America 1851 The Challenge and The Race

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  1. 1851 America's Cup
  2. Sailing Newport RI | America's Cup History | 12 Meter Charters
  3. Citation Information

The newly founded New York Yacht Club was challenged by the Royal Yacht Squadron, then the most prestigious yacht club in the world, to take part in The Solent Races, sailing races that took place on the body of water between the Isle of Wight and Great Britain. Answering this challenge, the New York Yacht Club assembled a team to cross the Atlantic and race with their contender, the yacht America.

The schooner America was designed and built by George Steers in at the urging of the New York Yacht Club to build a fast sailboat. When the starting gun was fired at ten in the morning on August 22, , the America was the last over the starting line. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article.

Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Area unitary council, 2, square miles 6, square km. The Universal Rule, adopted in in the United States and later internationally, retained length and sail area as….

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Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. Edit Mode. America's Cup. The iron sloop Mischief 79 tons, design by Archibald Cary Smith was chosen from four sloop candidates, and successfully defended the cup. In response to the unsuccessful Canadian challenges, the Deed of Gift was amended in to require that challenges be accepted only from yacht clubs on the sea.

The Deed was further amended to provide that challenger yachts must sail to the venue on their own hull. Irish yacht designer John Beavor-Webb launched the challengers Genesta and Galatea , which would define the British "plank-on-edge" design of a heavy, deep and narrow-keel hull, making for very stiff yachts ideal for the British breeze.

This design paradigm proved ideal for the light Yankee airs. In , Edward Burgess repeated his success with the Volunteer against Scottish yacht designer George Lennox Watson 's challenger Thistle , which was built in secret. Even when the Thistle was drydocked in New York before the races, her hull was draped to protect the secret of her lines, which borrowed from American design. Both Volunteer and Thistle were completely unfurnished below decks to save weight. In , the NYYC adopted the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club 's rating rule, in which Bristol, RI naval architect Nathanael Herreshoff found loopholes that he would use to make dramatic improvements in yacht design and to shape the America's Cup's largest and most extreme contenders.

Both Herreshoff and Watson proceeded to merge Yankee sloop design and British cutter design to make very deep S-shape fin-keeled hulls. Using steel, tobin bronze, aluminium, and even nickel for novel construction, they significantly lengthened bow and stern overhangs, further extending the sailing waterline as their boats heeled over, thus increasing their speed. In a cup-crazed Britain, its four largest cutters ever were being built, including Watson's Valkyrie II for Dunraven's challenge.

Meanwhile, the NYYC's wealthiest members ordered two cup candidates from Herreshoff, and two more from Boston yacht designers. Charles Oliver Iselin , who was running the syndicate behind one of the Herreshoff designs called Vigilant , gave the naval architect leave to design the yacht entirely as he willed. Herreshoff helmed Vigilant himself and beat all his rivals in selection trials, and defended the cup successfully from Valkyrie II. The Watson designed challenger Valkyrie III received many innovations: She would be wider than the defender, and featured the first steel mast. This saved 17 tons of displacement, but later subjected the boat to extreme electrolysis after the Cup races.

Valkyrie III lost the first race, was deemed disqualified in the second race following a collision with Defender before the start line despite finishing first, and in turn withdrew from the contest. The unraveling of the races left Dunraven in a bitter disagreement with all parties over fairness of the cup committee concerning claims.

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After he asserted that he had been cheated, his honorary membership of the NYYC was revoked. At age 58, Hank Haff was the oldest cup winner in the history of the race. William Fife was chosen to design the challenging yacht because of past success in American waters. The latter had helmed Fife designs [26] in Yankee waters before, and he had shown perfect coordination with his hand-picked Scandinavian crew. Barr successfully helmed Columbia to victory, and Lipton's noted fair play provided unprecedented popular appeal to the sport and to his tea brand. Although upset with the Shamrock , Lipton challenged again in , turning this time to George Lennox Watson for a "cup-lifter": Shamrock II , Watson's fourth and final challenger, was the first cup contender to be thoroughly tank-tested.

To defend the Cup, businessman Thomas W. Lawson funded for Boston designer Bowdoin B. Crowninshield a daring project: his yacht Independence was capable of unrivaled performance because of her extremely long sailing waterline, but she was largely overpowered and unbalanced and suffered from structural issues. Lipton persisted in a third challenge in With the aim to fend off Lipton's challenges indefinitely, the NYYC garnered a huge budget for a single cup contender, whose design would be commissioned to Herreshoff again.

Improving on the Independence and his previous designs, the new defender Reliance remains the largest race sloop ever built. She featured a ballasted rudder, dual-speed winches below decks, and a cork-decked aluminium topside that hid running rigging. The design focus on balance was exemplary, but the extreme yacht also required the skills of an excellent skipper, which defaulted choice options to Charlie Barr. Despite the immense success of the Reliance , she was used only one season, her design and maintenance keeping her from being used for any other purpose than for a cup defense.

