There's nothing like winning to make a winner. As one soft, soggy day followed another off Newport, the sleek "Constellation" ghosted home first in race after race of the final trials to pick an America's Cup defender. Far behind, wallowing in frustration, was the heavy-weather champ, "American Eagle." In these doldrums there was no way to tell whether the once-triumphant "Eagle" was still the better boat in a blow. Connie was winning; that was the point. And from each win the radiations of victory spread to inflame her crew, her backers, her fans and eventually all of Newport. As the week ended with Connie 5 up on her rival, it seemed certain the selection committee would soon succumb to the contagion and name "Constellation" the defender.
The triumph of "Constellation" is a team triumph. Strategy and tactics are discussed before a race as former Cup Skipper Briggs Cunningham confers with Helmsman Bob Bavier (far left), Designer Olin Stephens (holding chin), Olin's brother Rod (white hair) and other team members. The result: Connie heads out in high spirits for another victory (below).
Like sports fans everywhere, the spectator fleet is quick to identify itself with the winner. Mock eagle feathers are on sale along the waterfront to signalize the Bird's difficulties, and the nautical equivalents of campaign buttons blossom daily from mastheads.
Rod Stephens, here pointing the way for Connie's crew, was invited aboard by Skipper Eric Ridder after the disasters of the early trials. His salty presence on deck, like the sure hand of Bob Bavier at the wheel, was a potent catalyst in turning defeat into victory.