Stars & Stripes (America's Cup syndicate)

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Stars & Stripes
Stars and Stripes IACC.jpg
Stars & Stripes
Established 1987
Nation United States
Team principal(s) Dennis Conner
Skipper Dennis Conner
Notable victories 1987 America's Cup
1988 America's Cup
1987 Louis Vuitton Cup
Sail no. Boat name
US–53 Stars & Stripes 83
US–54 Stars & Stripes 85
US–56 Stars & Stripes 86
US–55 Stars & Stripes 87
US–1 Stars & Stripes 88
USA–11 Stars & Stripes
USA–34 Stars & Stripes
USA–77 Stars & Stripes

Stars & Stripes is the name of an America's Cup syndicate operated by Dennis Conner and its racing yachts. The name "Stars & Stripes" refers to the nickname often used for the flag of the United States.

12-metre class yachts[edit]

Main article: 1987 America's Cup

The well funded Sail America Foundation commissioned four 12 metre yachts to support a campaign led by Dennis Conner, representing the San Diego Yacht Club, to win back the America's Cup in the 1987 competition in Fremantle, Australia.

  • Stars & Stripes 83 (US 53) built in 1985 by Geraghty Marine, designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick.
  • Stars & Stripes 85 (US 54) built in 1985 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick. Proved to be faster than Stars & Stripes '83.
  • Stars & Stripes 86 (US 56) built in 1986 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick.[1][2] Designed with a different keel and more sail area.
  • Stars & Stripes 87 (US 55) built in 1986 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick.[1][3] Designed and built with the experience gained from the first three designs. Stars & Stripes 87 won the trials to select the challenger and went on to defeat the Australian defender Kookaburra III by 4 races to nil to win the Cup back for the USA.

The movie Wind is loosely based on Dennis Conner's experience, from the 1983 America's Cup loss to his America's Cup win in Perth, and on a number of events that occurred on various competitor boats throughout the match races of the 1987 America's Cup. For artistic reasons, the 12 metre Stars & Stripes 87 was dramatized in the film as Geronimo.

Catamaran-hull yachts[edit]

Main article: 1988 America's Cup

The surprise challenge by Sir Michael Fay caught the San Diego Yacht Club unprepared. They initially rejected the challenge, but were compelled to respond when Mr. Fay brought the matter before the New York courts. The court's decision was handed down in November 1987, leaving little time to prepare for the 1988 challenge race.[4]

As the challenge used the original Deed of Gift as its basis, the design requirements specified only that she be a single masted yacht no more than 90 feet at the waterline. The San Diego Yacht Club and Dennis Conner's syndicate chose to respond with an assuredly faster multi-hull design. Conner enlisted the help of designers Morrelli, Chance & Hubbart & MacLane, and aircraft manufacturer Scaled Composites. Two Stars & Stripes cats were built, one with a conventional soft sail (Stars & Stripes S1), and the second with a wing mast (Stars & Stripes H3) built by Scaled Composites. The wing masted boat proved to have superior performance, and so was used in the defense.

Gino J. Morelli, Britton Chance, Jr., Dave W. Hubbard, and Duncan T. MacLane were the team of designers that worked with Dennis Conner in the creation of the first ever America's Cup catamaran, in the 1988 Americas cup challenge - Stars & Stripes. The team worked with the company Scaled Composites to create the wing design and built the two catamarans in Capistrano Beach, California at RD Boatworks.

Gino J. Morelli, the team's leader, had a passion for catamarans and had been racing and building the large C & D class cats, designed for use in the Little America cup event, in Costa Mesa, California.[5]

Britton Chance, Jr. was a young naval architect whose father Britton Chance was a former Olympic sailor and Gold Medal winner, whom had been designing racing monohulls and had authored "The Design and Performance of Twelve Meter Yachts",[6] Published by: American Philosophical Society

Dave W. Hubbard, worked with the team from Scaled Composites in the development of the giant wing section designed for use by one of the 2 60 foot catamarans that were built to compete in the 1998 race.[7] Hubbard designed the winged system for the Oracle Racing America's Cup defender, USA-17 that defended the cup in 2010.

