Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sir Thomas Lipton Again Fails to "Lift" the America's Cup -- September 10, 2013

British yachtsman Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of the tea company, tried to win the America's Cup five times between 1899 and 1930, always with a boat named Shamrock.  He never won, but he was widely respected for his sportsmanship.  This article about his second challenge in 1901 is from the 05-October-1901 San Francisco Call.  The winning defender was the sloop Columbia, which had also won the previous challenge.  

NEW. YORK, Oct. 4.— With victory flags floating from her towering masthead and the ends of her spreaders in honor of her concluding triumph in the cup races of 1901, the gallant sloop Columbia returned to her anchorage to-night under the escort of the entire excursion fleet. She to-day completed her defense of the honored trophy in another stirring race with the Shamrock II over a leeward, and windward race of thirty miles, crossing the finish line two seconds behind her antagonist, but winning on the time allowance conceded,. by the Lipton boat by forty-one seconds.

For the second time she has now successfully foiled the attempt of the Irish knight to wrest from her possession the cup that means the yachting supremacy of the world. And plucky Sir Thomas Lipton, standing on the bridge of the Erin, led his guests in three hearty huzzas for the successful defender.

"She Is the Better Boat." 

"She is the better boat," he said, "and she deserves to be cheered."

The series of races just closed will always be memorable as the closest ever sailed for the cup, and Sir Thomas, although defeated, will go home with the satisfaction of knowing that his golden yacht is the ablest foreign boat that ever crossed the western ocean.

During this series of races not an untoward incident has occurred, and Sir Thomas will return to England far the most popular of all the foreigners who have challenged for the America's trophy.

To-day's race, on paper, was the closest of the series, but because of the flukiness of the wind on the beat home, as a contest of the relative merits of. the yachts, it is not to be compared with the magnificent, truly run and royally fought battles on Saturday and yesterday. The conditions of the race at the start to-day were very similar to those of yesterday.  The wind was strong, and from the shore embroidering the sea with foam and  piling up no swell -- ideal conditions for the challenger.

Every Inch of Canvas Spread.

 The racers were sent away before the wind, each carrying penalty for crossing the line after the handicap gun. No official record is kept of the time after that gun is fired, but the experts wlth stop watches estimated the Columbia's handicap at fifteen seconds and the Shamrock's at .thirty seconds. The contest of the yachts, fleeing before the wind was picturesque but not exciting. The big racers, like gulls with outstretched pinions, had every inch of canvas spread, all their light sails, including bulging spinnakers and balloon jib topsails. Their crews were gathered aft to keep the heads of. the boats up, and thereafter until the outer mark was reached it was merely a question of holding onto all the canvas and letting the wind do the rest.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Columbia beat the Shamrock before the wind last Saturday, the challenger to-day, gained, slowly, but steadily all, the way out and rounded forty-nine seconds before the defender, havirig actually gained one minute and- four seconds. Immediately after, the yachts turned. their noses into the wind for the beat home the breeze moderated and turned fluky. The skippers split tacks, each searching for wind, with the result that first one would get a life and then the other. At one-time the Columbia seemed a mile ahead when a sudden cant of the wind allowed the Shamrock to point nearer, the mark and a mile from home the challenger appeared to be leading by fully half a mile. The talent began to feel nervous, but as the yachts approached the finish the Yankee skipper by some miraculous legerdemain shoved his boat into the light air, like a phantom ship and 100 yards from home the two racers were almost on even terms.  It was a pretty sight and one seldom witnessed when they crossed rail to rail, the white yacht's bowsprit just lapping
the golden boat's mast.

Pandemonium Follows.

The usual pandemonium that attends the final Yankee victory in a cup contest followed. Whistles, sirens, bells, bands and cheers united in a grand chorus of jubilation, and J. P. Morgan's yacht Corsair added to .the terrific din by firing a national salute of twenty-one guns.

After the Columbia had hauled down her sails and set her victory flag the excursion boats crowded alongside to cheer the Yankee sailors and the winning skipper. Nor did they forget Sir Thomas Lipton or his gallant craft. In turn the crowded steamers ran alongside the Shamrock and Erin and the vanquished received almost as much honor as the victor. And thus, with felicitations all around, the twelve series of races for the old cup which the schooner America brought over fifty years ago ended with the best of feeling.

Taking his defeat gamely, Sir Thomas Lipton yet made no attempt to conceal the keenest disappointment when he talked about the races to-night on the Erin.

Sir Thomas' Disappointment.

"I am very much disappointed." he said.  "I thought that within fifteen minutes of the finish that we had won. I was as sure as my life we had won. When I looked around the situation had changed and we had lost. It was a hard blow to be so near winning and then to lose. I should like to have got one race, just by way of consolation. It is a very hard thing to be beaten by a breath— by a few beats of the pulse. It has been a severe strain on me. I have worked so hard for many months now and I am glad it is over. To have won would have been a joy greater than to-day's disappointment.  The Columbia's win to-day was fair and square and honorable. There is nothing to protest if I wanted to protest. In fact, I have a feeling in my heart that if there had been any error in judgment at all it would have been in my favor. If there had been any possibility of choice in the matter I believe the yacht club would have given me the race. Sometimes a man has the better boat, but even having it must have a wee bit of luck to win. I am very grieved indeed, very grieved, and," he added. "I should have liked to have won one race."

Hardly had the Erin's anchors touched bottom when a launch from the yacht Corsair came alongside bearing the regatta committee of the New York Yacht Club. Sir Thomas met them at the head of the gangway and as he shook hands with them individually he said:

"Gentlemen, it was a lair beat. I want to say again that you have treated me with the utmost fairness and courtesy.  You have met every wish of mine, and from my heart I thank you."

Lipton a True Sportsman. 

Commodore Lewis Cass Ledyard, chairman of the New York Yacht Club regatta committee, replied:

"Sir, we have never had a truer sportsman to deal with."

Many of Sir Thomas' guests on board the Erin crowded around. to express their sympathy at his defeat and assured him of the high place he had won in the hearts of all Americans.

"When a. man wins a heart he has won more than a cup," said one of them. There were tears in the Irish Baronet's eyes when he thanked them for their kind words. Said he:

"The words you have spoken touch me more than my defeat to-day. I tried to win the cup and I have done my best.  But better than all that. I have the good wishes of this country."

When asked about his plans for the future Sir Thomas said:

"It is too early to talk about any plans. About the Shamrock I cannot decide yet what I shall do and as to challenging again, it is too soon to think about it."

E. D. .Morgan, the manager of the Columbia, said:

"I am very happy that we won and glad that the strain is over. We certainly had to make a splendid fight for it. We had a splendid captain and a splendid crew."

The Columbia's mainsail was unbent before she came to anchor and soon after dark she was towed to City Island. Before leaving Captain Barr said:

"We did the best we could and they did the best they could and we came out first. That's all."

At the New York Yacht Club to-night Chairman Kane and Secretary Oddie were closely questioned by members regarding the sensational finish. Kane said he had difficulty in timing, the yachts, but was fortunate in sighting them at the proper range. The range was from a small white flag on the committee boat and the mainmast of the Sandy Hook lightship.  Chester Griswold, of the regatta club held the watch that timed the yachts.

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