zur Navigation


Happy Waitangi Day  Feb 5, 21:21

Today marks the 167th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, in 1840. Happy Waitangi Day to all of Kiwi colleagues, families and friends.

4, 14, 15, 17?  Jan 27, 12:08

q-a1This week we have been helping to prepare team brochures and other documentation for the upcoming AC 32 events here in VLC. In the various drafts, the number of British vessels said to have been bested by the schooner America in that fateful race on 22 August 1851 ranged from 4 to 17!

We checked Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia and a source we often quote, which reports:

The schooner-yacht America, owned by a syndicate that represented the New York Yacht Club, raced 15 yachts representing the Royal Yacht Squadron around the Isle of Wight. America won by 20 minutes.

As you will see below, Wikipedia (and hence the highly regarded is wrong both about the number of British vessels America beat, and her margin of victory.

Historically, the confusion appears to stem from differences in the number of yachts that entered the race, the number that actually started, and the number that were given finishing times by the Royal Yacht Squadron -- whether or not other yachts also completed the course but too late to have had their time taken.

In an effort to get the facts korrekt and end the confusion once and for all, this week your Ed. emailed two old friends widely recognized as experts on Cup history: the esteemed American author and historian, and longtime NYYC member, John Rousmaniere; and the popular British yachting author, commentator and raconteur, still regarded by most as the dean of the AC press corps, R. Percival Fisher.

These learned gentleman from either side of the Atlantic usually, but not always, see eye to eye on Cup matters. Happily, on this question we find mutual agreement, as both say that their investigations over the years confirm:

Entries: 18
Starters: 15
Did Not Start (DNS): 3
Finishers: 5

Fish reports that his recent research (for an upcoming AC historical tome) shows that of the 18 entires, on race day there was one "no-show" and two did not otherwise start. Bob reports the finishers and finishing times as:

America, 20:37
Aurora, 20:45
Bacchante, 21:30
Eclipse, 21:45
Brilliant, 01:20 (23 August)

A couple evenings ago I ran all this by Alinghi's Hamish Ross, another keen student of Cup history with a book currently in the works, and AC Regatta Director and former NYYC Commodore Dyer Jones. They concurred with John and Bob, and added that it really doesn't matter how many yachts finished or when -- a yacht "beats" the number of starters, not the number of entries or finishers.

As to the few number of finishers, Hamish said his research shows that several of the starters were so far behind that they were still on the south side of the Isle of Wight when the tide turned (back from the west), and some chose to retire rather than continue to sail against the tide late into the night.

v45087_31Apparently, then, the other 10 were not timed either because the race committee had stood down sometime after Brilliant finished at 01:20 on the 23rd, or they did not complete the course. Those details, not relevant to the question at hand, seem to have been lost in the fog of passing time.

Finally, the number of 15 starters is confirmed by the venerable Royal Yacht Squadron. Relevant excerpts from their excellent website:

The RYS Minutes of 9 May 1851 record the decision to hold a race on Friday 22nd August, during the club's Regatta, which would be open to yachts of clubs of all nations. This first such race was arranged so that America could take part if she came to England. Squadron races were normally open only to their own yachts....18 yachts entered; 15 raced. Fernande, a 127 schooner built by William Camper at Gosport and owned by Major Francis Mountjoy Martyn, did not take her station in the two lines of yachts off the harbour entrance. Stella, a 39 ton cutter built by George & James Inman at Lymington in 1851 and owned by Richard Frankland Esq, and Titania, built by Robinson and Russell at Millwall in 1850, took their stations but did not start....Brilliant [finished] at 1.20 am, by which time the fireworks and the dinner were over. Any yachts finishing later were not recorded.

See the RYS website for a concise, and presumably precise, history of the events of 1851.

Therefore, once and for all we should be able to agree -- and in future always report -- that, on 22 August 1851, 15 yachts started, and the winner, America, beat the other 14.

