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THE FOURTH RACE - OCT. 21, 1871

Category: 1871 : CHALLENGE N°2

04785V4Livonia Again Beaten - Sappho Wins Easily

The fourth of the series of matches was fixed for the 21st on the early morning of which day the committee-boat Seth Low, with the judges on board, left the foot of Desbrosses street at 7h 30m a.m. and steaming down found the Columbia lying at anchor off Staten Island.

As the wind was light, the committee decided that it would never do to leave her there, as she might be needed for the day's work. So she was taken in tow and carried out to the starting point of the light-ship She was not needed however, as the committee were so well pleased with the appearance of the Sappho as she sailed out to the light-ship with the Livonia, that they chose her for the struggle of the day. That it was a wise choice no one who saw the race can deny, for although the Dauntless or Columbia might either of them have beaten the Livonia, it is not probable that either of them could have beaten her so badly as she was beaten by the Sappho.05209S There was only one excursion boat out, the Magenta, but she was crowded with passengers, showing the great interest taken in these races by the public, and certainly none who did go will ever regret it, as a prettier sight cannot be imagined than was presented by the two boats contesting and the fleet of noble vessels that accompanied them. The following is a detailed account of the race.

At daylight the weather was perfectly clear with very light airs from the north east. At the anchorage at Staten Island lay the yachts Sappho, Dauntless, Columbia, Enchantress, and Magic. Soon after daylight the Sappho and Dauntless got their anchors and started down towards the Narrows. At 7h 30m the Livonia got her anchor and went down after the other two. The wind was all ways, In the Narrows the Sappho and Dauntless had it from the northward, the Livonia had it from north-west, while the Dreadnaught was bringing from the city a fine breeze from the eastward. This proved the better wind, and as the vessels caught it in turn they settled in line, the Dauntless leading through the Narrows, Sappho next, Livonia and the Dreadnaught side by side. In the light wind the Dreadnaught drew ahead of the Livonia, which became the hindermost yacht. So the yachts went down through the Swash Channel. At 9h 30m the three leading boats tacked to the eastward; the Livonia however, stood on some distance farther and tacked on their weather quarter heading the tide, which now just made flood, while the other yachts had it on their weather bow.

This little race out to the lightship, although not on the day's program, was interesting, as each yacht was doing her best, and it was excellent test of their relative speed in light weather. After the three leading yachts got round on the starboard tack, the superiority of the Dreadnaught became apparent, she passing along through the lee of the Dauntless and Sappho, and ranging on ahead of them. Meanwhile the Livonia had been doing an excellent business. Hugging the point of the Hook, she passed out to windward of the whole fleet. At this time the committee-boat reached the fleet with the Columbia in tow, she having picked her up at the Quarantine. Getting outside of the Hook, the Sappho which was about a point on the Livonia's lee beam, began to fore-reach on her, holding as good if not a better wind. The Dreadnaught was unlucky, she caught a scant flaw and got in irons for half a minute, and then broke off a couple points. The Dauntless, too, was unfortunate, she went round on the port tack, and with the tide on her weather bow sagged in a long way, so that when she went round, she was a long distance astern of the Sappho and Livonia, which were the leading boats. After towing the Columbia out to the lightship the committee steamer came back, in order that the committee might have a good look at the Sappho and Livonia, in order to see if it would do to trust the fortunes of the day to the Sappho. They were apparently satisfied for on arriving at the lightship at 11h 30m, where the Columbia was lying with her racing flag at her gaff, she was signaled to haul it down, and the Sappho immediately ran hers up, informing Commodore Ashbury of the formidable competitor that had been selected for him to sail against.

The wind at this time was about south, but the committee, after consultation with sundry ancient mariners, came to the conclusion that it would haul to the westward, and so ordered the mark-boat to steam out twenty miles S.S.W., and there anchor and hoist her flags. The course was from an imaginary line drawn from the committee-boat to the lightship, and round the mark-boat, turning either way, and back to the lightship, a flying start. Then the committee-boat steamed up till the light-ship bore west, and waited. After waiting some time, at last at 12h 1m 30s, the flags were lowered on the committee boat as a signal for the yachts to prepare, and at 12h 6m 30s, down went the flags again, and the whistle sounded for the yachts to go. At this time the Sappho was oh the starboard tack close to the starboard quarter of the lightship, and the Livonia was on the port tack heading across her stern. In about a minute after the signal the Sappho filled away, and soon after that the Livonia tacked on her weather quarter and both boats went for the line, which they crossed as follows: Sappho 12h 11m Livonia 12h 12m 52s.

Then the race commenced in earnest. The wind was moderate from south, and the tide setting to the north-east, and about half done. Both boats carried the same canvas, balloons aft, and working topsails forward, with their jib-topsails stowed. The water was perfectly smooth, as the wind had been light for the whole of the previous night, and the day was most fine, the sky being nearly cloudless. The position of the other yachts was as follows: the Enchantress was on the Sappho's lee beam, the Columbia on the Livonia's lee quarter, the Dauntless away on the Livonia's weather quarter, and the Dreadnaught a long way ahead of the Sappho, a point on her lee bow. The contesting boats headed off about south east on the starboard tack.