The extremity of both cup contenders encouraged Nathanael Herreshoff to make boats more wholesome and durable by devising a new rule. Proposing in the same year the Universal Rule , he added the elements of overall length and displacement into the rating, to the benefit of heavy, voluminous hulls and also divided boats into classes, without handicapping sail area.

Lipton long pleaded for a smaller size of yachts in the new rule, and the NYYC conceded to seventy-five footers in Lipton turned to Charles Ernest Nicholson for his fourth challenge, and got a superb design under the inauspicious shape of Shamrock IV , with a flat transom. Barr had died, but his crew manned the Resolute , which faced stiff competition from Vanitie , but went on to win the selection trials, before the Cup was suspended as World War I broke out.

The Vagrant arrived on the 8th. Having no radio, the crew remained unaware of the declaration of war. Finding all navigational markers missing, the Vagrant crew attempted to pick their own way in through the barrier reef. David's Battery fired a warning shot to bring them to a halt.

Shamrock IV and Erin arrived the next day. The America's Cup was cancelled for that year. The Shamrock IV and Erin proceeded to New York, from where the Erin returned to Britain while Shamrock IV was laid up in the Erie Basin dry dock until , when she received some adjustments to her build and ballast, just before the races were held. Despite Shamrock IV ' s severe rating, she took the first two races from the defender Resolute , and came closer to winning back the Cup than any previous challenger.

1851 America's Cup

The Resolute won every subsequent race of the event. Shamrock IV was never raced again, but the universal rule drew significant appeal, especially in the small M-Class.


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Believing that the new rule offered a serious opportunity for the British to take the Cup, Lipton challenged for the fifth and last time at age 79, in The J-Class was chosen for the contest, to which were added Lloyds ' A1 scantling rules in order to ensure that the yachts would be seaworthy and evenly matched, given the Deed of Gift requirement for yachts to sail to the match on their "own bottom.

Novel rigging technology now permitted the Bermuda rig to replace the gaff rig. Meanwhile, Herreshoff's son, L. Francis Herreshoff , designed a radical boat: The Whirlwind , despite being the most advanced boat with her double-ended "canoe" build and electronic instruments, maneuvered too clumsily.

The old footers Resolute and Vanitie were rebuilt and converted to the J-Class to serve as trial horses. The Enterprise ' s skipper Harold Vanderbilt won the selection trials with great difficulty. When Shamrock V was revealed, she was an outdated wooden boat with a wooden mast and performed poorly to windward. Lipton died in , and English aviation industrialist Sir Thomas Sopwith bought Shamrock V with the intent of preparing the next challenge. To Nicholson's skills, he added aeronautical expertise and materials that would intensify the rivalry into a technological race.

Endeavour received significant innovations, but Sopwith failed to secure the services of his entire Shamrock V professional crew due to a pay strike. He hired amateurs to complete his team, and while the Endeavour was described unanimously as the faster boat in the Cup, taking the first two races, failed tactics and crew inexperience lost her the following four races to Vanderbilt's new defender Rainbow.

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Sailing Newport RI | America's Cup History | 12 Meter Charters

To challenge again, Sopwith prepared himself a year early. In , Nicholson designed and built the Endeavour II to the maximum waterline length allowed, and numerous updates to the rig made her even faster than her predecessor. A change in the America's Cup rules now allowed a contending yacht to be declared 30 days before the races, so both the Endeavour and Endeavour II were shipped to Newport, where the RYS held selection series before declaring Endeavour II as the challenger.

Meanwhile, Harold S. Vanderbilt, taking all syndicate defense costs to himself, commissioned Starling Burgess and the young designer Olin Stephens to provide designs. They anonymously produced three designs each, and thoroughly tank-tested boat models of the six designs, until model C was selected for its projected performance in light airs. The resulting defender Ranger was even more accomplished than her challenger, and Vanderbilt steered his last J-Class boat to a straight victory.

Citation Information

The J-class yachts from the s remained the default for the cup, but post-war economic realities meant that no-one could afford to challenge in this hugely expensive class. As twenty years had passed since the last challenge, the NYYC looked for a cheaper alternative in order to restart interest in the cup.


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The first post-war challenge was in , again from the British. In , another Australian challenger, Dame Pattie , lost to the innovative Olin Stephens design Intrepid which won again in , to become the second yacht, after Columbia of , to defend the Cup twice. For the America's Cup, interest in challenging was so high that the NYYC allowed the Challenger of Record the original yacht club presenting the challenge accepted for the match to organize a regatta among multiple challengers with the winner being substituted as challenger and going on to the cup match.

This innovation has been used ever since, except for the default deed of gift matches in and Alan Bond , an Australian businessman, made three unsuccessful challenges between and In the cup was successfully defended by Courageous , which successfully defended again in , at which time she was skippered by Ted Turner.