From the start, Bond had no doubt who he would choose to design him a race wining 12-Metre; he had already had a 59- foot ocean racer, Apollo, from Bob Miller, who was at the time in partnership in a sail making business in Sydney with Craig Whitworth. Miller later became Ben Lexcen.
He changed his name to ensure that design commissions would come his way and not go to the company he had founded with Whitworth.
At that time, Miller had definite ideas about the style he should take, but admitted later that he was mistaken. He said: 'I liked the idea of creating a boat with such a beautiful shape that it needed only a small amount of power to make it go. That’s a stupid idea, which stayed with me for far too long. The bestThe best thing you can put on a sailboat, to make it go fast, is a lot of bloody sail. That’s why all my early boats, including Southern Cross, were long, skinny boats with not much rig on them’
Bond and Miller were much the same age and in many other ways alike. Warren Jones, who was later to become the director of Bond’s America’s Cup challenge, described them both as being 'unrestrained by formal education.’
Without that constraint, Miller was able to attack problems in an unconventional way. He was not bound by either formal or artificial rules.
Bond and Miller were together for the 1970 Newport to Bermuda race and they had been working on Apollo at Bob Derecktor’s yard at City Island. Also at City Island was Valiant and, because of her layout, with all the winches and crew below deck level, Bond wanted a closer look.
So he leaned from the pontoon and peered down into the cockpit. Vic Romagna was down in the cockpit and, according to Miller: 'He snapped Bondy’s head off. He said ‘How would you like me to come shove my face in your living room window?’
Well, that really got Bondy mad. He said something like, ‘What is that bloody thing anyway?’ I explained to him that it was a 12-Metre boat, an America’s Cup boat and he asked me, what is the America’s Cup?’
I told him and he said: ‘Right, you design me one of those 12-Metres and we will come back here and win their bloody America’s Cup.’ I didn’t think he was serious, but he was. When we got back to Australia he got his sailing master to ring me up to confirm that he was fair dinkum.'
Having followed his heart in the basic design concept, Miller exacerbated his mistake by using a testing tank at Sydney University, which he admitted later was totally inadequate for the purpose. Southern Cross was a long and heavy displacement yacht, 46 feet 8 inches on the waterline and displacing 27.55 tons. At home, neither of the Gretel’s that Bond had purchased for trial purposes was able to match the Miller designed Southern Cross for speed.
But things became rather different on the water off Rhode Island, as Hardy recalled: 'It was obvious to me while we trialled Gretel II against Southern Cross in Yanchep that there was a problem with the new boat. It was called lack of speed. Gretel II, with her baggy old sails, was giving Southern Cross a run for her money And it became worse in Newport.
Initially, Bond had nominated John Cuneo, the Olympic gold medallist in the Dragon class two years earlier, to be skipper of Southern Cross. He was undoubtedly a brilliant sailor, but had never needed to manage a large-scale crew. When Southern Cross arrived in Newport, Bond, already having second thoughts, announced that there would be a competition between Cuneo and Hardy to be the skipper.
On the day he made his final choice, Bond invited Cuneo into his office and, after a few minutes he came down the stairs and said to Hardy: 'You’ve got the job.'
Hardy said that Cuneo seemed relieved. He knew Southern Cross was not a winner and he preferred not to have his name associated with a loser.
The appointment of Hardy was a popular one with the crew. Hardy was more at ease with them than Cuneo, but a remark of Bond’s put things in perspective as Hardy remembered: 'He told me I was his skipper but ‘I want you to remember one thing, Jim, I once read where Napoleon was losing a lot of battles so he took his most popular general out and shot him in front of his own troops. He wasn’t very popular with his troops but he started winning a few more battles.'
Maritime Production's exhaustive America’s Cup library includes the America3 Foundation Collection of 1992 and 1995 Louis Vuitton & America’s Cup, the exclusive collections of America’s Cup by John Biddle, The Cronkite Report, the Uhl Collection, the archives of the famed Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, at Mystic, Connecticut, as well as films acquired and produced by America’s Cup aficionado Keating, for over 25 years.
All of this material is now available for the first time in full High Definition (HD), most transferred from the original 16mm and 35mm film to HD by Peter Jackson’s state-of-art Park Road post-production laboratory in Wellington, New Zealand. Park Road’s credits include the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy, 'The Hobbit', 'King Kong' and 'District 9'.
Much of this material is part of the huge private America’s Cup collection of Mr. William I. Koch, America’s Cup Hall of Famer, who successfully defended the Auld Mug in 1992 with his ground-breaking IACC yacht, America3. Mr. Koch is lending a part of that unique collection to America’s Cup Events Authority for display in the America’s Cup Park throughout the 2013 America’s Cup event in San Francisco.