America which was modeled on the state-of-the-art pilot ships of New York astonished people from the moment she arrived in Europe. Her reversed bow, like a Clipper-ship, her tin plating, and her sails of vertical layers of cotton, laced to the masts, had never been seen before.
Her performance that summer would influence British yacht design for well over 25-years. It was true then as it is today - the America's Cup is an inspiration for designers, builders and sailors, and an opportunity for innovation and excellence like no other.
The America remains a myth. After many problems, she would compete again in 1870, the first 'America's Cup', and the last fleet race in the history of the competition until the Louis Vuitton Acts of the 32nd America's Cup. America would finish in fourth place in 1870, behind Magic, a future Cup winner, but ahead of Cambria, the British Challenger for James Ashbury (which finished eighth).
In 1873, America would become the property of General Benjamin F. Butler, a civil war veteran. He would transform her to the point that, 20 years on, her silhouette would be nothing like the one that made her so famous. The last race for America would be against the schooner Corona on July 27th in 1901. For the following 40 years America would drift from shipyard to shipyard. In March, 1942, a snowstorm would collapse the shed that was sheltering her, and the scraps of wood would later be burned. In 2001, on the 150th anniversary of that first race around the Isle of Wight, a replica of America was on hand, still startling in its beauty and design.
FACT SHEET :
New York Yacht Club
Winner of the One Hundred Guinea Cup, August 22nd 1851, defeating 14 British yachts round the Isle of Wight, in a fleet race organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Owner: Syndicate headed by John Cox Stevens, with Edwin Augustus Stevens, Hamilton Wilkes, George L. Schuyler, Colonel James Alexander Hamilton, John K. Beekam Finlay.
Yacht paid by the syndicate.
Builder: William H. Brown, 12th Street, East River, New York, USA. Sailmaker: R.H. Wilson, New York and Port Jefferson, Long Island. Mast/rig: William H. Brown.
Modeller: George Steers of Great Neck, Long Island and New York.
Launched: May 3rd, 1851.
Skipper & helmsman: Captain Richard " Old Dick " Brown. Afterguard: Horatio Nelson " Nelse " Comstock, mate. Robert Underwood, English pilot aboard, August 22nd 1851. Crew: 14.
Data: Hull material: wood (white oak, locust wood, cedar, chestnut).
LOA: 30,85 m
LWL: 27,39 m
Beam: 6,95 m
Draft: 3,33 m
Sail Area: 498 m2.
Displacement: 170 tons.
Since her launching, May 3rd 1851 until July 27th 1901 - 51 races, 12 wins.
1851, September 1st: sold to Lord John de Blaquière, England.
1856: sold to Viscount Templeton, RYS. Renamed Camilla.
1858: sold to Henry Sotheby Pitcher, England.
1860: sold as Camilla to Henry E. Decie, Royal Western YC.
1860 (Autumn): cruise of West Indies.
1861: arrived Savannah, Georgia, USA. Then returned to Europe.
1861 (December): sold at Jacksonville, Florida, to Confederate States Navy by Decie.
1862: found by Federal Navy, then involved in the civil war.
1870: refitted to sail the first America's Cup challenge.
1870-1873: shoolship at United States Naval Academy
1873: sold to General Benjamin F. Butler
1893: Paul Butler (son of General), owner
1897: Butler Ames, owner.
1917: sold to company headed by Charles H. W. Foster, NYYC.
1921: owned through America Restoration Fund - thanks to E. Jared Bliss - by Naval Academy. America berthed at Annapolis.
1942, March 29: during record Palm Sunday snowstorm, shed over America's hull collapsed.
1945: remnants of America and collapsed shed removed by clamshell crane and burned...
America was often altered, ie. in 1886 by Edward A. Burgess (as designer, he won three times the America's Cup in 1885, 1886 and 1887).
A replica of America, designed by Olin Stephens - Sparkman & Stephens -, was launched May 3rd, 1967 at Goudy & Stevens yard, East Boothbay, Maine, USA.
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