John Bertrand (AUS)

Australia's America's Cup winning skipper

There may be two sailors with the name John Bertrand in Sailing World's Hall of Fame, but only one brought the New York YC to its knees, ending the longest winning streak in sport. Bertrand (b. 1946), born near Melbourne, Australia, started out sailing Sabot prams on Port Philip Bay's Chelsea YC. "I just enjoyed watching the bubbles go past the gunnel," he says. But he soon flourished as a club racer and was a national dinghy champion when Sir James Hardy invited him to trim aboard Gretel II.After his first (of four) America's Cup challenges, Bertrand studied Naval Architecture at MIT under Jerry Milgram, "a brilliant, crazy man," says Bertrand. The professor not only introduced him to advanced flow theory, but also to tactical dinghy sailing. "At the MIT sailing club and in Marblehead," says Bertrand, "I discovered the intense joys of match racing and North American dinghy sailing." He also met Robbie Doyle, who got him into the Finn and the '71 Gold Cup in Toronto. Bertrand finished eighth of 110 in a borrowed MIT boat and finished second the next year. But at the '72 Olympics in Kiel, Germany, in fickle winds he met disappointment. "I won the leather medal, fourth place," he says.Bertrand then put his MIT degree to work, helping Ben Lexcen design Southern Cross. "Afterwards I swore I'd never do another Cup," he says, and went to Pewaukee, Wisc., to learn sailmaking from Peter Barrett. He also worked with Olaf and Peter Harken to develop Vanguard's first Finn. "Buddy Melges," he says, "was most influential in terms of pure sailing," but he credits his mentors for showing a "boy from Chelsea how the world worked."Bertrand won a bronze in '76 behind Jochen Schuemann, and says he realized afterwards that the difference between gold and bronze was "what was between the ears-the mental state." He says in the Cup, seven years later, "at 3-1 down, the consequences of winning or losing were huge, and I remembered how cool Schuemann. That was fundamental to coming back from the abyss."Although he got out of sailing for 10 years, the Etchells class lured Bertrand back and he's continuing his old ways of winning; at one point he was ranked No. 2 in the world. Bertrand also co-founded Quokka Sports, which set early standards for web coverage of sailing and other events. Sailing World conducted an interview with John Bertrand shortly after his induction into the Hall of Fame-to read, click here