25 years ago Australia II won the America's Cup
Almost 25 years have passed since they sailed into Australian folklore by snatching the America's Cup from its long-held reign, but the memories were as vivid as ever for the Australia II team as they gathered in the port city of Fremantle yesterday.
Alan Bond, flew in from the United Kingdom this week to attend the reunion of the day, September 27, 1983, when the crew did the unthinkable by breaking America's 132-year hold of the cup.
All but three of the 18 sailors and crewmen of the Bond syndicate gathered around the famous yacht at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle where they signed boxing kangaroo flags and reminisced of the glory heydays of the 1980s that followed the win.
Sailing team skipper John Bertram said he is still amazed when people stop to tell him what they were doing when he and the team crossed the finishing line in Newport, USA.
"I met someone the other day who was three years old and the first thing he remembers is being pulled out of bed by his mum and dad to see this yacht race," he said.
"I was told my the Minister of Immigration at the time there were more people naturalised as a result of that day than ever before or since in Australian history because they felt for the first time apart of this country's persona.
"It's a wonderful story and something I am very proud to be apart of."
Sailors Phil Smidmore and Rob Brown who spent the good part of 1983 flying back and fourth from their hometown's in Sydney to Perth to train for the cup said it was great to be back in WA.
Brown recalled the hysteria when the team returned to a hero's welcome in Australia.
"Usually we'd come into Sydney airport and walk off the plane and jump into a car and go home. It was quite the opposite when we arrived back in Sydney after the win," he said.
"The whole airstrip was lined with ground staff with boxing kangaroo flags. The tail of the plane was painted with a boxing kangaroo and they had boxing kangaroo cake onboard the plane for us. It was quite an eye opener for us because we hadn't realised the impact."
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by Aleisha Preedy
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