THE man charged with finding the true creator of Australia II’s winged keel for the America’s Cup Hall of Fame came to the same conclusion in 2005 as that claimed in yesterday’s Herald : the basic research and design was done by two Dutchmen.John Rousmaniere, a journalist, America’s Cup historian and member of the Hall of Fame committee who volunteered to be “a one-man jury”, said the board decided to honour Ben Lexcen as the design team’s leader because there was no doubt he had been the force behind the overall design of Australia II.A flood of callers from the sailing fraternity – including Australia II’s owner, Alan Bond – rushed to the late Lexcen’s defence after the Dutch naval architect Peter van Oossanen told the Herald Lexcen played only a minor role in the design of the keel that was widely credited with Australia II’s triumph over Liberty in 1983.Rousmaniere agreed that the main design work on the keel had been done by van Oossanen and the Dutch aerodynamicist Joop Slooff, but said the Hall of Fame had honoured the overall design of Australia II.”It was the most radical boat anyone had seen,” he said. ”It was like an aeroplane that flew upside down. It was not just the winged keel. It was smaller and it had other design innovations. There were refinements made during construction – there was the rigging and perfect sails – and that made this the extraordinary boat that passed the Americans in that last race.”Australia II’s campaign manager, John Longley, recovered a document yesterday showing van Oossanen had vouched for Lexcen as the sole designer.An angry Bond told the Herald that van Oossanen’s claims were ”codswallop” and an insult to Lexcen’s memory. He had seen Lexcen’s drawings of the keel and its winglets long before the Dutch were recruited to conduct tank tests for the syndicate. Bond also said van Oossanen’s suggestion that he paid him $25,000 as hush money was ”malicious”.Carl Ryves was 14 when Lexcen, then 18, came to live with his family at Hunters Hill in 1955. The following year, Lexcen used wings on a Moth he built; he used them again in 1958 with his ”revolutionary” 18-footer the Taipan, a design that had persevered to this day.”I knew of nobody else in the world using wings back then,” said Ryves, a former Olympic yachtsman who became Lexcen’s best friend.Rousmaniere is still a member of the Hall of Fame board. Asked whether there was any prospect of Lexcen being stripped of his honour, he said definitely not.As for jeopardising the America’s Cup win, he noted the Americans had agreed to race against Australia II even though there was controversy over its design at the time.
Nanjing Night Net

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