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Tuesday 26 September 2023

Exhibition honours the moment Australia II made history

Time flies. It is 40 years today since Australia scored a historic first America's Cup win - in an event it can no longer afford to enter.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is marking the 40th anniversary of Australia II’s historic win by exhibiting Ben Lexcen’s drawings of the famous keel that are in the National Maritime Collection.

The exhibition, entitled Show us the Keel: Winning the America’s Cup in 1983 takes us back to September 1983 when John Bertrand and his crew crossed the line to take the America’s Cup from the US for the first time in its history.

Designer Kexcen named his radical concept of an upside-down keel with winglets ‘Darth Vader’, referring to the all-powerful villain of the Star Wars movies that took cinema by storm in 1977 and 1980.

His drawings chart the progress from a conventional design to the winged profile.

The design challenged the strict formula for designing 12-Metre class racing yachts, known as the America’s Cup Rule.

Australia II and its winged keel was kept literally under wraps before the America’s Cup races off Newport, Rhode Island.

To chants of ‘Show us the keel!’ and a media frenzy about what was hidden under the covers, Australia II and its boxing kangaroo mascot sailed to victory and into the hearts and minds of Australians.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously said: "‘Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum".

Alongside the design drawings, the exhibition includes a range of items associated with the win.

The free exhibition is at Wharf 7, Maritime Heritage Building behind the main museum building in Sydney and is open from 9am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Image: Sally Samins 

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