Dutchman claims role in Australian history

15th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch yacht designer said he and his team members played a major part in designing the yacht that helped win the America’s Cup in 1983.

Wageningen – An unexpected announcement that a Dutch team and not an Australia one designed the revolutionary winged keel that led to Australia’s historic victory in the 1983 America’s cup has stirred up much controversy.

Dutch yacht designer Peter van Oossanen said Australian Ben Lexcen only played a minor part in designing the winning yacht’s revolutionary winged keel.

Instead, it was a Dutch team headed by Van Oossanen himself and Dutch aerodynamicist Joop Slooff who designed the fast keel.

The keel helped the yacht Australia II to capture the America’s Cup, after it had been in United States hands for 132 years.

From his home in Wageningen, Van Oossanen told The Sydney Morning Herald that Lexcen “played only a ‘minor’ role, contributing perhaps 5 or 10 per cent”.

The US has long suspected that the Australians were not behind the revolutionary design, but could find no proof.

 If Mr Van Oossanen was telling the truth, according to the regulations back then, Australia should have been disqualified.

The Dutchman says he has kept quiet all this time “out of love for Australia”. But because his role has been systematically marginalized, the yacht designer decided it was time to reveal ‘the truth’.

He stressed he remained close friends with Lexcen until his death in 1988, and regarded him as a “true Australian hero”.

Australia II’s skipper, John Bertrand, rejected the claims. He said Australian yacht builders were designing winged keels as far back as the 1950s.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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