Monday, December 01, 2008

Urban Legend

A story included in Scuttlebutt 2731 described how Ted Turner, upon winning the 1977 America’s Cup, arrived at his victory press conference, and after have accepted an astonishing variety of alcoholic beverages since reaching the dock, slid blissfully beneath the table as the world watched. Hmm, not so says Dick Enersen, who was there filming the whole thing for his documentary film, "The Best Defense," now available on DVD. Recalls Dick:

“Ted was, indeed, pretty snockered, but he didn't pass out, or slide blissfully anywhere. The facts of the matter are these: Having won the fourth straight race over AUSTRALIA, and therefore defending the Cup, COURAGEOUS picked up her tow and headed for Bannister's Wharf. A small boat, full of Swedes, came alongside and passed up a six pack of beer and a bottle of aquavit to the happy US26 crew. A great deal of celebration and consumption of spirits took place at the dock, including all the crew, and many supporters, taking a dip in the harbor.

“The press conference took place later, a little way down Thames Street. Ted entered, with Gary Jobson and his crew, carrying what was left of the aquavit and another bottle, which I think was Jim Beam. Ted took his seat next to Bill Ficker, the moderator of the conference, and put the bottles on the table in front of him. Bill, the victorious skipper of INTREPID in 1970 and a stalwart bastion of decorum reached over and removed the booze, placing the bottles under the table. Ted, without skipping a beat, reached down and retrieved the bottles, returning them to the table. Bill repeated the removal, and so forth. The "slid under the table" legend is simply an exaggeration of the hide and seek game with the hooch.

“At any rate, Ted made some remarks, including, "I'm glad to be alive...," and left under his own power, albeit with the help of his shipmates. I decided to leave the press conference out of the movie, ending it, instead, with Ted hurling himself off the transom of COURAGEOUS, wildly waving the ensign.”

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At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Gary Jobson said...

I was there sitting next to Ted, and Bill Ficker. A guy who worked for Ted named Sid Pike actually took the ONE bottle of aquivit off the table, at which point Ted went seaching for it. After about five questions, we carried Ted out on our shoulders. It was a classic moment. - Gary Jobson

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Dawn Riley said...

It was an awesome visual that I can't stop smiling when I picture it. Have to love the characters in our sport! :-)

At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can remember film footage, possibly by John Biddle, of that event.
My memory is that Turner disappeared under the table, the others looked down, and Turner lifted the table skirt with an obviously drunken smile with bottle in hand.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger M'sieu Auger said...

I love this story: how do I get a copy of Dick's doc?

Barry Auger

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Andy Rose said...

Noel Robins, Alan Bond and I had arrived before Ted and crew and were already sitting at the dais for the press conference. I had a bottle of Heineken on the table (we had also joined the Courageous celebration) and Alan suggested for decorum purposes that I hide it below the table which I did. Once Ted and Gary arrived and put on the show exactly as Dick and Gary describe, I turned to Alan and asked if I could retrieve my bottle noting that, "I don't think anyone is watching us now!" Needless to say, I finished my Heineken. - Andy Rose

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Martin Tasker said...

I wish I could have found Dick Enerson’s footage ten years ago. It was mysteriously missing from all the archives I searched at the time.

I’d interviewed Ted Turner at the Newport Maritime Museum ahead of the first Team New Zealand defence and I wanted to juxtapose his famous press conference antics with those of Peter Blake in San Diego in 1995. Visibly glowing Blake sat down at the table with Russell Coutts, both soaked in Moet after receiving the Cup. It was rapidly evident that not all the celebratory champagne had merely been sprayed…

Question to Blake (from Dave Philips, Providence Journal?): ”First of all, can you tell us in the absence of the commodore what challenges the Royal New Zealand (Yacht Squadron) has received up until now?”

Blake: “Ah…I can’t at the moment I am sorry Dave… I’m not really fit to tell you anything right now…” (Audience collapses with laughter)

I asked Turner what he remembered about his celebrations: “Not much,” was the terse reply. But he was much more forthcoming when I asked him what the biggest thrill of his life was? Said Turner, “I think the most thrilling thing that ever happens... for any guy anyway…is making love the first time, right? I never was in a sailboat race that was that much fun.” - Martin Tasker, Television New Zealand

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Chip Croft said...

When they were interviewing Ted recently about his new book a couple of the networks showed a clip of him in the Cup and a shot of him sliding under the table.


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