[And can someone please get Wikipedia to fix their AC article? We note the ACM site has it right, but that the America-Cubed site, among many others, does not.]

The race started from anchor in Cowes (top, center) at 10:00 on 22 August 1851. The yachts raced clockwise around the Isle of Wight -– some 53* miles -- and finished (at least the five that were recorded) that night back at Cowes.

*though, it should be noted, the NYYC Yearbooks in the 1980's and prior years state that the race course was 58 miles. But we'll let someone else sort out that one!

Sailing Generations  Jan 7, 13:27

Hard to believe it was 28 years ago that I first met Chris Dickson. We came to know each other when Dicko, in his mid-teens, appeared on the world sailing scene at the IRYU (now ISAF) World Youth Sailing Championships -- as did a number of other current, top sailors including Russell Coutts, Charlie McKee and our teammate and aero coordinator JB Braun (USA). This was in the late 70's and early 80's. At these events I was coaching the USA team and, later, serving on the jury.

Dicko was winning. In fact, he won an unprecedented (and unmatched since) three world youth sailing titles. At the time the doublehanded Youth Worlds was raced primarily in the International 420 Class. Indeed, Dicko won two of his Youth Worlds titles in the 420, and a third in the Laser II.

This morning, one hears, Dicko showed up in the dinghy park at the Takapuna Boating Club on Auckland's north shore, host of the 2007 420 Class World Championship, to have a look around and chat with some of the 232 young sailors competing.

A generation after he was winning similar youth events, Dicko has a couple children of his own, and is in his fifth AC campaign, this time as skipper and CEO. How many of these kids racing in Takapuna this week aspire to someday participate in the AC in any capacity? You can bet just about all of them. And nice to see Chris, now quite the sailing celeb, going back to his roots and spending some time with these up and coming sailors.

Photos below courtesy of's Richard Gladwell.

Dicko chatting with some of the sailors before today's racing in the 420 World Championship near Auckland. Standing on Chris's left is longtime champion sailor, coach, organizer and international judge Ralph Roberts (NZL).

This morning, rigging up in the dinghy park next to the Takapuna Boating Club, is the current World Champion team (and regatta leaders) of Carl Evans (left) and Peter Burling (NZL both). Will they be in the next generation of America's Cup sailors? Regatta results here.

Gonzo, But Not Forgotten  Nov 9, 07:32

148432From a review today in the Miami New Times about Ralph Steadman's new book called "The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me" (some title!), which chronicles Steadman's exploits with the late Hunter S. Thompson in the 1970's....

One of the book's most memorable chapters chronicles the pair covering the 1970 America's Cup for Scanlan's Monthly before the publication went belly-up. Steadman calls the experience a dress rehearsal for the seminal drawings he later contributed to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Thompson had rented a boat, where the twosome stayed with a rock band during the week-long event, and Steadman, inspired by his first encounter with pot, wailed nonstop on a set of bongos, attracting crowds and annoying his partner.

Near the end of their stay, without a story to file and having heard from their editors that the magazine was folding, Steadman asked Thompson for one of the little pills the writer had been popping all week.

Thompson handed over one of the hallucinogens. Steadman ate it and then asked, "What happens now?"

"Nothing," Thompson replied, "for about an hour. Then you may feel a little weird."

Before the night was over, the duo tried to spray-paint "f*ck the pope" on a million-dollar racing yacht and nearly got nabbed by security. To distract the guards during their getaway, Thompson fired a flare, which landed on a nearby boat, nearly setting it ablaze.

Fearing arrest, Thompson later ditched a shoeless and incoherent Steadman at the airport.

The barefoot, broke, and blathering artist was rescued by a friend. A doctor was summoned, and he tranquilized Steadman with a shot of Librium.

Full story

And you thought the Cup was tame in the era of "Ficker is Quicker"? Perhaps Dyer Jones or Dick Enersen can fill us in on the exploits in Newport that year of Messrs Thompson and Steadman. While we are sure they were not involved, one hears they do have recollections.

