stars stripes

Stars & Stripes (yacht)

Stars & Stripes is the name of a series of racing yachts operated by Dennis Conner to compete in the America's Cup. The name "Stars & Stripes" refers to the nickname often used for the flag of the United States.

12-metre class yachts

1987 America's Cup

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

  • Stars and Stripes 83 (US 53) built in 1985 by Geraghty Marine, designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick.
  • Stars and Stripes 85 (US 54) built in 1985 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick. Proved to be faster than Stars and Stripes '83.
  • Stars and Stripes 86 (US 56) built in 1987 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick. Designed with a different keel and more sail area.
  • Stars and Stripes 87 (US 55) built in 1987 by Robert E. Derektor Inc., designed by Chance/Nelson/Pedrick. 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 in the 1987 America's Cup to win the cup back for the USA.

The Dennis Conner saga, from 1983 America's Cup loss to America's Cup 27 win, and Star and Stripes is dramatized in the movie Wind, however the yacht in the film is called Geronimo, not Stars and Stripes.

Catamaran-hull yachts

1988 America's Cup

Due to unrestricted rules in 1988, Conner enlisted the help of designers Chance & Hubbart & MacLane, and aircraft manufacturer Scaled Composites, to fabricate a revolutionary catamaran, Stars and Stripes (US-1), which dominated over KZ1, the challenger from New Zealand. The New Zealand team sued and won the America's Cup trophy in a court case; however, on appeal, the San Diego Yacht Club won it back.

Team Dennis Conner (Team DC) chose to use a catamaran design, because the surprise challenge by Sir Michael Fay left limited time to design a J-class boat to compete on equal terms. As the challenge used the original Deed of Gift as its basis, there were no explicit design requirements so the San Diego Yacht Club and Dennis Conner's syndicate chose the assuredly faster multi-hull design. Two Stars and Stripes cats were built, one with a conventional soft sail (Stars and Stripes S1), and the second with a hard sail (Stars and Stripes H3) built by Scaled. The hard sail proved faster and was used in defense.

After the 32nd America's Cup, the hard sail yacht 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.

2008 Port Huron to Mackinac race

Fossett's Stars & Stripes yacht was entered in the 84th running of the annual yacht 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, just off Alpena, Michigan. The yacht was again de-masted mid race in heavy winds while leading a rival multihull yacht Earth Voyager, which then went on to finish the race in record time.

International America's Cup Class

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. 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 the slowest of the three defending yachts, and as the defender can choose which boat to use, Team DC selected to use Young America, considered the fastest defender, 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. 2000 America's Cup Conner again ran a 1-boat campaign, entering "Stars & Stripes USA-55". Eliminated in the semi-final repachage by OneWorld Challenge. 2003 America's Cup Conner's $5 million 2002 entrant, Stars & Stripes USA-77, an International Americas Cup Class yacht, was sunk on July 23, 2002 when a rudder broke during preparations for the 20022003 races to select the challenger for the America's Cup. The boat was raised out of 55 feet 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. 2007 America's Cup Conner announced that he could not raise sufficient funds for another Cup challenge.


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