The Australia II yacht made history in the world’s oldest sporting trophy by winning the 1983 America’s Cup for Royal Perth Yacht Club. Skippered by John Bertrand with an innovative winged keel design, she was the first successful Cup challenger, ending 132-year tenure by the Americas Yacht Clubs. Inspiring a proud and winning spirit, this Australia II wooden model yacht makes a fine nautical decoration to the theme of any office or study-room.
The 12-metre class Australia II yacht was designed by Ben Lexcen and launched in 1982. Under Captain John Bertrand of Royal Perth Yacht Club, the ship was the first successful challenger to the America’s Cup, making history for Australia’s Sailing Sport. Indeed, its victory brought a 132-year dominance of the New York Yacht Club, including a whopping 26 defenses of their title. Designed with reduced waterline length and also a short-chord winged keel, the boat was far more mobile than those which came before it. The innovation was so impressive, in fact, that it was questioned by the New York Yacht Club. She was also quite innovative in that she included vertical sail designs, and also a lightweight carbon fibre boom: hallmarks of its innovative, unique conditioning.
Controversy aside, the ship managed to make a huge splash in 1983 when she won the Louis Vuitton Cup. She was a dominant part in the cup, defeating the well-respected Azzurra in the semi-finals before she won the trophy outright with a win against the Victory ’83. This gave her the right to enter the America’s Cup. The would face off against the Liberty, captained by Dennis Conner. The race was incredible, with the best-of-7 format seeing the Australia II come from behind to win 4-3. The victory was a major moment for Australian sport and led to her being awarded the ABC Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year Award – she had broken the longest continuous winning streak in any sport in history. Alongside Bertrand, though, was the likes of Will Baillieu and Colin Beashal. Brian Richardson was there, too, with his dual-Olympic wins as an oarsman making him a standout of the team.
After its incredible wins, though, the shop was sold by owner Alan Bond to the Australian government. Then, she was lent to the National Maritime Museum in Sydney until 2000. She was then moved to the Freemantle museum, the Western Australian Maritime Museum. She was shipped over to the Isle of Wight to celebrate the 150th anniversary celebrations of the America’s Cup, with the original crew taking command one more time. The Australia II returned to Freemantle after that, and is on permanent display for all to admire.