To Koch, Melges is the best


SAN DIEGO -- After the final race of the 28th America's Cup, America3 syndicate head Bill Koch and helmsman Buddy Melges again sat together at the podium during a news conference.

At previous post-race gatherings, a popular line of questioning has dealt with America3 sailing against the two skippers Koch rated as one and two in the world.

Melges was never mentioned as either -- until last evening.

"I didn't want to tell Buddy this, because I didn't want to blow too much smoke at him," Koch said when asked again who is the best sailor in the world. "But I think he is one of the best if not the best sailor in the world."

Melges, who won a gold medal in the Soling Class at the 1972 Olympics, is the only man to have won a gold and an America's Cup.

"I tell you what, it is a great thrill to win either an Olympic gold medal or an America's Cup," Melges said.

"I don't think this one has sunk in yet, maybe it will have by tomorrow morning.

"But I know that in Kiel, Germany, in 1972, when they played the Star-Spangled Banner and the flag went up, I knew that I had something to do with that, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck."

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