History of Young America
PACT 95, the syndicate owner of USA-36, asked Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), the New York artist among the leaders of the Pop Art movement, to decorate the boat before its launching in 1993. It would be one of the last ‘pieces’ he would complete before his death.
“The challenge was to create a design which mirrored the young, fresh spirit of the crew. It was then that I though of the mermaid, a colourful, mysterious character whose is comfortable and confident in her ocean home. I hope this blond will turn heads.“
And that is why the rural Storm King Art Centre became the definitive Young America home port; a choice venue for an exceptional piece of art to rest.
With the aim of repelling the 1995 America’s Cup challengers, three American teams dashed into the fray to take up the defence. For the San Diego Yacht Club, it was a question of defending the trophy re-won in Fremantle by Dennis Conner in 1987. It had already been defended triumphantly twice; firstly in 1988 by Dennis Conner, with his small catamaran, and then in 1992, by Bill Koch, in the first challenge of the America’s Cup Class era.
In 1995 each team built a ‘new generation’ boat. This may account for the American’s lack of success. Dennis Conner went with Stars and Stripes USA-34; Bill Koch supported the unforgettable female team with his Mighty Mary USA-43. Finally, John Marshall, and his PACT 95, representing the New York Yacht Club, built Young America USA-36.
The initiative of the syndicate from the state of Maine was original, to say the least. John Marshall was proud of it: “In the history of the America’s Cup, no other syndicate has offered anything like PACT 95’s education program.” Targeted towards the students of elementary and secondary schools this educational program suggested using the excitement engendered by the America’s Cup races to entice young people to discover and to learn the sciences and new technologies.
But beyond the educational posting, the major axis of PACT 95 was to produce a credible and effective defender, capable of winning the ultimate race. The chief designer of Young America, Bruce Nelson, benefited from the contribution of the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and the sheer horsepower of their great Cray supercomputers. Other American industrial leaders, Boeing, Ford, and MIT among them, made contributions as well.
Built in four and a half months at Goetz Custom Sailboats in Bristol, Rhode Island, the boat was christened with its emblematic mermaid painted on the side of the hull on January 7th, 1994. At this time, the skipper of the syndicate, Kevin Mahaney, a silver Olympics medalist in Soling Class in Barcelona’ 1992, trained with a brilliant team of young sailors, albeit inexperienced in the match racing atmosphere of the America’s Cup. But they were effectively prepared aboard Spirit of Unum USA-16, ex-Il Moro di Venezia IV by John Marshall, who used seven campaigns of experience to bolster his leadership.
On October 1994, in San Diego, USA-16 finished fourth out of the seven boats competing in the IACC World championships. On January 12th, 1995 the defence selection trials, the Citizen Cup, began. But just one week before racing, the PACT 95 syndicate had to deal with a calamity that could have ended the entire campaign before racing even began. On January 4th, the tornado “Dorothy” came down on San Diego. The sail-loft of the syndicate collapsed on the shed where Young America was stored. The hull suffered considerable damage.
But in just eight days, the team succeeded in repairing the boat and were ready for the first day of racing. Carrying the nicknames Mermaid or Blonde Mermaid, Young America now picked up yet another appellation from the tornado: Dorothy! This would not be the last ordeal the boat would experience…on March 12th, 1995, USA 36 was struck by a wave of more than three metres causing extensive damage to the entire structure.
Mighty Mary, Stars & Stripes and Young America thus competed to become the Defender. At the conclusion of the first four Citizen Cup round robins and semi-finals, the PACT 95 team was at the top of the table, looking strong with a 21 – 7 record.
But during the defender finals, Stars & Stripes made good an unexpected comeback that was vintage Dennis Conner. The Stars & Stripes squad won six of eight matches to become the eventual Defender. Young America collapsed with just three wins against five defeats.
But it was the opinion of nearly every observer that Stars & Stripes was the slowest and Young America the fastest of the three candidates. “Four months of defender trials have proven Young America’s hull has speed advantages,” said Dennis Conner. “This boat and the proven strengths of the Stars & Stripes team will be a winning combination in the upcoming America’s Cup.“
So Conner convinced PACT 95 to give his crew Young America to sail in the America’s Cup Match. The deal was made, but it wouldn’t be enough to secure the defence. Team New Zealand (also known as Black Magic) NZL-32 skippered by Peter Blake and helmed by Russell Coutts crushed Team Dennis Conner and Young America, sweeping the America’s Cup Match by five races to none. Black Magic would overpower the mermaid.
First nicknamed Blonde Mermaid or Mermaid then, after January 4 1995 and after suffering damage from a tornado, Dorothy.
Sail number: USA-36
Yacht Club: New York Yacht Club / San Diego Yacht Club, San Diego, California, USA
Unsuccessful defender of the 29th 1995 America’s Cup Challenge
Owner: Syndicate PACT 95 (founded in 1992), Partnership for America’s Cup Technology, Bangor, Maine, USA, with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), The Ford Motor Company, Cray Research, and the Boeing Company.
President: John K. Marshall.
Chief operating officer: Robert Hopkins, Jr.
