COLUMBIA'S STORY

Category: COLUMBIA

"A Thrash to Windward: Mrs. Iselin and the Crew of COLUMBIA, 1899"  By Russ KramerVictorious defender of America's Cups 1899 and 1901

As soon as the challenge of Sir Thomas Lipton has been accepted, an order was promptly given to Herreshoff by J. Pierpont Morgan and Edwin Dennison Morgan of New York Yacht Club, for a cup-defence vessel, to be known as Columbia. C. Oliver Iselin had a share in her, and was to be her "managing owner."

Expense was not considered in this case by either the defenders or the challenger. Both had more than enough money to indulge every extravagance, and builders of both the defending and challenging yacht were given carte blanche. How much the boats cost has never been authoritatively stated, but the popular belief was that the expense of building and fitting out, and sailing them during one season was about $250,000 each. Thus half a million dollars was spent in the cup contest of 1899 on competing boats alone.

Launching of "Columbia," Built To Defend "America's" Cup Against "Shamrock."The defending yacht was laid down early in the winter of 1898-99, at the Herreshoff works in Bristol. As in the case of Defender, great secrecy was aimed at regarding the details of her construction.

Columbia was launched June 10th, in the evening, and was given her first trial under sail June 25th. She was a beautiful boat, the handsomest yacht ever produced, all critics agreed, and from the first she showed great speed.

'Flying Home' by John MecrayAs a trial-vessel to sail against her Defender was practically rebuilt at the expense of Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan, and was placed under the management of W. Butler Duncan, Esqr. Columbia was in charge of Capt. Charlie Barr, and carried a Deer Isle crew, among whom were many of Defender's old men. On Defender a Scandinavian crew was shipped, in charge of Capt. Urias Rhodes.

In the first meeting of the boats, June 25th, in Narragansett Bay, the new yacht demonstrated her superior speed, and in repeated meetings with Defender was " worked out " during the summer most thoroughly.

On August 2nd, when sailing against Defender off Point Judith, Columbia was dismasted, through the carrying away of her port spreader, which did not take a true strain. The steel mast collapsed about half-way from the deck, the masthead coming down to the side, but the spar holding together at the point of collapse.

She easily won the elimination trials against Defender.

The races of America's Cup

COLUMBIA V. SHAMROCK I, 1899 by Tim Thompson- from 3 au 20 october 1899, at New York.
- the contest was to be decided by the winning three races out of five.
- the first, third and fifth races to be to windward and leeward, the second and fourth over a triangle, all courses to be thirty miles, and laid to windward when possible.
- the starts to be from Sandy Hook light-vessel.
- starting signals to be given at 11 o'clock, and delayed only in event of changing the starting-point, fog, or agreed postponement; preparatory gun to be fired ten minutes before starting signal, and handicap gun two minutes after
- time limit for races five and a half hours.
- vessels to be allowed time for repairs in case of an accident.
- yachts to be measured with all weights on board to be carried in a race, restrictions as to bulkheads, floors, doors, water-tanks and anchor being waived.
- the water-line should be marked at the bow and as far aft as possible, on each vessel.

Columbia is confronted to Shamrock, the challenger of Royal Ulster Yacht Club,.
Four races postponed : lack of wind or fog.
Four races canceled : time limit.
Three regattas are raced. Columbia beat Shamrock, three wins to nil.

- October 16, 1st race, 30 miles, windward-leeward : Columbia beat Shamrock by 10 mn 8 s corrected time.
- October 17, 2nd race, 30 miles, triangle : Shamrock's topmast broken. Columbia wins.
- October 20, 3rd race, 30 miles, windward-leeward : Columbia beat Shamrock by 6 mn 34 s corrected time after a race of anthology.

Richard Lane : Defense of the Cup"Columbia vs. Shamrock II" Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 36"

Hope Goddard Iselin was the only female on the crew, serving as afterguard.

Columbia was selected again in 1901 to defend the Cup, and again under the command of Charlie Barr, won all three races against Shamrock II. She was the first vessel to win the trophy twice in a row (a record not equaled until Intrepid's back-to-back wins in 1967 and 1970.)

In 1903 Columbia was refitted with the hope of being selected for a third time, but she was badly beaten in the selection trials by the yacht Reliance.

Columbia was cut up for scrap in 1913 at City Island.