“Untold: The Race Of The Century” presents the fascinating story of how an Australian yacht crew dared to compete and end America’s 132-year dominance in prestigious America’s Cup yachting competition. The documentary, which is also ‘Untold’ the last show of the season, interviews the crew who achieved this near impossible feat and fondly remembers their efforts and ultimate triumph. As always with “Untold” documentaries, “Race of the Century” is a neatly packaged piece for any sports fan or even a lover of underdog stories. Now, know about Untold: The Race Of The Century movie.
Untold: The Race Of The Century: Movie Synopsis
America’s Cup is essentially a prestigious tournament in yachting sports and is also the oldest international sporting competition that is still going on. From its inception in 1851 until 1983, the United States, represented by the New York Yacht Club, won the competition unassisted twenty-four times, making it the longest undefeated streak in any modern sport.
The format of the competition pits the previous winner as the defending champion against another team representing the country in which the yacht was designed and built, posing as a challenger and trying to win the trophy. The challenger team must also first compete in a tournament against the other participating countries and win it to qualify for the finals and face the defending champions. The final race series has a total of 7 races, with the team winning 4 races and being the first to win America’s Cup.
However, for 132 years, the trophy was won by the American team every time, and the silverware became an unofficial home at the headquarters of the New York Yacht Club. Such was the Americans’ confidence and high expectations of their team that it was widely believed that the first captain to lose America’s Cup to any other team would also lose his head with it, figuratively speaking at least. While many other countries have participated in the finals over the years, none could break the streak until John Bertrand captained his side in 1983 and achieved the unthinkable.
John Bertrand recalls the first time he watched, or rather heard, America’s Cup on the radio in 1962 and recognized the excitement surrounding the famous tournament. As John gradually learned to sail, the idea of becoming a boat captain and competing in America’s Cup became his only real goal. After completing his initial education in Australia, John moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree at MIT.
It was during his engineering and aviation studies that he first believed he could actually achieve his dream. John Bertrand first competed as part of the yacht crew representing Australia in the 1974 America’s Cup. The USA swept the series 4-0 that year and in 1977 as well. He was also part of the Australian team in the 1980 tournament, in which the Americans again successfully defended the trophy.
For all these three years, distinguished sailor Dennis Conner was part of the American team and also captained its team in the 1980 America’s Cup. John Bertrand was well enough aware of the skills Conner possessed, and his interest in captaining the Australian team in 1983 was probably prompted by his bitter rival. However, in order to build a ship and a team worthy of the tournament, a lot of money was needed.
Since the sport of sailing and yachting is essentially an activity for the rich, as the design and construction of a boat require quite a lot of capital, the Australian side found a wealthy investor in successful businessman Alan Bond. Although Alan Bond already had a reputation for taking risks and gambling, the Australian yachting side was happy to accept support from 1974.
In 1981, the American side began to prepare the team members physically and mentally for the next America’s Cup and also began to build their ship called “Liberty”. Since it has always been a matter of pride for the US government to have won the championship for so many years, the government’s Weapons Research Center and the Department of Defense provided support for the construction of the defense ship. On the other hand, Alan Bond hired a man named Ben Lexcen to design and build a boat for the Australian competitors. “Untold: The Race Of The Century.”
Ben Lexcen was a somewhat unusual talent, considered by many to be a genius for his exceptional expertise in his field, despite having very little formal training in the subject. Ben was working at the renowned Netherlands Ship Model Basin at the time and tried to innovate some methods to make his boats faster, and it was for America’s Cup that he came up with the idea of a winged keel that was literally designed the other way around. to the normal keels on racing yachts of the time.
The design was finally brought to fruition when the ship was built and named “Australia II”. When John Bertrand and his team arrived in Newport, Rhode Island for the 1983 competition, they carefully kept their winged keel hidden under plastic sails whenever the boat was in port.
As the first round of the tournament began between the various countries trying to reach the finals, Australia II proved to be far beyond any competition and the hidden keel was soon the talk of the town. Ben Lexcen even cheekily handed out hand-drawn fake keel diagrams to throw opponents the wrong way, and in the end, the Australia II crew won the tournament with a brilliant win.
Team USA and the Liberty were next in sight for John Bertrand and his men as they now hoped to end the home team’s streak. They didn’t expect the Americans to try to bring them down in any way possible, and that soon showed. The New York Yacht Club filed an official complaint about the Australian’s secret keel, claiming it was made by people of various nationalities, not just Ben Lexcen. The whole matter was investigated by a committee that was known to have Lexcen’s connection with the Netherlands.
Some Dutch engineers on site said the Americans even tried to force them to sign a document claiming they built the ship for Lexcen. None of the cheap tricks worked and the commission reported that they found nothing wrong with the Australia II ship or how it was built. The final runs came and both teams started the battle with equal determination to win, but the Australians suffered a massive setback. In the first two races of the series, Australia II suffered mechanical failures and Liberty took both victories without a fight. “Untold: The Race Of The Century.”
While the US media began touting their team’s clear victory, Australia II won the third race by the largest margin of victory of any challenging team. The fourth race turned the fortunes around again, with the Liberty winning and leading the series 3-1. Bob Hawke, the former prime minister of Australia, directly addressed the rival team on a news show, telling them how proud he and his compatriots were of their fight in American waters. John says that was perhaps the biggest motivation they could have received at the time.
In the next two races, Australia II defeated Liberty and surprisingly brought the tie back to a 3-3 draw. Everything hinged on the final race and many Australians flew to Rhode Island to show their team support. The seventh race became the race of the century for sailing lovers as it had intense drama throughout.
The Liberty took the lead in the opening stages and even put Australia II well behind, but US captain Dennis Conner may have had too much faith in their victory. Although he ended up making a crucial mistake, the Australian team showed great ability to catch up and then overtake Liberty. At the end of the race, it was Australia II who won the day as well as the championship, becoming the first country other than the United States of America to win America’s Cup. “Untold: The Race Of The Century.”
The Race Of The Century Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End?
John Bertrand and his team were hailed as heroes as Australians across the planet celebrated their victory. Prime Minister Bob Hawke was also part of the celebrations and also played in a public interview with the documentary team shortly before he died in 2019. As the shrouds were lifted over the winged keel of Australia II, the genius of Ben Lexcen was recognized all around. Sadly, Lexcen died just four years after winning America’s Cup.
At that time, the Australian team was welcomed home by a celebratory parade stretching almost twenty-two kilometers. Quite surprisingly, John Bertrand retired from yacht racing after the victory and did not make it to Australia’s defense of the trophy in the following year’s tournament. Investor Alan Bond became a very successful businessman after winning but eventually pleaded guilty to numerous financial crimes in 1997.
On the other side, however, all was not so good as defeated skipper Dennis Conner was shunned by the New York Yacht Club. He found himself in such financial straits that the experienced man had to work as a carpet salesman for several years. However, he came out of retirement a few years later and returned to the sport to captain his country in the 1987 America’s Cup, which the USA won again.
The documentary ends with a triumphant reminder of Ben Lexcen’s unique design, which literally shaped the future of the sport, and shows glimpses of the build-up to the 2021 America’s Cup, the latest edition of the esteemed and historic tournament. “Untold: The Race Of The Century.”
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