Australia II: The Pride of Australia
The 132-year dominance of the New York Yacht Club in defending the America’s Cup was broken in 1983 by the Australia II. This 12-meter racing yacht was superbly designed and skippered by John Bertrand to become the first yacht outside the US to win the fabled cup. The win was so profound that model sailboats of the Australia II started popping up around the country in honour of the win.
The Australia II yacht has a special place in the history of Australia thanks in large part to the unique, forward-thinking design and the perseverance of her crew.
Under the ownership of Alan Bond, the Australia II was designed by Ben Lexcen and constructed by Steve Ward. John Bertrand became the captain and the yacht itself soon displayed remarkable steering capabilities. All thanks to a shorter waterline length and short cord winged keel, the boat could manoeuvre superbly in calm waters thanks to the lower centre of gravity. However, it did have some issues in choppy seas.
So revolutionary was the winged keel design that its legality was questioned by the New York Yacht Club upon its arrival at the selection trials for the cup in 1983. With the ruling in favour of the Australia II, the yacht participated in and won the Louis Vuitton Cup, dominating the competition. The win allowed the Australia II to participate in the America’s Cup that year.
The Australia II went up against the 12-metre boat Liberty under the command of Dennis Conner. The competition took place in September of 1983 off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. Coming from behind, the Australia II managed to win the best-of-seven competition four races to three.
The performance was so remarkable as to be considered a landmark event for the Royal Perth Yacht Club, under whom the Australia II raced and the Australian nation itself. The performance of the Australia II in winning the America’s Cup was so profound that it won the Athlete of the Year for 1983 from ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
By the mid-1980s, the Australia II was sold to the government and spent the first several years at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney until 1991. She was relocated to the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle where she can be found today. In 2001, she was sent to the Isle of Wight and sailed with the original crew for several days as part of a commemorative ceremony.
The success of the Australia II and its place in history has led to the creation of the model sailing yacht which can be found in homes and offices across the country. At Seacraft Gallery, we use only the finest materials to create a handcrafted, detailed, durable model boat in different sizes, from wall mount picture to full display. Contact us to day for a beautiful replica of the Australia yacht.