They're Off Down Under

It has been three years since Businessman Alan Bond and his Australia II broke the 132-year U.S. hold on the America's Cup and put it in a bulletproof glass case in the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Barely a month after that defeat, the first Americans showed up in Perth, followed since by yachtsmen from five other nations, all of them plotting how to wrest the Cup from the Aussies. Last week the joust began.

A record 13 challenging 12-meter yachts--hulls gleaming, sails taut and design breakthroughs as secret as possible--launched a series of up to 255 heats off Fremantle, Perth's port...

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