fly to Australia, Bond said he would like a 747 jumbo jet. "Then we could all go back with the cup, saying, 'Thank you very much and would the last person leaving America turn out the lights?' "
Who is Alan Bond, and how'd he get this way?
Facts: Alan Bond is 46, a short and robust fellow, a British emigre to Australia at age 13, a multimillionaire with corporate assets over $450 million, a sailor from Perth who chases the America's Cup because "no one has ever won the bloody thing but the Americans, and my personal reward is doing something that nobody else in the world has ever done."
Legend: Alan Bond is Napoleon back for another go.
The distinguished Australian helmsman, Sir James Hardy, was skipper for Bond's first yacht here in 1974.
"Bondy called me on deck, there before the crew, and told of a time Napoleon called a failed general before the troops for a dressing down," Hardy said this morning, perhaps a day before Bond fetches the trophy held by the NYYC since 1851, only 30 years after Napoleon died.
"Bondy spoke on of Napoleon and the failed general, summarily relieved of his command. 'And then,' Bondy said, 'Napoleon hefted a pistol and shot the general dead.'
"I said, 'Bondy, do you have something in store for me?' He said, 'No, just get out there and stop losing.' "
Legend and fact are happily married in the saga of Alan Bond, once a sign painter in isolated West Australia and now a tycoon selling gold, oil, diamonds, beer, coal, tin and bricks as well as operating 100 retail stores and a luxury hotel.
"Bondy is smart, he works 25 hours a day and he inspires his people to do their best because they don't want to let him down," said Lexcen, a friend 15 years. "He's one of the people just born to succeed. If Australia was a communist country, he'd be a commissar."
Bond's mother, Lexcen said, "tells a story that right after World War II in England, there was a shortage of bottles and shops paid a penny for each bottle brought in. Alan was 5 years old and he organized his mates to bring him all the bottles they might find. He then took them in for the pennies.
"Bondy came to Australia, a poor boy of 13, and he has pulled himself up to be a household word. West Australia is like your Texas, with great distances between towns, and Alan painted railway stations. He would ride with the train, with a scaffolding on the engine, to paint the little sheds all pale blue. He would spray them.
"The story is, he was in such a hurry to get to the next station that he once sprayed a station without noticing there was a man standing asleep. So on some station in desolate West Australia, there is the outline of a drunk done by Alan Bond.
"If you go sailing off Perth, there is the beautiful blue green water and elegant suburbs above the beach. There also is this industrial area with a warehouse of sheet iron. There is a 150-foot-long sign on that warehouse that says, 'Dingo Flour.'
"Alan painted that. He points it out everytime."
Lexcen said he once visited the Duke of Wellington's house in London. He saw a huge painting on a wall.
"It was Napoleon standing as tall as he could," Lexcen said, "and as I looked at it, I realized it was the dead, spitting image of Alan."