Certainly today's Cup is more, er, calm and professional, save for one or two members of other teams who might be deserving of a "Hunter S Thompson Award" for their acts at certain Acts.

120 Years Ago Today  Sep 12, 23:20

deadline6On 12 September 1886 the NYYC successfully defended the America's Cup for the sixth time ("AC 6") when their yacht Mayflower defeated Britain’s Galatea in the second match of their first-to-win-two series. Mayflower's first win had come five days earlier on 7 September.

Mayflower was 100' and had a broad beam and shallow draft that was referred to as a "skimming dish."

Mayflower was designed by Edward Burgess who had also designed Puritan which had successfully defended the Cup the previous year against Britain's Genesta, 2-0. A Burgess yacht also won again in 1887 when his Volunteer defeated the Scottish entry Thistle 2-0.

According to historian A.J. Peluso, "In September 1886 newspapers ran breathless accounts of the latest America's Cup challenge. Like all others, before and after, they were high-stakes yacht races: America against the Empire. The challenge and the positive patriotic results became validating symbols of national pride, pride in which all could partake, whatever one's 'station'.... Galatea's loser-owner Lieutenant William Henn (Royal Navy, retired) and his wife were unbowed. They stayed in America for a year, entertained by the gracious winners."

N.B. Running the America's Cup in successive years is not without precedent.

Mayflower (foreground) defeating Galatea on 7 September 1886 in the first of their two AC 6 matches, in an etching by Currier & Ives.

155 Years Ago Today  Aug 22, 08:10

PosterIt all began on 22 August 1851. The schooner yacht America defeated Aurora and 13 others of the Royal Yacht Squadron fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England.

For their efforts the syndicate of New York Yacht Club members was awarded a bottomless pitcher ("ewer" to be more precise), 27 inches tall and crafted of 134 ounces of silver plate in 1848 by the crown jewellers, Garrard of London. The trophy was bought "off-the-shelf" -- it was not unique nor purchased for the occasion -- by Lord Anglesey, who donated it to the Royal Yacht Squadron.

To great acclaim, the syndicate returned with the Cup (and the tidy sum of $25,000 for which they sold America before leaving England) to pre-civil war USA. In 1852, 44 years before the French aristocrat Pierre, baron de Coubertin staged the first modern Olympic Games (1896), America syndicate members drafted a "Deed of Gift" donating the trophy to the New York Yacht Club "upon the conditions that it shall be preserved as a perpetual Challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries" -- a radical idea in those days.

Fisher31Our longtime friend Bob Fisher (GBR), widely regarded as the dean of the Cup journalists (he wouldn't disagree), is writing an exhaustive book on the Cup's history. Bob said in a recent email:

The original Deed of Gift of the America's Cup was handwritten by George Schuyler to the NYYC on May 15th 1852. The date was subsequently altered (in the same hand) to July 8th 1857, the date it was accepted by the club. The original is safely kept under temperature and humidity controlled conditions in the "Rare Books and Archives Room" in the Library of the New York Yacht Club at 37 West 44th Street, Manhattan.

Others have reported that during mid-1850s the trophy languished in a syndicate member's closet; at one point they apparently considered melting it down to make medallions for the syndicate.

Finally, in 1857 the Deed was done. However, it was not until 1870 (after the American civil war) that the first challenge came from the Royal Thames YC (GBR) and James Ashbury with his yacht Cambria. By then the trophy was known popularly as "The America's Cup" -- notwithstanding the trophy bears the inscription "Hundred Guinea Cup."

jr-smallJohn Rousmaniere (USA), yachting writer/historian and an esteemed NYYC member, shed further light on all this in a recent email:

The cup was originally called the Hundred Pound Cup because that's what it cost, but was sometimes called the Hundred Guinea Cup.

