Leave Dennis alone!
by Capt Marty Rijkuris, Asian Yachting on 12 Aug 2004
Dennis Conner - still in top form
I believe the Dennis Conner bashing thread last week as he raced in the 2004 Etchells World Championship is dead.
However, as I have just got back to HQ after watching the crafty 64 year old sailing legend earn a lot of Aussie respect while the media hype was going on, by heading out onto the water and giving a number of world champs, Around the World and America's Cup crews plus Olympic Games medallists and a charge of local aspirants one hell of a sailing lesson during the highly respected one design World Championships held in Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Tell me which of the bashers has done something like this recently?
Dennis not only finished a credible 5th from 85 entrants but would have finished 3rd overall had he not got caught up in a start line luffing duel with his old AC foe John Bertrand and inspiring Aussie maxi super-yacht skipper Grant Wharington, to get drawn across the line to incur a 20% penalty in the last race.
I could only come away with a lot of respect for this sailing great who has lived a life time of top-end racing campaigns to become known as Mr America's Cup.
He can still turn up at what was little more than a club event and share some of his incredible sailing knowledge with the local community and still sail two races a day in 15 to 18 knots (one of his biggest complaints) without all the security guards and media circus that he has had to become used to.
During an informal get together night, Dennis was quick to tell everybody present that he still fully owns two America’s Cup yachts that would have beaten Team New Zealand given the same conditions last time round.
As the Cup now is in Europe, Dennis would need to raise over 100 million to become a top class challenger. He would not be interested in going as a lowly funded B class team doomed for failure.
A few potential syndicates have made approaches about buying Stars and Stripes, but when it comes to paying up, they have either experienced long pauses or got the jitters.
As for disgracing the 100% healthy Ozzie meat pies, I have forgotten how well they go down on cold winter mornings with a hot cappuccino coffee. As Lisa Curry-Kenny pointed out, at over 100 calories per pie, plenty to burn up around the race course - but be warned, they may be addictive!
To see some of the best AY photos of the 2004 Etchells World Championship: