Document No 5008: Endeavour II and Ranger, The Americas Cup 1937

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AUTEUR : Richard M. Firth

REF : 0

EDITION : 1937

DATE : 1937



Oil on canvas.
Signed. Painted in 2001
Title inscribed by the artist verso on the stretcher.

A Yorkshire artist, Richard Firth is mainly self-taught and began his artistic career by painting vintage cars, with two of his motoring paintings published as limited edition prints. From about 1996 he began painting marine subjects, especially square riggers, and received instruction from Brian May, the well-known marine painter. May introduced Firth to the work of Stephen Dawes and Stephen Renard, and Firth was very impressed - and determined that he could equal these works. At present he produces only eight or nine paintings a year, and is certainly the most promising newcomer to the scene, with the potential to overtake his two mentors. Firth exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery in their Winter Exhibition in 1996.



The building of Endeavour II gets underway on February 1 1936 with the 90- tonne lead ballast-keel cast in its mould. The keel and the frames are fitted up; shell plating is flush-jointed over the entire hull rather than clincher- built and is riveted onto the frames and strapping.

The steel centerboard is passed through a shaft in the lead ballast-keel. When lowered, it increases the draft by about seven feet (2.13m).

The deck plan is relatively open and made of Canadian Pine.

The steel mast is made up of 16 longitudinal, arc-welded bands and weighs less than three tones when complete with rigging. The boom is of the 'Park Avenue' type (triangular section).

In front of the wheels and to starboard of the cockpit is a wind-speed indicator and to port a wind direction indicator. Two water-speed indicators complete the instrumentation.

Tension meters placed in front of the winches measure the settings of the runners.

The building is completed on June 8 and Endeavour II is launched.

Endeavour II takes part in her first race on June 24 off Falmouth, Cornwall and contests the 1936 yachting season in Great Britain.

On July 2 Endeavour II is dismasted off Plymouth, Devon. Velsheda is dismasted too. Endeavour II is dismasted for a second time on August 4 at the start of Cowes Week.

Sail number: J K 6
J Class
Great Britain

Yacht Club: Royal Yacht Squadron
Unsuccessful challenger for the 1937 America's Cup

Owner: Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith

Designer: Charles E. Nicholson.
Engineer: Frank Murdoch
Builder: Camper & Nicholsons, Gosport, England
Sailmaker: Ratsey, Cowes (Isle of Wight) and New York (USA), as well as Prescott Wilson, New York (USA)

Launched: June 8, 1936.

Skipper: T.O.M. Sopwith
Captain: George Williams
Afterguard, Phyllis Sopwith, Sir Ralph Gore (relief helmsman), Frank Murdoch, Jim Scarlett (navigator), Charles E. Nicholson (for the two last races).



Hull: Steel.
Ballast keel: Lead
Frames: Steel
Planking: High-tensile Steel
Deck: Pine
Mast: Steel.
Boom: Wood
Spinnaker boom: Wood


Taken off the official certificate of measurement

Length overall (LOA): 41.40 m
Length waterline (LWL) 36.44 m
Allowed Q.B.L. (Quarter Beam Length): 82.72m
Q.B.L.: 82.80m
Excess Q.B.L.
Penalty: 0.04. L.W.L. + Q.B.L. Penalty = L: 86.80. Displacement (D): 5690.
Limit of 3?D: 17.852. 3?D for formula: 17.852
0.18 (L ?S.A. / 3?D) + Measurement: 76.01 L.W.L. (see rating)
Penalty: none.
Draft: 15.00'. 4.57 m.
Draft Penalty: none
Freeboard Penalty - Limit: 5.54 - Actual: 5.58
Rating: Sloop 76.00.

Length of spinnaker boom: 15.63 m
Mast height: 46.51 m
Mainsail area: 446.24 m2
Foresail triangle: 254.50 m2
Total sail area: 700.74 m2
?S.A.: 86.85

Other dimensions
Taken off the official certificate of measurement

Beam: 6.55m
Boom: 20.60m
Centerboard: 2.13 m
Displacement: 162.6 tonnes
Wetted surface area: 187.3 m2


Endeavour I and Endeavour II cross the Atlantic Ocean to Newport, reaching the United States at the end of May. During their sailing trials, both yachts are linked by radio.

1937 America's Cup

July 31, first race: Endeavour II is beaten by Ranger by 17 minutes and five seconds over a 30-nautical mile windward-leeward course.
August 2, second race: Endeavour II is beaten by Ranger by 18 minutes and 32 seconds over a 30-nautical mile triangular course.
August 4, third race: Endeavour II is beaten by Ranger by four minutes and 27 seconds over a windward-leeward course.
August 5, fourth race: Endeavour II is beaten by Ranger by three minutes and 26 seconds over a triangular course.


Ranger raced thirty-seven times in all, and only two boats ever crossed the finish line ahead of her, Yankee twice, and Endeavour once.

After the America's Cup, Ranger raced thirteen times finishing first twelve times and second once (behind Yankee). In eleven of these races five boats competed (Ranger, Yankee, Endeavour I, Endeavour II & Rainbow). After a time, the other 'J-Class' boats accepted that a win by Ranger was more or less a foregone conclusion and that a second-place finish, for which there was always a grand struggle, came to be regarded as a win."

This was Harold "Mike" Vanderbilt's description of the "Super J" Ranger during its unique sailing season in 1937.

Fired up by the mediocre performances of Rainbow against Endeavour in 1934, when the Cup was nearly snatched from the Americans, two years later "Mike" Vanderbilt created the first design team in the history of the America's Cup. He recruited the 59-year old W. Starling Burgess, to work with a young Olin J. Stephens, aged 29 (of the firm Sparkman and Stephens), on the Ranger project.

The boat was the fruit of the labours of not just Burgess and Stephens, but Ranger also relied on contributions from Professor Kenneth S.M. Davidson (tank testing at the Stevens Institute of Technology), Roderick Stephens (rigging), the sail-designer Prescott Wilson (who had the sails cut from synthetic rayon), and Pete Newell of the Bath Iron Works who was able to build the boat (flush-riveted plating, then welded) in little more than four months of construction work.

If the 'J-Class' boats of the thirties symbolised the use of technology pioneered in the aviation industry transferred to America's Cup boats, then Ranger was among the best examples. It was the first time that a boat of its size had the mast, boom, and spinnaker pole made entirely of aluminium. Made by the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) of Pittsburgh, the elliptical mast weighed 2 718 kilograms. The ellipse measured 56 centimetres in length and 40 centimetres in width. It was made from aluminium plates that were 7.31 metres long and riveted together using standard techniques. The front and rear pieces were 12.5 mm thick and the side pieces 11.1 mm.

The boom was built the same way and the spinnaker booms, located on the foredeck, were each 15.24 metres long and weighed 136 kilograms. The technological mastery continued with the sails. For the first time a synthetic material, rayon, was used for the quadrangular jib and some deck portholes were made in translucent Bakelite...everything possible was explored to make the future Defender a true winner.

Harold S. Vanderbilt explained that Ranger behaved differently than all the other J-Class boats that he had helmed. Although quicker than the others, Ranger was slow to tack as she had more inertia holding her way longer, hence the need to steer harder to help tack. However, the fact that the yacht picked up speed very quickly compensated for this failing. When sailing close to the wind or on a reach, the boat seemed to dig in to the water, and then shoot off. This phenomenon allowed the hull to use the whole of its waterline to express to the fullest the boat's potential for speed. When sailing close-hauled and with its centerboard down, Ranger offered exceptional stability. In combination, these advances explain the astonishing performance of Ranger, the "Super J".


Autorisation en cours
Divers 2750 1640