In the Royal Yacht Squadron the cup was nothing special, just an ordinary trophy on the shelf that had a familiar design and had cost 100 pounds. So it was referred to as "the £100 Cup"
[witness the RYS poster from 1851, above]. As another indication of the trophy's ordinary status, since a pound at that time was also called a sovereign, people also casually referred to it as "the Hundred Sovereign Cup."

Whoever set out to inscribe the original name on the trophy, probably the Americans, got their guineas mixed up with their pounds -- neither the first nor the last to do so -- which is why the name inscribed on it is "Hundred Guinea Cup."

The original name was a functional one, not an honorific like "Queen's Cup," which was how it was first called after coming to America. NYYC founding Commodore and syndicate member John Cox Stevens was the first but not the last Cup notable with a touch of grandiosity, and he liked to tell people that Queen Victoria had personally handed the trophy to him. When the American press and the NYYC eventually settled on "the America Cup" and, later, "the America's Cup," they returned to a functional name.

Needless to say, 22 August 1851 turned out to be an important day for the sport of yacht racing, indeed for international sport. No doubt the Cup's historical significance is a large part of why today, 155 years later, so many us here in Valencia, and around the world, are pursuing it with such passion.

The "£100 Cup" on which is inscribed "Hundred Guinea Cup," for a time referred to as the "Queen's Cup," that came to be known, popularly in the press, as the "America Cup" and, finally, the "America's Cup."

The America's Cup today, with the two base sections added in 1958 and 2003 for more inscription space, in front of its modern-day Louis Vuitton case. The cup is engraved with the names of all the yachts that raced America in 1851, with the exception (strangely) of the runner-up Aurora, and with the name of every yacht since 1851 that has raced in an America's Cup Match (finals).

P.S. We posted a few other tidbits on this subject this afternoon over on the Challenger Commission Blog, including a photo of the Cups in China earlier this year that some of you may enjoy.

Demise of America  Jul 20, 08:10

[UPDATE, 19:55 CET Thu: After an interesting day of emails back and forth with two longtime friends -- John Rousmaniere, preeminent Cup historian and author; and Tom Leweck, founder and editor of Scuttlebutt -- look for a guest editorial by John to lead tomorrow's 'Butt, which the BOB will pick up and, with any luck, amplify.]

The yacht, not the nation. We see this issue debated in books and articles from time to time. This morning Scuttlebutt (North America) published a letter that is consistent with our understanding of what took place in the final years of the yacht America -- for which, as you will know, the oldest trophy in international sports is named:

* From Dave Gendell, Editor, SpinSheet Magazine: (Further clarification on the sad death of the original Schooner AMERICA) In October 1921, Charles Francis Adams presented the restored America to the Naval Academy on behalf of the Eastern YC. She was accepted by the Academy's superintendent for a nominal purchase price of one dollar. Sadly, there was no preservation fund or program and she was left to rot in her slip on the Severn River.

In late 1940 she was hauled, some say at the direct request of FDR, in Eastport, at the Annapolis Yacht Yard (the Trumpys would not arrive on the scene until 1947). A proper restoration effort began but was rudely interrupted by the events of December 7, 1941. On March 29, 1942, a makeshift shed over her hull collapsed under the weight of snow from a freak spring storm. She was damaged beyond repair.

Throughout the war years, souvenir hunters picked over her remains. AMERICA was finally broken up and her remains hauled away over the winter of 1945-46. Bits of her are scattered throughout the yachting world and a hunk sits on my desk as I type this note. But those holding such pieces, present company included, should bear in mind the words of an old time Annapolis salt: "If you put all the supposed bits of AMERICA together you could build three schooners...."

Annapolis is also the home of Farr Yacht Design, which firm provides a number of the members of our design team -- notably Bruce Farr and his colleagues Brian Baker, Mat Bird, Alon Finkelstein, Dave Fornaro and Britt Ward. When we have a meeting in Annapolis we often make our way to the Charthouse, a popular restaurant with local sailors. What was the Annapolis Yacht Yard (later Trumpy's) where America met her demise in 1942, is today, our FYD colleagues tell us, the Chart House parking lot.

