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Changes: Fun

tion he owned in Atlanta, Channel 17, on a satellite. There was plenty to write about. That book is Ted Turner, The Man Behind the Mouth (Sail Books/ Norton, Boston). The fact that the next America’s Cup will be contested this summer in Bermuda caused NBC TV to crank up a show about Turner and the summer of ’77 as a lead-up to the 2017 Cup. In the course of their research, the NBC people dug up my book and hunted me down for an interview. One of the first questions from the interviewer was what I remember most about that summer. “Fun,” I said quickly, somewhat to my surprise. Later, when I mulled that answer over, many doors opened. No Cup since 1977 has been as much fun, or even any fun. Turner was the last amateur to win the America’s Cup, and he did it with an amateur crew. In 1980, Dennis Conner reappeared with three boats, three paid crews, and the news that they had sailed 300 days during the previous year. Conner took the Cup professional in 1980, and since then it has become more and more contentious, unpleasant, money- and marketing-driven, and “made for TV.” And less national in terms of crew. Turner’s crew was made up 100% of American sailors. There are three American sailors on Larry Ellison’s 2017 “American” Oracle team that will defend the Cup. To date, only one of them has been on the boat for

Dennis Conner ~ a new kid with another strong personality ~ showed up with an agenda of his own. Right after that inglorious 1973 campaign, Turner quietly bought Courageous, the boat that had won the Cup that summer. That move alone made it seem like a good idea for me to hang around. I convinced a publisher I should do Turner’s biography using the summer of 1977 as a focal point. In addition to his sailing, Turner owned the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Hawks, and, against all his advisors’ pleading, he was about to put the local sta-

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March 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times March 2017