The Cachet by
depicts the yacht Freedom
skippered by Dennis Conner,
which defended the cup in the 25th competition held in 1980.
The winner of the first cup race
over 14 of Great Britain's fastest sailing yachts in 1851 was the
York Yacht Club's
sources place the number of competitors variously at 14, 15 and 17
- The official America's Cup Web-site states 14). The
America was a 30 meter (100 foot) schooner from New York City. The
cup was originally known as the Hundred Guinea Cup,
but was renamed America's Cup after her victory. The cup was
donated to the New York Yacht Club in 1857 for a perpetual
international challenge competition.
During the twentieth century
the race was held on a triangular 24 mile course from Newport,
Rhode Island to Block Island and back again. In 1987 the San Diego
Yacht club took control of the race for the U.S. and the course
was moved to the West Coast.
American yachts successfully
defended the cup 24 times without a loss for the next 131 years
losing for the first time to the Australian yacht Australia
II in 1983.
Since the 1920s the America's Cup race has been
between one defending vessel and one challenging vessel, the
challenger to be determined in a separate series of elimination
races. Each competing yacht must be designed, built and outfitted
solely by the country that it represents. Until 1995 the Race was
a best four out of seven series. After 1995 it required winning
five out of nine races to win the cup.
When I was growing up in Saunderstown, Rhode
Island, we would take a short trip across the old Jamestown Bridge
to Beavertail Light on Conanicut Island to watch the races. Using
a telescope, we were able to view most of the race on clear days.
The type of sailing yachts in use at that time were of the 12
meter class. I particularly remember the Columbia which
was the first of the 12 meter class to win the cup in 1958 as I
was privileged to go on board her in Mystic, Connecticut. Briggs
Cunningham was the skipper in 1958 and I watched two of
the four races. (Columbia won in 4
straight over Great Britain's Sceptre).
New York Yacht Club Station No. 6 Newport, RI
for a history of the New York Yacht Club.)