By the way, the Cup had its longest hiatus during those war years, with no defense held between 1937 and 1958. The "modern era" began in '58 with the introduction of the 12-Metre class. Since then, counting AC 32 next year, fully half -- 16 -- of the total number of defenses will have taken place: '58, '62', '64, '67, '70, '74, '77, '80, '83, '87, '88, '92, '95, '00, '03, '07. We must be doing something right; it seems likely Commodore Stevens, George Schuyler and the other members of the America syndicate would be pleased with all their yacht hath wrought, despite it's ignoble demise.

A restored yacht America berthed in the Severn River at Annapolis in this
photo taken 25 Sep 1940, courtesy of the Charles W. Cushman Photograph
, Indiana University Archives / Digital Library Program. (Amazing
color slide/photo from 66 years ago; looks better than the next photo from
five years ago.)

The latest replica of the schooner yacht America, under full sail off
Newport, RI on 6 Sep 2001 -- five days before the fateful events in NYC and
elsewhere in the USA now simply known as "9/11". The replica above was
built in 1995.

The 1995 replica is now a tourist and corporate charter boat in San
Diego, seen here in a recent photo greeting the USS Ronald Reagan
off Point Loma. An earlier replica was built in 1967, is in Europe, and is
expected in Valencia at some point during AC 32.

14 Juillet  Jul 14, 07:45

To our teammates Julien Cressant, Laurent Esquier, Michel Kemerac, Bert Pace, and our other colleagues and friends of the French persuasion (especially LV's Christine Belanger and Bruno Trouble), our best wishes on the occasion of your Fête Nationale or national holiday.

Commonly known, at least in English, as Bastille Day, it commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison on 14 July 1789. The Fête de la Fédération was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern French "nation", and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. [Source: and Wikipedia]

So, today put the World Cup behind you. Vive La France!

(Someday you have to tell us what makes M. Zidane tick.)

And with proof-reading thanks to Pierre Orphanidis, the hybrid if not well-bred (says he 50% Gaulic) webmaster of the popular Valencia Sailing blog.

Claude Monet's Rue Montorgueil immortalised
the June 1878 celebration in Paris organized
to honour the Republic. Legislation passed
in 1880 made 14 July the official, national
holiday. By then, three defenses of the
America's Cup had taken place.

Spring Chicken  Jun 26, 08:49

Today Grand Prix motor racing is celebrating its centennial. The first official race was held near Le Mans, France, on 26 June 1906. The starting field of 32 cars raced over a 64-mile course; eleven cars remained after 12 laps, split over two days. The winner was Ferenc Szisz, driving a 90hp Renault. Szisz was able to save time changing tires: Michelin had created detachable rims for his car, and it took only 2-3 minutes to change a tire, rather than the usual 15 minutes. Talk about high tech!

While we are on the subject, check out the bio of the youngest-ever Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (1841-1914). A newspaper publisher (founder of what today is the International Herald Tribune) and sports enthusiast, Commodore Bennett played a signifcant role in the early days of motorsport as well.

Of course, by 1906 the America's Cup had been in existence for 55 years. In addition to the original 1851 race around the Isle of Wight there had been 12 defenses.

So happy birthday to GP motor racing, a relative spring chicken vis-à-vis the America's Cup -- the oldest trophy in international sports.

Crew of the yacht Reliance, the largest sloop ever built. In 1903, at the
dawn of GP motorsport, Reliance won the 12th defense of the America's
Cup against Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock III.

Lipton: First Global Yachting Brand?  Jun 18, 10:53

Laurence Brady's biography of Sir Thomas Lipton will be published by Birlinn in 2007. In the meantime, he has penned a piece for The Scotsman, Scotland's national newspaper, that also appears today on their website. Interesting perspective, and historical take, on brand-promotions and the America's Cup:

Sun 18 Jun 2006

Global yachting brands set up for challenge that was buoyed by Lipton's tea

TWELVE teams from 10 countries are striving for superiority in one of the most daunting sporting challenges. It takes four years of hard-fought competition to triumph, and to make things harder for upstarts, the trophy-holders automatically qualify for the final - and have the right to defend the prize on waters of their choice.