00011SAt 12h 21m the Livonia, finding that the Sappho had the heels of her, tacked in shore; hoping to separate from her opponent and have the benefit of the chapter of accidents for her victory she headed in W.S.W. But the Sappho people were not to be sold so easy, and at 12h 33m went round after her. This brought her well up on the Livonia's weather quarter. The attendant yachts also tacked. At 12h 40m the wind canted a point, the boats coming up south-west by west, which brought the Sappho more to windward. At 12h 48m the Dauntless went round on the starboard tack. As the contesting boats drew in to the Jersey shore they had the wind baffling. Coming up to S.W.b.S. and falling off to W.b.S.W. at 12h 56m, the Dauntless crossed the Livonia's bow distant about a half mile.

At 1h 45m the Livonia tacked under the Jersey shore, the Sappho at the same time setting her jib-headed topsail preparatory to taking in her balloon. The Livonia headed off S.E.½S., the Highland lighthouses N.W.½N. At 1h 5m 30m the Sappho took in her balloon main-gaff topsail. At 1h 9m the Sappho went across the bow of the Livonia about a quarter-of-a-mile distant, and up to this time had increased her lead but slightly. At 1h 14m the Sappho tacked off shore on the Livonia's weather quarter; at 1h 15m the Livonia took in her balloon topsail, as she could not make it stand on a wind; at 1h 20m the Sappho took in her fore-topsail.

At 1h 40m the position of the fleet was as follows: To windward of all was the Sappho; on her lee beam, three-quarters-of-a-mile distant, was the Livonia; a point on the latter's lee bow, the Dauntless, two miles away; 03762Sone point forward of the Livonia's lee beam, the Dreadnaught, a mile away; a point on the Livonia's weather quarter, the Columbia, a mile distant; and on the Columbia's weather quarter, distant a mile-and-a-half was the Enchantress, all the yachts on the starboard tack standing off heading about S.E.b.S.

As the boats reached off shore the wind increased, and to the surprise of every one the Dauntless began to draw away from the whole fleet, sailing even better than the Sappho, which was now perceptibly forereaching on the Livonia, as well as holding a better wind. The Dreadnaught, too, did well at this time, laying down to her work and keeping her position on the Livonia's lee beam.

At 1h 50m the Sappho tacked in shore, leaving the Livonia on the offshore tack, and parting company with her. This, although no ill resulted from it, was a mistake, as had the wind hauled to the southward it would have given the race to the Livonia. At 2h 7m the error was perceived, and the Sappho went round again after her antagonist, having lost nothing by her blunder. At 2h 20m the Livonia went round and headed in, trying to again break tacks with the Sappho, but the latter was not to be caught again, and as she reached off she no sooner got ahead of the Englishman than she again went round on the same tack with him, and with a clear lead of a couple of miles.

The wind had steadily increased, and the Sappho had both of her topsails stowed, but at 2h 47m the Livonia set her jib-headed topsail at the main. At about 3h, the Columbia, Dauntless and Dreadnaught bore up, and ran back. 03991SThe Enchantress, however, still stood on, and still carried her balloon main-topsail. As she stood offshore on the starboard tack she met the Livonia coming in on the opposite tack, and although having the undoubted right of way and able easily to have weathered the English yacht, she cautiously bore up and ran under her stern so as not to interfere with her movements.

The Sappho, meanwhile, as the wind breezed and the sea increased, had been showing what she could do. On the same tack with the Livonia she had changed her position from being right ahead of her to a place fully two points on her weather bow, and at the same time had increased her lead fully a mile, being at least three miles away from her at 3h 35m, when she tacked off shore. But she did not stand long on the opposite tack, and at 3h 45m again stood in on the port tack. At 3h 50m the Livonia went round on the starboard tack and stood off shore.

At 4h the Sappho went round and headed for the mark-boat, and set her jib-headed mainsail, and soon after passed the mark-steamer and headed for home. As she went round the crowd on board the excursion steamer Magenta cheered her lustily. At 4h 12m the Livonia went round on the port tack for the mark and was able to weather it, jibing round it in fine style. The time of turning of the two boats was as follows: Sappho 4h 2m 10s Livonia 4h 29m 45s.

From this point the run home was uninteresting, the wind being dead aft, and the Sappho with a lead that insured her the race beyond all peradventure. The Sappho took things easy, and did not run the risk of carrying anything away by flying too many kites. The Livonia, however, crowded all sail after rounding, but tried in vain to close the gap that had been opened by her fleet antagonist.
The following is the time of passing the lightship:

Thus it will be seen that the Sappho beats the Livonia in actual time thirty-one minutes and fourteen seconds and as corrected for allowances thirty minutes and twenty-one seconds The race was one of the finest and fairest ever sailed. The wind, south at the start, soon hauled to S.S.W., the course steered by the mark-boat thus making a beat dead to windward, and the distance as measured by the log of the mark-boat going out and by the log of the Livonia returning was exactly twenty miles. The time made under the circumstances was very fast, and the Sappho has added another leaf to her laurels. The Livonia also did very well and is not disgraced by being beaten by such a vessel as the Sappho and it is not too much to say that there is not a schooner in the world that could have beaten the Sappho in such a wind and over the same course.

 

USEFUL LINKS

THE INTERNATIONAL YACHT RACES - Hunt's Yachting Magazine Dec. 1871 - Google Livres

THE YACHT RACES. - A Pleasant Day but a Light Breeze. The Livonia Again Beaten The Sappho Wins as Easy Victory. - Article - NYTimes.com: