Thursday, September 5, 2013

American Triumphs on the Ocean -- September 5, 2013

The first America's Cup competition took place in 1851 when Commodore John Stevens sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic to take on all comers in yacht racing.  America was designed by George Steers, a famous pilot boat designer.  America won the Royal Yacht Squadron's regatta around the Isle of Wight on 22-August-1851.  America won 100 Pounds and a nice trophy.  The trophy is now known as America's Cup, after the first winner. 

I believe that to "boom out" as Commodore Stevens wanted to do, is to make a flying start.  The Oaks and the Derby are classic British horse races.  Brother Jonathan was an old personification of the United States, like Uncle Sam.  
This article is from the 13-September-1851 Sunbury American


The American yacht America, which went over from New York to England, has proved fleeter than the fleetest vessel, on that side.  The following letter on the subject, under date of London, 19th of August, which we copy from the Philadelphia American, will be read with interest:

England has enjoyed a world-wide fame for her fine squadron of yachts, which the noblemen and gentlemen belonging to different Yacht Clubs have taken a pride in exhibiting at home and abroad. These gentlemen are now enjoying themselves at their clubs at the Isle of Wight, where their annual regattas come off. The last great race of the yachting world will lake place on Friday, the 22nd, and it is open to the clubs of all nations. No less than seventeen of the finest yachts afloat will contend for the prize, a cup of the value of one hundred pounds.

The American yacht America, Commodore J. C. Stevens, has entered as a competitor. The appearance of this beautiful craft off Cowes has caused an extraordinary sensation in the Yacht Clubs, for she has made two oe three short trial trips with a few of the English yachts, and has in every instance ran away from them all!  Last week a few gentlemen were ready to stake hundreds or thousands against her, but since they have witnessed her speed, they have not accepted Mr. Steven's challenge to the Yacht Squadron of the Kingdom, on the plea that Mr. Stevens proposes to start with "at least a six knot breeze," and requests permission to "boom out," which is against the rules of the Royal Yacht Club. Mr. Steven, offered to run his yacht against any yacht, and for any stake up to ten thousand pounds. I believe that up to this date the challenge has not been accepted. Meantime the deepest interest is manifested in the grand Regatta of Friday. Several Americans who had intended to depart for home to-morrow, will remain expressly to witness this race, for it is felt that it is not yacht against yacht, but America against the world. In the absence of political news, the London press takes up this subject in an earnest manner, and have their special correspondents at the Isle of Wight to report everything connected with yachts and yachting.

The Derby or Oaks never attracted more attention or caused greater excitement than the forthcoming regatta. One writer, referring to the race of last Friday at Ryde, says that the squadron of vessels following the yacht, were joined by the "America," and from the manner in which, one by one, she soon distanced them, she satisfactorily proved that the pretensions of Brother Jonathan to superiority was no idle boast; "and the numerous spectators had a most convincing demonstration that her clipper build and fast sailing had not been overrated; in fact, the 'Great American' was the theme of general conversation." Another writer states that the America beat a schooner of 130 tons, with all sail, set, "most shamefully," and she could probably beat all the schooners and cutters of England. The correspondent of the Times, describing the proceedings at Ryde on Friday last, says that the event of the day was the appearance of "the Yankee." She did not show any superiority till she was off Ryde pier, "when she seemed as if she had put a screw into her stern, hoisted her fore and aft foresail, and began 'to fly' through the water. She passed schooners and cutters just as a Derby winner passes the 'ruck,' and as the breeze freshened, slid with the speed of an arrow out toward. the Nab, standing upright as a ramrod under her canvass, while the schooners were staggering under every stitch they could set, and the cutters were heeling over under gaff topsails and balloon jibs."

The America went about "in splendid style, spinning round like a top, and came bowling away toward Cowes as fast, if not faster, than ever. As if to let our best craft see she did not care about them, she went up to each in succession, ran to leeward of every one of them as close as she could, and shot before them in succession, coming to anchor off Ryde at least two miles ahead of any of the craft she had been running against." Having landed Mr. Stevens, she afterwards sailed for Cowes, "and bowled away like a sea gull, leaving all the boatmen and yachtmen with a deep sense that she was 'a tartar.' " The Times entreats the English shipwrights to lay aside the delusion that they are the best builders in the world, and to take a hint "even from an enemy, and follow the models of the Yankees, instead of persisting in their present shape and mould of bow, beam, quarter, and run." The Times states that the anxiety respecting the result of the great race of the 22d, is deep and earnest, and that the course round the Isle of Wight is notoriously most unfair to strangers; and, indeed is not a good race ground to any one, inasmuch as the current and tides render local knowledge of more value than swift sailing and nautical skill.

The advices by the America to 24th August state that the challenge of the American yacht to sail against all the English, was not excepted (sic - JT); and that in the regatta which came off on the 22nd the "America" was triumphant over all competitors.

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