KA-5 Australia

1976

Alan Bond teams up Bob Miller (who later becomes Ben Lexcen) with the young Dutch designer Johan Valentijn, who had worked with Sparkman & Stephens notably on Courageous in 1974.

The two men spend seven months experimenting with five 1/9° scale models (2.25 metres) in the University of Delft test tank.

Australia’s design is conventional compared to Southern Cross. It is 3.6 tonnes lighter and has 6 m2 more sail area. It has v-shaped midship sections, a low freeboard, large bustle and a low aft run finishing in a wide u-shaped transom. Its fore overhang is very narrow and round shaped in its lowest part. The cockpits are shallow. Its keel is thin and the ballast placed very low. The elliptical mast is made in extruded aluminum.

1977

Australia is launched in February. It sails off Yanchep, outclassing Southern Cross.

In July, Australia sails trials off Newport with another challenger candidate, Sverige.

The challenger selection semi-finals are raced from August 11. Sverige races against Gretel II and Australia against the ‘old’ France 1, winning four times.

Australia meets Sverige in the challenger selection final trials. Again the Australian boat triumphs four times.

Australia is selected as official challenger for the 1977 America’s Cup.

The America’s Cup

From September 13 to 18, 1977, off Newport, Rhode Island.
Australia races against Courageous n the best of seven series.

America’s Cup course
Olympic Course – total distance: 24.3 nautical miles.
Start: America’s Cup buoy anchored 7 miles, SSE (magnetic) off the Brenton Reef Light Tower. Races shall consist of six legs.
First leg: approximately 4.5 nautical miles, from the starting buoy to windward.
Second leg: from the first mark equidistant from the starting buoy and the first mark at a point on the circumference of a circle the diameter of which is the first leg.
Third leg: from the second mark back to the starting buoy.
Fourth leg: from the starting buoy to the first mark.
Fifth leg: from the first mark to the starting buoy.
Sixth leg: from the starting buoy to the first mark and the finish line.

Results

Courageous beats Australia by four wins to nil

September 13, first race. Wind at start: 225°, 12.5 knots. Wind at finish: 205°, 17 knots. Courageous beats Australia by 1 minute 48 sec.
September 16, second race. Wind at start: 195°, 11 knots. Wind at finish: 160°, 15 knots. Courageous beats Australia by 1 minute 03 sec.
September 17, third race. Wind at start: 238°, 8 knots. Wind at finish: 310°, 8 knots. Courageous beat Australia by 2 minutes 32 sec.
September 18, fourth race. Wind at start: 265°, 14 knots. Wind at finish: 260°, 9 knots. Courageous beat Australia by 2 minutes 25 sec.

In 1977, Courageous defends successfully the America’s Cup for the second time. The American yacht leads the races from the start to the finish, but the difference at the finish is never spectacular: one minute and three seconds minimum to two minutes and 32 seconds maximum.

The difference in speed and gear is not decisive. The Hood sails set on the defender partly contribute to the gap with Australia.

1979 – 1980

Australia is extensively modified by Ben Lexcen – with a longer keel, from which lead is removed and part of which is put into the bottom of the hull. It gets a bigger trim tab, a new, deeper rudder and a modified bustle.

Lexen also designs a new mast, with hydraulically adjustable spreaders to increase or reduce mast torsion depending on the strength of the wind or the sea conditions.

1980

In March, Sir Jim Hardy is appointed as skipper. Australia is shipped to Newport.

The challenger selection trials are sailed off Newport. The semi-finals pair Australia with Sverige and France III with Lionheart. Australia wins by four races to two.

In the challenger finals, Australia races against France III. The French challenger is never a threat to the Australians, who win by four races to nil. Australia becomes the first challenger since 1870 to contest the America’s Cup a second consecutive time.

The America’s Cup

From September 16 to 25, 1980, off Newport, Rhode Island.

Australia
races against Freedom, the 1980 defender in the best of seven series.