In the 12th Louis Vuitton 'Act', running from June 22 to July 3, sailing teams will be watched live by thousands of spectators, and more than 80 television channels will broadcast their endeavours. New team entrants from China and South Africa will be set alongside more familiar competitors from New Zealand, Europe and the United States, each on budgets ranging from £30m to £65m.

The prolonged battle features mono-hull, 24-metre super-yachts weighing 24 tonnes with single masts 32 metres high, and the multinational sponsors benefit from at least three years of brand exposure, not to say opportunities for corporate hospitality.

The Swiss yacht, Alinghi, representing the Société Nautique de Genève Yacht Club, spoiled the party in Auckland three years ago by destroying the defenders, Team New Zealand, with five straight race wins, setting the stage for the first European defence of the America's Cup.

That defence was not confined to one location in the early stages, the showcase of yachting talent taking in Marseilles in France, Malmö in Sweden and Trapani on Sicily before centring on Alinghi's chosen port of defence, Valencia in Spain. Landlocked Switzerland was obviously not an option.

The America's Cup remained in American hands, at the New York Yacht Club, for the first 132 years of its 155-year history. When the schooner America crossed the Atlantic in 1851 and triumphed over the cream of British yachts, the gauntlet was thrown down. Until 1958, challengers aiming to reclaim America's Cup had to sail across the Atlantic and to take on the lightweight, sleek defender of the New York YC.

Challenges were not inevitably the preserve of the British aristocracy. Between 1899 and 1930, it fell to a grocer from Glasgow, whose name became synonymous with tea - and who developed into a global entrepreneur - to mount five challenges. In the America's Cup, Sir Thomas Lipton's name is a byword for sportsmanship.

Lipton was ahead of his time in spotting the opportunity to link his name and business to an international sporting event. And his peerless diplomacy and sportsmanship, win or lose, guaranteed many inches of favourable press coverage on both sides of the Atlantic.

In today's brand-and-sport-conscious global society, figures such as Ernesto Bertarelli, a pharmaceutical millionaire and head of the Alinghi syndicate, and Larry Ellison, who leads the BMW Oracle syndicate, are seeking to emulate Lipton's determination - and to win the cup.

The grand prize that eluded Lipton was eventually wrested from the Americans in 1983 by a syndicate led by the Australian entrepreneur, Alan Bond.

The 32nd America's Cup will reach its climax in June 2007 when the challenger with the most points accumulated from years of competition and a final victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup, will emerge to face Alinghi in the best of nine races.

Ellison's formidable BMW Oracle team, Emirates Team New Zealand and the Italian Luna Rossa stand out from the rest as the most likely contenders for the ultimate challenge. By the end of Louis Vuitton Act 11 in May, the three had established a gap of more than 30 points between them and the fourth-placed Desafio Español.

No overall British challenge is being mounted on this occasion, but individuals are involved. World-class British yachtsmen such as Ben Ainslie, the triple Olympic medallist, Ian Moore and Ian Percy have key roles to play in the respective challenges of Emirates Team New Zealand and +39, one of three Italian entries.

Whatever the outcome, there is no doubting the spectacular impact that the initial European America's Cup has brought to bear on the public, the media, the corporate sponsors and, not least, to the hitherto industrial port of Valencia.

Given Britain's unique contribution to the foundation of this sporting phenomenon, and the legacy of eminent men such as Sir Thomas Lipton, it is hoped that a new British challenge - for the 33rd America's Cup - will take shape in the months ahead.

Lipton was ahead of his time in spotting
the opportunity to link his name and busi-
ness to an international sporting event.