John Bertrand (Australian sailor)

John Edwin Bertrand (born 20 December 1946 in Melbourne, Victoria ) is a yachtsman from Australia, who led the 12-Metre yacht Australia II skipper in 1983 for the first victory over the Americans in the 25th America's Cup. He finished with this victory, a 132 -year-long winning streak of the Americans, which is unprecedented in sports history.


John Bertrand sailed since his early teens and quickly became a national dinghy champion. Sir James Hardy therefore invited him in 1970 as a sail trimmer on his challenger yacht Gretel II in the 21st America 's Cup. He participated in two Olympic Games for Australia, reached the unfortunate fourth place in difficult wind conditions in Kiel in 1972 and then won in 1976 at the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal (Canada) on Lake Ontario the bronze medal in the one-man boat class Finn - dinghy.

After his first (of four) America's Cup challenges studied Bertrand shipbuilding construction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Jerry Milgram, who taught him not only fluid mechanics, but also the tactical dinghy sailing. In the MIT Sailing Club and in Marblehead Bertrand discovered the intricacies of match racing and the U.S. Jollensegelns. He met Robbie Doyle, who brought him to the entry into the Finn dinghy class. He learns very quickly. In his first start in 1971 at the " Gold Cup " in Toronto, he was eighth in a borrowed MIT Finn, second next year.

After the Olympic Games in Kiel, he helped with his knowledge of the diploma at MIT yacht designer Ben Lexcen which to develop the design of the Australian challenger yacht Southern Cross. After that he vowed never again to participate in the America's Cup. He went to Peter Barrett after Pewaukee (Wisconsin ) to learn the sailmakers craft. He also worked together with Olaf and Peter Harken to the development of the first Finns of the brand Vanguard (today: Harken, Inc.).

He is a member of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne ( Australia) and is currently participating in regattas of the Etchells class.

25th America's Cup in 1983

John Bertrand controlled the designed by Ben Lexcen challenger yacht ( challenger ) Australia II with the revolutionary and kept secret until the end of the regatta series wing keel. The yacht had with the new keel, which corresponded to the regulations, a significantly higher base speed against Skippered by Dennis Conner U.S. defender yacht ( defender ) Liberty. In addition, Australia II was higher in the Wind (direct against the wind ) and sailing they could turn or rotate faster, since they had no traditional long keel. The Australia II belonged to the Australian businessman Alan Bond, who after three unsuccessful attempts, now took up in 1983 for the fourth time.

The regatta series got through the media a nationwide importance, despite the marginal sport sailing. And cut for four wins in seven races regatta off Newport (Rhode Iceland ) was after a quick initial success of Liberty with changing guides finally by the team Australia II in the decisive sixth race with a lead of 1 minute and 21 seconds to 3: balanced 3.

The Americans realized that their winning streak could break after 132 years. The major newspapers reported on the America 's Cup on the first pages and called the Ragatta The Race of the Century ( The Race of the Century ). Never before had so far in the history of the America 's Cup six or seven races to determine the winner. In the last race John Bertrand was then hit with his young team the American Dennis Conner with Liberty after a hard fight with 47 Apply by 41 seconds.

When handing over the trophy there was a delay because craftsmen first had to unscrew the jug from its pedestal which screwed into the club building of the New York Yacht Club abyss. They had can not imagine losing that trophy times.

Winning the America's Cup by an Australian team boosted the sport of sailing Down Under immensely and let the AC syndicates in New Zealand undertake new efforts now to win the Cup as well.

Following its success in the America's Cup John Bertrand wrote the book Born to Win, in which he described the races off Newport and laid bare his strategies during the preparations for the regatta series, as he managed to make a young team with little chance of victory winners.

Life today

John Bertrand is now Chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and The Allanah and Madeline Foundation, named after Allanah & Madeline Mikac who were murdered in the massacre at Port Arthur.


  • 26 January 1984: Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services in sailing, especially as helmsman of the winning yacht Australia II in the 25th America's Cup competition in 1983
  • September 18, 1993: Member of the America's Cup Hall of Fame for outstanding performance in the context of the America 's Cup
  • July 14, 2000: Australian Sports Medal for outstanding achievements in the America's Cup
  • January 1, 2001: Century - medal ( Centenary Medal ) for service to Australian society through the sport of sailing