Duncan MacLane, a key member of Dennis Connor's successful Stars and Stripes 1988 Catamaran design and sailing team, later went on to win the "Little Americas Cup" International Catamaran Challenge Trophy in 1996 at the McCrae Yacht Club in Australia in the final race of that series using the C Class catamarans. MacLane now builds wing sections for the current competitors in the 2012 Americas Cup event.[8]

To no one's surprise, Stars & Stripes dominated its match races with KZ 1, the challenger from New Zealand. Following the race the New Zealand team sued and initially won the America's Cup trophy in a court case. The decision was reversed on appeal, and the San Diego Yacht Club retained the Cup.

After the 1988 America's Cup, the wing masted catamaran was bought by Mexican yachtsman Victor Tapia and sails in Mexico. The soft sail yacht was bought by Steve Fossett and used to set speed records in various yacht races.

The soft sail yacht suffered a dismasting during a Mackinac race which resulted in her being stored for several years. In 2015, Freddie Mills acquired the vessel and has re-rigged and re-commissioned her as a private racing yacht operating out of Newport, Rhode Island.

2008 Port Huron to Mackinac race[edit]

Fossett's Stars & Stripes yacht was entered in the 84th running of the annual Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race to Mackinac from Port Huron, Michigan, and was favored to win and set a new record time. An experienced Chicago sailor Donald Wilson captained the yacht, chartering it from a Florida businessman for both the Port Huron and Chicago to Mackinac races. The same yacht previously competed in the 74th running of the Port Huron regatta (1998) but was unable to complete the race after the mast broke off near Alpena, Michigan.[9] The yacht was again dismasted mid-race in heavy winds while leading a rival multihull yacht Earth Voyager, which then went on to finish the race in record time.[10]

International America's Cup Class[edit]


Main article: 1992 America's Cup

Conner's 1992 IACC AC yacht, Stars & Stripes USA-11 lost the defender series final, the Citizen Cup, to Bill Koch's America3 USA-23.


Main article: 1995 America's Cup

Conner's 1995 AC yacht, Stars & Stripes USA-34 won the defender series, the Citizen Cup against Young America USA-36 and Mighty Mary USA-43, by use of tactics. However, it was considered to be the slowest of the three defending yachts, partially due to an old sail inventory, and also a result of neglecting important recommendations from the design team.[citation needed] The defender can choose which boat to use, so Team DC selected Young America, considered the fastest defender,[11] instead of Stars & Stripes in the America's Cup final, losing to Team New Zealand. Dennis Conner did not run a two boat campaign due to cost, so there was no second Stars & Stripes.


Main article: 2000 America's Cup

Conner again ran a one-boat campaign, entering Stars & Stripes USA-55. Eliminated in the semi-final repechage by OneWorld Challenge.


Main article: 2003 America's Cup

Conner's $5 million 2002 entrant, Stars & Stripes USA-77, was sunk on July 23, 2002 when a rudder broke during preparations for the 2002–2003 races to select the challenger for the America's Cup. The boat was raised out of 55 feet (17 m) of water just outside Long Beach Harbor. Conner's luck that year would not improve, as Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing, two well financed boats, would contest for the spotlight. Conner had a backup and training vessel available, Stars & Stripes USA-66, which he raced until USA-77 could be repaired.


Main article: 2007 America's Cup

Conner announced that he could not raise sufficient funds for another Cup challenge.


  1. ^ a b "12 Metre Yachts by Country". Trivia Classic Racing Yacht. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  2. ^ "The 12-Metre Class America's Cup Contenders 1958 -1987". Sail World. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  3. ^ "The America’s Cup Ultimate Sail.Com". 
  4. ^ Gabriel, Trip (May 29, 1988). "War at Sea". New York Times Magazine. p. 5. 
  5. ^ Hill, Taylor (March 20, 2014). "Catamaran designer writing America's Cup rules". Huntington Beach Wave. p. 16. 
  6. ^ Chance, Jr., Britton (December 1987). "The Design and Performance of Twelve Meter Yachts". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (American Philosophical Society) 131 (4): 378–396. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  7. ^[dead link]
  8. ^ "Harbor Wing Technologies - Autonomous Unmanned Surface Vessel - Company". 
  9. ^ Detroit Free Press Queens of speed are set to sail - 12 July 2008[dead link]
  10. ^ The Sarnia Observer Earth Voyager sets record time at Mackinac - 14 July 2008
  11. ^ "1995 Young America USA-36". 33rd America's Cup. [dead link]

External links[edit]