America’s Cup course
Olympic Course – total distance: 24.3 nautical miles.
Start: America’s Cup buoy anchored 7.9 nautical miles, 150 degrees (magnetic) from the Brenton Reef Light. Races consisting of six legs.
First leg: approximately 4.5 nautical miles, from the starting buoy to windward.
Second leg: from the first mark equidistant from the starting buoy and the first mark at a point on the circumference of a circle.
Third leg: from the second mark back to the starting buoy.
Fourth leg: from the starting buoy to the first mark.
Fifth leg: from the first mark to the starting buoy.
Sixth leg: from the starting buoy to the first mark and the finish line.

Results

Freedom beats Australia by four wins to one.

September 16, first race. Wind at start: 095°, 10 knots. Wind at finish: 125°, 12 knots. Freedom beats Australia by one minute and 52 seconds.
September 19, second race. Wind at start: 250°, 6 knots. Wind at finish: 245°, 8 knots. Australia beats Freedom by 28 seconds.
September 21, third race. Wind at start: 250°, 12 knots. Wind at finish: 230°, 16 knots. Freedom beats Australia by 53 seconds.
September 23, fourth race. Wind at start: 270°, 12 knots. Wind at finish: 320°, 12 knots. Freedom beats Australia by three minutes 48 seconds.
September 25, fifth race. Wind at start: 115°, 17 knots. Wind at finish: 110°, 14 knots. Freedom beats Australia by three minutes 38 seconds.

Freedom easily wins the 1980 America’s Cup against the ‘old’ Australian challenger Australia (1977) thanks to the two-year campaign professionally organised by Dennis Conner.

1980 – 1983

The British Victory Syndicate own Australia. It is renamed Temeraire and used as the trial horse for Victory ’82 K 21 and Victory’83 K 22 during the 1983 America’s Cup campaign.

1985

The Eastern Australia America’s Cup defence, headed by Syd Fisher, buys the boat and renames it Australia. Its homeport is Sydney. It races as a trial horse for Steak’n’Kidney KA 14, candidate for the defence of the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Western Australia.

1993

Australian yachtsman Syd Fisher again owns Australia. Its homeport is Sydney.

2004

The boat is refitted for charter.

2005

Australia is put up for sale.

2011

Australia is acquired by the Australian 12m Historic Trust.


AUSTRALIA

1977
Sail number: KA 5
International 12-metre rule sloop
AUS

Yacht club (1977): Sun City Yacht Club, Perth, Australia.
Yacht club (1980): Royal Perth Yacht Club, Perth, Western Australia.
Unsuccessful challenger for the 1977 America’s Cup
Unsuccessful challenger for the 1980 America’s Cup

Owner: Alan Bond, America’s Cup Challenge’77 Ltd & West Australian Syndicate’ 80.

International 12-metre rule sloop

Designers: Johan Valentijn and Bob Miller (who later changed his name to Ben Lexcen)
Tank test facilities: Dutch Delft Tank Model Basin
Builder: Steve E. Ward and Brian Raley, at Cottesloe, Perth, Western Australia
Sailmaker: North and Tasker, Australia

Year of building: 1976 – 1977
Launched: February 1977
Home port(1977): Yanchep Sun City, Western Australia
Home port(1980): Perth, Western Australia

Skipper (1977): Noel Robbins
Skipper (1980): Sir James Hardy
Afterguard (1977): David Forbes and Mike Fletcher
Afterguard (1980): John Bertrand as tactician and Jack Baxter as navigator
Crew: 11

Data:

Construction

Hull construction: Aluminum Alloy
Mast construction: Elliptical section, made in extruded aluminum

Dimensions

Length overall (LOA): 19.66 m
Length waterline (LWL): 13.71 m
Beam: 3.73 m
Draft: 2.70 m
Sail area: 162.10 m2
Displacement: 24.850 tonnes
Mast height: 25 m

Year of building 1977
Launched 2/1977
  Edition 24(1980) Edition 23(1977)
Crew 11 11
Hull Aluminium Aluminium
Mast Aluminium Aluminium
L.O.A 19.66 19.66
L.W.L 13.71 13.71
Mast 25 25
Beam 3.73 3.73
Boom
Sail Area
Displacament 24.85 24.85
Draft 2.7 2.7
Rating
Ballast