The Annapolis Film Festival will screen Courageous – Defending the 1977 America’s Cup on Saturday, March 24, at 11:45 am in Maryland Hall (801 Chase Street, Annapolis). The documentary is about Ted Turner’s career and personal travails culminating in his underdog win of sailings’ most important race – the America’s Cup. The film is directed by Matt Allen of NBC Films, narrated by Michael Douglas and features the then 27 year old Annapolitan, Gary Jobson, as the boat’s tactician. NBC Film’s Director, Matt Allen, and several members of the crew including Jobson, will be on stage for a Panel Discussion immediately after the 50-minute film. To view the trailer and buy tickets go to www.annapolisfilmfestival.com
As Turner joins the competition to represent the US in the cup finals we see a man accused of being bi-polar, owning a losing baseball team and having wild ideas about creating a worldwide 24-hour TV news channel. Through the lens of those around him at the time, including Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, we see how Turner worked using unconventional techniques to build a winning team from talented amateurs including blasting the musical theme from the 1976 film Rocky every day during the race trials.
“This is on one of the most amazing sports stories in sailing history,” said Gary Jobson, a sailing legend in his own right. “Yet a few years after his surprise win of the America’s Cup Ted starts CNN, the Atlanta Braves are on track to win the World Series and he is lauded as a superb entrepreneur with a Time Magazine cover,” Jobson concluded.
In the spring of 1977, a 37-year-old Ted Turner, was running a struggling, small independent television station in Atlanta. He had recently purchased the Atlanta Braves baseball team, which was losing and in the cellar. Not without sailing experience, Turner had spent his youth racing small sailboats. In 1974 he skippered the 12 Meter Mariner in the America’s Cup Defense Trials but lost almost every race and eventually was dismissed from the boat. Yet, Turner was a brash southerner who attracted a lot attention with his colorful style. He was a visionary who would not quit. He would say, “I am not losing, I am just learning how to win.” Few were convinced.
Turner was back at the helm of Courageous for the 1977 America’s Cup. To reach the Cup Final against an international challenger, Turner had to take on the top two sailmakers in the world, Olympic Gold Medalist Lowell North, and 1974 America’s Cup winning helmsman Ted Hood. Turner, sailing the older Courageous with an unknown
crew, shocked the sailing world by winning the first round of the trials, but soon fell into a slump when his rivals would not sell him any new sails. The situation looked dim.
This fast- paced film shows how Turner and his crew turned things around. The Courageous crew was the last amateur team to win the America’s Cup, the worlds’ oldest sports trophy. Turner’s victory was followed by a string of business innovations that made him one of the worlds’ richest men and among the largest private landowners in the US. Jobson queried, “His Americas Cup victory made him look like a winner. I often wonder if his sailing experience helped him succeed in business, or was it the other way around”?