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Whichever American syndicate does make it to the finals could be in deep trouble. Spirit of Australia skipper Peter Gilmour says, "The challengers in this modern America's Cup era have a great advantage." Why? The challengers have four times as many teams as the defenders (eight to two) and five times as many boats (20 to four). So far the challengers that have made the most of that advantage are France's Ville de Paris, Italy's Il Moro di Venezia and New Zealand's entry, New Zealand.
This is not to rule out the possibility of a successful American defense. Defiant, a boat from the America syndicate, was 6-0 overall and 3-0 against Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes in Round 1 of the defender trials. And while Conner, the three-time America's Cup winner, has been bellyaching about his yacht's slow sails, it is possible that he's sandbagging.
There's no place for such skulduggery in the America's Cup. Just ask the members of the crew of New Zealand. They were preparing to launch their yacht on Thursday morning when two Kiwi divers discovered a suspicious frogman with a camera about 15 feet underwater near their dock. Ever protective of their boat's secret keel, the New Zealanders forced the shutterbug to surface by pulling off his face mask and yanking the regulator out of his mouth. They then offered the man a cup of tea while they telephoned police and confiscated the film from his camera. The police refused to arrest him for trespassing because the area was not posted.
The underwater intruder, it turned out, was Amir Pishdad, a U.S. Navy SEAL reservist. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was offered as much as $12,000 by an unnamed syndicate to take underwater photos of its competition. However, when confronted with the accusation that he was a Cup spy, Pishdad denied the charge and said that he was just looking for lobster.
Ambitions on Ice
Herb Brooks doesn't mind coaching in the minors
On Feb. 8, the day the puck is dropped in M�ribel, France, to begin the hockey competition in the Winter Olympics, Herb Brooks will sit down alone for lunch at one of his favorite Italian restaurants in the upstate New York town of Utica. After downing some pasta and coffee, he'll head over to Memorial Auditorium, where that night he'll coach his Utica Devils against the Capital District Islanders. Twelve years after orchestrating the Miracle on Ice at the Lake Placid Olympics, Brooks is mucking it up in the American Hockey League, coaching an inexperienced minor league team. "Opportunities are opportunities," he says. "I've never asked myself, What am I doing here in Utica?"
But what is Herb Brooks doing in Utica? Brooks did interview for the '92 Olympic team coaching job in 1990, but the selection committee decided instead to bring back 1988 coach Dave Peterson (SI, Jan. 27) to coach Team USA. Last summer, Brooks's longtime friend Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the New Jersey Devils, asked him to coach in Utica, where he would develop players, many of them first-year pros, for the NHL.
Last week Bill Guerin, the Devils' first-round pick in 1989, joined the Utica squad. He had been one of the Olympic team's final three cuts. Brooks could relate. In 1960 he was the last man cut from the U.S. team that went on to win the gold medal in Squaw Valley. Brooks remembers the mixed feelings he had watching that 1960 squad win the gold. He also remembers his father telling him afterward, "Looks like they cut the right guy."