Back in 1987, following the Americia’s Cup win, a ‘Mini America’s Cup’ was arranged and held at Bibra Lake !! This was an Radio Controlled Yachting event and not the full sized versions !
A record of the event has been compiled by The Australian Radio Yachting Association (Incorporated) (ARYA) (the National Authority for Radio Sailing in Australia). Their records show :
An event was put together between the USA and Western Australia to coincide with the America’s Cup races in Western Australia in 1987.
The venue for the event was to be held at Bibra Lake. The West Coast Model Yacht Club sailed on the western shore of this lake. A series of races were arranged to find the best Australian skipper. The winner of the elimination series would have two weeks to tune the EC12 before the Mini- Cup Series.
The American Skipper, Don Abma, when he got back to the States he reported that he really got beaten by the tricky “Fremantle Doctor”. There is nothing “tricky” about it, it just blows strongly and something evidently the American was not used to. Dan Abma said that other factors in him losing was that his boat was so damaged in transit and could not handle the heavy conditions and that he was plagued by radio problems. By the time Dan’s boat got back to the states it was totally wrecked. The Americans said they would have to look into doing some ‘serious’ packing of the boat in future.
This is all well and good but the actual situation was not quite as he reported it.
In reality the Western Australian Model Association took his damaged boat, (the deck was lifted in one section and the keel was damaged) and repaired it for him. While it was being repaired, the host club provided “matching and alike” boat, built by the same builder, so Dan could practice some racing on the Venue as his boat was being repaired. On this occasion, being the visitor, Dan got to choose his boat (of the two) after trying them both out first, on the Saturday. This was an all day Match Racing regatta. Racing started mid morning (10.00 am) on the Saturday in light winds (the ‘Doctor’ didn’t arrive that day). With a break for the traditional Aussie BBQ lunch. The Australian Michael Bell won the series 8-0. While the racing was going on Maxine Bell was taking the American wives around, sightseeing.
All the Mini-America’s cup courses are sailed over a similar 8 leg America’s cup course.
On the next day, Sunday, the race with the models coincided with the ‘Stars & Stripes’12 metre starting their (full size) Cup Series (race 2#) off the West Coast. Dan Abma‘s boat had been beautifully repaired by Doug and Peter Collins and was ready to go. Dan was given time by his hosts to try out his boat and another leisurely start was made on the Mini-America’s Cup event, at 11.00 am. This time, the breeze had started to increase by the local “Fremantle Doctor”. Now without doubt when this wind comes rushing in about 11.45 am in the morning and it generally stays all day. So it was pretty tricky racing for both boats. Michael Bell, the skipper of the Australian boat had his hands full for he was quite new to the class of boat and had never raced against another one till this first race. Michael said that when he started, the only tactic he could think of was to cover his opponent, Dan. Up the course they went with Abma in front with the Australian, covering, covering. Abma swept around the top mark, first with Bell close behind. Down wind it was another story for the American got into the ‘wobblers’ with the gibing, losing fifteen boat lengths in the strong wind and was passed by the Australian, never to be headed. The whole series seemed to go like this first race, to score an impressive 4-0.
While you may think it was all plain sailing on the part of Michael Bell, Dan Abma did have quite a lot of radio problems especially near the starting line on the first two races. The Australians graciously said they would cancel these first two races and then start the series again. The American, however, insisted that the races already sailed, were to stand.
A lavish presentation evening was held after the event and sponsored at Toyota‘s Training Center in Fremantle. A large trophy called the “R/C America’s Cup Kookaburra 1V Trophy” was presented to the winner, Michael Bell of the West Coast Model Yacht Club by the Kookaburra 1V Task force Syndicate sponsor.
This Kookaburra 1V trophy was a lavish gold half model of the winged- keeled Kookaburra 1V, set onto an engraved board. It certainly impressed me. Michael Bell still has his trophy. Michael is now a resident of Sydney and the proud owner of an IOM.