NEW YORK, DEC. 10 -- Two more veteran yachtsmen said today they will build huge, 90-foot waterline boats to challenge Dennis Conner in next summer's America's Cup regatta, whether or not Conner agrees to race them.
Alan Bond, whose winged-keel Australia II won the Cup in 1983, and Briton Peter deSavary decried Conner's plan to exclude all challengers except New Zealand from the racing next September. Both said they will "be on the starting line" in September.
"The America's Cup should always include multiple challengers," said Bond at a news conference at the Hotel Pierre. "The precedent . . . is long-standing. The history of the Cup shows it to be vital to its success."
Bond and deSavary met with aspirants from Japan, Canada and France and New Zealand banker Michael Fay today to map strategy to expand Fay's Cup challenge to include as many boats as possible.
But only Bond and deSavary indicated they definitely would be ready with new boats in time to race.
Fay repeated his pledge to welcome additional competitors to vie for the right to sail against Conner.
But Conner's Sail America Foundation has vowed to allow no boats besides New Zealand's, citing its rights under the 100-year-old Cup Deed of Gift.
Bond, who spent 10 years and $20 million to win the Cup the first time, said he would seek to change Sail America's decision by persuasion, and court action if that failed.
Sail America is being forced to defend the Cup three years earlier than it intended by Fay's surprise challenge, which was upheld last month in New York State Supreme Court.
Sail America since has served notice Conner intends to beat the New Zealanders head-to-head as quickly as possible and return to his original plan for a multinational Cup event off San Diego in 1991.
But Bond said the Cup and the Deed of Gift don't belong to Conner or Sail America and he hasn't the right to exclude competitors. "They are simply custodians," said Bond, and for the good of the Cup, "the more challengers, the better."
Fay said he hopes to meet with Sail America officials early next week and will press for a multiple-challenge format. He said it will be his fourth trip to San Diego in search of a meeting, but he expects to get one this time to sort out details of the fast-approaching event.
But Sail America's representative here gave little sign of any increased willingness to negotiate. "We understand and agree with today's participants that the America's Cup is in a precarious position," said spokesman Jane Ellison in a prepared statement. "We welcome solutions, but solutions that protect all, not the few."