International America’s Cup Class IACC
Design team lead by Principal Designer Bruce Nelson of Nelson/Marek Yacht Design
Design team manager: John Kuhn of SAIC
Design team: Jim Teeters from S & S, Carl Scrag (SAIC fluid dynamicist) and Karl Kirkman (SAIC expert on tank and wind tunnel testing)
Computer time and associated technical support: Cray super computers.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD), appendages design and wind tunnel test supervision (keel fins, ballast bulbs, wings, rudders and canards): Boeing
Scale model tests (towing tank and wind tunnel), model construction, CFD: Ford Motor Company
Overall design program, performance simulation: SAIC
Tank test facilities: University of Michigan towing tank with Grumman scientists
Wind tunnel facilities: University of Maryland
Technology team: MIT, Sparkman & Stephens, Ockam, Altair Engineering, Atlantic Applied Research Corp., FMA Consulting.
Builder: Goetz Custom Sailboats, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA
Sailmakers: Steve Gruver from North Sails, Steve Calder as sail designer
Year of building: 1993 – 1994 (building took 4 ½ months)
Christened: January 7, 1994.
Homeport: Harbour Court, Newport, Rhode Island, USA
During the defender selection trials, 1995 Citizen Cup
Skipper: Kevin Mahaney
Afterguard: John Kostecki as tactician, Ken Read as strategist, Robert Hopkins, Jr. as navigator.
During the 1995 America’s Cup races (5 to 13 May 1995)
Skipper/helmsman: Dennis Conner
Tactician: Tom Whidden
Navigator: Jim Brady
Tactical strategist/alternating helmsman: Paul Cayard
Construction –Carbon fiber
L.O.A.: 23.60 m
L.W.L.: 17.98 m
Beam: 4.57 m
Draft: 3.96 m
Sail area: 330.75 m2
Displacement: 27.500 tons
Mast: 33.50 m
The PACT’ 95 team had always considered Young America to be an art masterpiece, sporting a 22.80 m mermaid on its hull designed by the American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. He also painted a spinnaker.
The defender selection trials, known as the 1995 Citizen Cup, were sailed between the women’s team America3 Mighty Mary USA-43, the Team Dennis Conner Stars & Stripes USA-34 and PACT’95 Young America.
In the first defender round (January 12 – January 20), Young America won five of six races. In the second round (January 29 – February 7) it won two of four races. In the third round (February 15 – February 23), it won four of six. The fourth round sailed from March 2 to 8, Young America won three times and lost once. After this effort, Young America was in first place with 14 wins against six defeats.
The defender semi-finals were raced from March 16 to 31. Eight races were sailed, and all but one was one by Young America. Its score was excellent as it was ahead of Mighty Mary and Stars & Stripes.
In the defender finals (April 10 to 22), all the three boats raced. Eight matches were sailed. Young America was beaten five times and was eliminated. Stars & Stripes was selected as the official defender of the 1995 America’s Cup!
It was an astonishing reversal of fortune as although Young America had the best overall won-loss record of 24 wins against 12 losses, it was eliminated. The winner, Stars & Stripes was thought to be the slowest of the three boats.
The evidence for thiswas so strong that Team Dennis Conner requested the PACT 95 boat to race and defend the 1995 America’s Cup. So Dennis Conner’s crew raced with Young America instead of with Stars & Stripes.
But the dream was a short-lived one…
The 1995 America’s Cup races: 6 to 13 May 1995 off San Diego, California –
First to win fives races out of nine races
Young America raced against the challenger Team New Zealand NZL-32
Races: five sailed.
Race Course: 18.5 nautical miles off San Diego, six legs windward leeward course with downwind finish.
Team New Zealand Black Magic beat Young America by five wins to nil!
– 6 May 1st race: Team New Zealand beat Young America by 2 minutes 45 seconds.
– 8 May 2nd race: Team New Zealand beat Young America by 4 minutes 14 seconds.
– 9 May 3rd race: Team New Zealand beat Young America by 1 minute 51 seconds.
– 11 May 4th race: Team New Zealand beat Young America by 3 minutes 37 seconds.
– 13 May 5th race: Team New Zealand beat Young America by 1 minute 50 seconds.
Team Dennis Conner, sailing Young America, lost the America’s Cup.
The NYYC / Young America Challenge for the America’s Cup bought TAG Heuer NZL-39 (Bruce Farr’s design, 1995). Rechristened as Spirit of Rhodes Island USA-39, it was used as a sparring partner to Young America.
Hall Spars, exclusive partner to the syndicate, tested spars on these two IACC boats.
On May 5th, when USA-36 was craned out of the water, its bulb touched the ground and came off the keel. The port side of the hull was damaged in the incident.
Both Young America and Spirit of Rhodes Island were shipped to Auckland for training on the America’s Cup course.
GBR Challenge attempts to buy Young America. But the deal is never concluded.
The Storm King Art Center of Mountainville, NY, buys Young America USA-36 (alias Mermaid, Blonde Mermaid or Dorothy). The boat is considered to the largest piece of art by Roy Lichtenstein and possibly his final one as Roy died in 1997. The boat is certainly the only America’s Cup contender to end its life as an art masterpiece in a Museum.