AUSTRALIA II 31
Few yacht design innovations are both radical and immediate in their improvement. Australia II, the 12-metre that became the first yacht ever to wrest the America’s Cup from its American defender, was such an innovation. Australia II defeated Dennis Conner’s Liberty in 1983 despite repeated efforts by the New York Yacht Club to prove its illegality (and attempts by the Australian team to keep it secret). Lexcen had turned to aeronautical engineering techniques. When heeled over his innovative winged keel gave Australia II increased lift and a lowered centre of gravity for a significant upwind advantage. Winged keels remained a feature of the America’s Cup – and were also prevalent in many more mainstream designs for a period – until the last IACC class races in 2007.