The only thing bigger than 96FM in the 80s was this yacht.
Sailing legend John Longley knows exactly where he was when 96FM changed radio forever in Perth.
As a media teacher at North Lake High School, he used the station as a way of making a point.
“I was trying to explain to my media students what an FM radio station was, and I turned on to 96FM and said, ‘see how much clearer that is?’ and they all looked at me like I was nuts.”
At this time, Longley had already been involved in three America’s Cup races, but it was while he was teaching that Alan Bond approached him with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Alan Bond with John Longley (with the beer) after their America's Cup win in 1983.
“Alan Bond asked me if I’d give up teaching and come and work full time on the next challenge,” Longley said.
Yep, Bondy was offering him the chance to sail professionally.
That challenge was to take place in 1983, on a yacht called Australia II.
Of course, the campaign ended in the Aussies bringing home the America’s Cup for the very first time, ending the New York Yacht Club’s 132-year defence of the Cup.
But leading up to the win wasn’t always *ahem* smooth sailing for the team.
So paranoid that the secrets of Australia II could get out, particularly the innovative winged keel, designer Ben Lexcen had a codeword for it while testing it in Holland.
“When Benny was over there that he suddenly realised he was onto something and it was very exciting times,” he said.
“I was on the other end of the Telex’s… and Benny would start to talk about the keel and he’d never refer to it as the keel in case someone broke into the Telex, so it was always ‘Darth Vader’.”
“It was then we realised right then that there was something very, very different.”
“The Force was with us!”
Listen to the full chat up top!