Coutts relies on Black Magic
Coutts, a former world match racing champion, was the man who displaced Davis as skipper when tensions boiled over on the little red New Zealand boat for the final two races of the Louis Vuitton in 1992.
Davis, a native of San Diego who won Olympic gold for the US, watched grim-faced as Coutts lost to the Italians. But he restored his pride by winning silver in Barcelona for New Zealand, where he has a wife and children, and then joined the Australians for the 1995 cup.
Bertrand is the only skipper to have beaten the Americans in the 144-year history of the cup. He arrived in California as favourite to beat the other six challengers because of a strong technological programme, but, while the much lower-key Team New Zealand were unbeaten in their first three races, Bertrand lost one against the Japanese, won one against his rival Australian, Syd Fischer, and took a day off in between.
Neither side took any risks in the pre-start, but when they hit the line, Coutts seemed to have negated the advantage Davis wanted in controlling the left side of the line by dialling in so much extra height in the direction of the upwind turning mark that he seemed ready to burn Davis off.
But the Australians were able not only to match the Kiwis for speed, they came back at them and forced Coutts to break away. Then shifting conditions took over, the light winds were variable and changing constantly in direction.
The first two races of the day - the other Anzac battle where Syd Fischer's Sydney '95, helmed by Chris Law, left Chris Dickson in Tag Heuer stuck on the start line, and Nippon Challenge sailed away from Spain's Pedro Campos, parked behind the start linefor over two minutes - were abandoned as they could not make the 50-minute deadline for the first 3.75-mile leg.
But the second Anzac duo made it with just three minutes to spare and within half a mile of the turn Davis passed ahead of Coutts. The black boat, with crewman Murray Jones perched 80 feet above the deck up the mast looking for tell-tale puffs of breeze on the water, stood on out to sea, turned, passed ahead of oneAustralia and rounded 55.5sec in the lead, which they maintained for the first run., and extended to 1 min 27sec on the next leg.
And on the defender course the first meeting between the two new boats, Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes and Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95, had the young American giving the old campaigner a good race, despite Conner's ability to read what the fickle breeze would do next, and Pact was leading by over a minute at the end of the opening leg, but this was cut to 20sec at the half-way point.
America's Cup Challenger SERIES, Standings (San Diego): Team New Zealand (NZ), 3pts; Nippon Challenge (Japan), 2; Sydney '95 (Aus), 2; oneAustralia (Aus), 1; Tag Heuer (NZ), 1; Bayona-Valencia (Sp) 0; France America (Fr), 0.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...