26 September 1983

Australia II wins the America’s Cup, ending the New York Yacht Club’s 132-year domination of the race.

Australia II’s victory in the America’s Cup is a significant moment in the history of sailing and sports in Australia. The America’s Cup is one of the oldest and most prestigious yacht racing competitions in the world, and it had been dominated by the United States for over a century until Australia II’s historic win in 1983.

The America’s Cup Tradition: The America’s Cup is a sailing race that dates back to 1851 when it was first held around the Isle of Wight, England. Since then, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) had successfully defended the cup for 132 years, making it the longest winning streak in sports history. The event had gained a reputation as the “oldest trophy in international sport.”

Australia’s Challenge: Australia had been trying to challenge for the America’s Cup for many years but had never been successful. In 1983, the Royal Perth Yacht Club, representing Australia, entered a challenging yacht named Australia II in the competition. The yacht was skippered by John Bertrand.

Innovation and the Winged Keel: Australia II was unique in its design, featuring a revolutionary keel known as the “winged keel.” This design, created by engineer Ben Lexcen, was a secret weapon. It had horizontal wings at the bottom of the keel, which provided greater stability and improved performance in various wind conditions. The design was kept a closely guarded secret until the competition.

The Race: The 1983 America’s Cup took place in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Australia II faced the defending champion, Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner. The best-of-seven series was intense and closely contested. Australia II won the first two races, but Liberty fought back to even the series at 2-2.

Historic Victory: The pivotal moment came in the fifth race. Australia II was behind Liberty but managed to overtake the American yacht. In a thrilling finish, Australia II crossed the finish line first, taking a 3-2 lead in the series. The Australian team went on to win the sixth race as well, securing a historic victory.

End of the Streak: Australia II’s victory ended the 132-year winning streak held by the NYYC. The winged keel design was revealed, and it became an iconic symbol of Australian innovation and determination.

Celebration: Australia celebrated the victory with great enthusiasm. The crew of Australia II became national heroes, and their achievement had a profound impact on the sport of sailing in Australia, inspiring a new generation of sailors.