America 1851

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America 1851 Half hull. Designed by George Steers. An America's Cup Legend museum quality half hull.

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Hand-crafted plank-on-frame wood hull with black topsides, red cove stripe . Varnished stained wood hull.

Hull size: 60cm.

Board size: 75cm X20cm


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America 1851

America 1851

At the beginning of 1851, Sir Henry Bulwer, British Ambassador to the United States, saw an incredible boat under construction at William Brown's. On his return to England, he mentioned her to his friends, and the Earl of Wilton, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron wrote to his counterpart at NYYC to invite him to Cowes. Comodore Stevens' reply was clear. Of course he accepted the invitation and declared himself ready to measure his boat  America against the best English boats.

On her arrival at Le Havre, America was joined by John Stevens, his brother Edwin and Colonel James Hamilton. On their visit to Paris, they were warned by the United States Ambassador to Paris, William Rives, and the editor of the "New York Tribune" that the risk of a beating by the English was high, and during the Universal Exhibition period, a defeat would be humiliating for The United States.

At her arrival America was met early in the morning by the brand new Squadron fleet cutter, Laverock. Laverock was obviously spoiling for a race with the Americans! They finally gave in and accepted the invitation to race to Cowes, six miles away. Ashore all eyes were fixed on the two yachts. When the schooner anchored off  The Castel, Laverock was still at third of a mile behind. The energetic John C. Stevens had scored a point for prestige, but had lost all chance of winning money by racing America at Cowes.

At the last minute on August 16th, John C. Stevens entered the schooner  America in the  "RYS £ 100 Cup", open to yachts belonging to clubs of all nations, and which would be held on August 22nd. 1851. 

It was 17.50 when America rounded the Needles lighthouse to the acclaim of the spectators. Half an hour later, no one pursuer had yet pointed her stern round the Needles. There was no doubt as to the outcome of the race, and the steamers headed flat out for Cowes to see the finish, to the astonishment of the spectators waiting on the quaysides. They asked, "Is America first" - "Yes" - "Who is second" - " No-one!".

On the same day, the Squadron commodore, the Earl of Wilton, officially handed over the "RYS £100  Cup" to John Cox Stevens, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club and the owner of America.

A legend was born...

There was a crowd in attendance at the launch of the third America's Cup defender designed and built by the Herreshoff brothers. As ever, the boat has been built in an utmost secrecy, forbidding the access of the yard to every journalists and photographers. This time the defender helm was put in the hands of Charles Barr. This was the first time that the famous Scottish skipper, living in he States for some years , had been entrusted with a defender. Captain Nat  was to be his co-skipper.

As John Brown predicted, Columbia's steel mast broke after the first trials, due to electrolysis. It was replaced by another in Oregon pine for the rest of the trials. The final race was held on October 20th. The struggle was hard and none of the two teams managed to take a decisive advantage till the last mark. The two were now both fighting against the wind. They heeled over impressively, stemposts dipping into the spray and lifting immense cascades of water.Throughout this first windward beat, Archie Hogarth tried all he knew to escape Columbia, who was controlling him mercilessly. Columbia obviously cut better through the choppy sea, whereas Shamrock had to force her way through and tossed violently the Defender flying her mainsail, staysail and jib, performed marvellously and hauled the wind without losing speed, her sais always full. Scarcely 5 minutes after rounding the mark, Columbia had the race in her pocket. Shamrock tacked first after 20 mninutes, followed the Americans. The difference separating the two yachts could now be seen, since, from the same initial point, Columbia was already 1/8 mile to windward of the Irish. Barr decided to slacken off to avoid breakages and to make sure of victory, as he was a quarter of a mile to windward of his pursuer, and won easily.

The American skipper and the defender had fulfilled their contract, with their three crushing victories over Sir Thomas Lipton's yacht. Columbia had no difficulty in beating Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock, designed by Fife Jr III. Before his promise to come back to the following America's Cup, Sir Thomas Lipton paid tribute to his rival: "Mister Herreshoff has shown that he is the greatest yacht designer in the world".


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