Category: 1920 : CHALLENGE N°13


Defender Was Far in Lead

FRIDAY, JULY 16, 1920 - Yesterday's international yacht race victory will go officially to Shamrock's credit.

It was said last night that even though Sir Thomas Lipton showed a sportsmanlike disposition to have the contest sailed over again the America's Cup Committee wouid not permit it.

01865SAt 10.30 a new breeze came in from the southeast and at Ambrose Lightship, the starting point, was blowing seven knots and Increasing every minute, Inshore. Resolute and Shamrock were coming out.

At 10.40 the Goldsborough passed the two cup contenders. The Resolute had her main sail and top sail hoisted. The Shamrock was spreading her canvas. The breeze, which had been very light, was rapidly freshening and veering to the east. There was promise of a splendid racing day.

At 11 o'clock the wind at the Lightship had shifted back to southwest and flattened to three knots. A long roll made in from the southward, over which the two yachts swept easily. The weather continued clear, with sky overcast.

Contenders met for first time

At 11.30 the Regatta Committee hoisted the signal for a southwest by south course. The breeze was scarcely strong enough to stir the flags. Resolute reached the start at 11.15, but Shamrock was nearly half an hour late.

At 11.45, with the preliminary signal set, the breeze had Increased to five knots and both boats were maneuvering for position. Shamrock passed Resolute and then, turning quickly, steered after and passed her, going quite fast.

At 11.50 both yachts were holding about west on the port tack with Shamrock leading. Suddenly Shamrock hauled off and rounded the lightship, followed by Resolute. Up to this time the fight had been in favor of the green boat.

Resolute crosses the line first

At 11.55 both yachts were fighting it out to the weather of the line. Then they broke tack and Resolute headed for the westward end of the line, while the Shamrock came round the committee boat. Shamrock was over the line at the starting signal and had to recross, Burton making a bad mess. Resolute slipped over in first place. Shamrock recrossed forty seconds after Resolute and immediately stood after the American boat but two hundred yards astern.

Official starting time: Resolute, 12.00.10; Shamrock, 12.01.38. The official time allowance will be six minutes and forty seconds.

Shamrock's start was the worst ever made by a Lip ton boat. At 12.05 Shamrock, seemingly unable to catch Resolute, broke away and headed in shore. Resolute followed at once and began to output the green boat. Resolute was leading by 300 yards.

At 12.10 P. M. a rain squall drenched both yachts and nearly killed the breeze. Resolute pointed higher, but shamrock footed a trifle astern. At 1 o'clock Resolute was leading by nearly half a mile, but they both were moving slowly, and it looked at that time as if the course would not be finished in the time limit.

At 1.05 P. M. both yachts were standing offshore on a starboard tack, with the Resolute more than half a mile in the lead and slightly to windward. The wind breezed up again to six knots.

Second rain squall hits yachts

Rain squall after rain squall swept over the course, blotting out the yachts oven from the patrol boat.
At 1.15 the wind hauled to the westward, letting the yachts up so that they nearly pointed for the mark, eleven miles down the Jersey coast. Resolute was leading by half a mile.

At 1.30 P.M. the yachts had sailed seven miles of the course and were trifle south of the Highlands. Both yachts shifted the small baby jib top sail for larger head sails and Resolute's crew made the change in half the time or their rivals. Resolute at 1.35 was still leading by three-eighths of a mile.

Shrewsbury gas buoy

At 1.40 P.M. Resolute shifted larger baby jib, topsail and about the same time Shamrock went on the port tack and headed inshore. It looked like a bad move by Burton, as he was headed far off the course.
Passing Shrewsbury gas buoy, nine miles from the start and six from the turning mark, the Resolute was four minutes and thirty-five seconds ahead. Both yachts passed within half a mile of the buoy with the Shamrock a trifle to leeward. The tack of the Shamrock inshore cost her fully half a mile. The Resolute sailed several miles under number one jib topsail and forestay sail, her jib up in stops. The time at Shrewsbury gas buoy was : Resolute, 1:48.10; Shamrock, 1:52.45.

Both yachts shifted back to baby jib topsails after passing Shrewsbury Rocks. The wind increased as the yachts neared the outer mark and Resolute held up to it better than Shamrock. At 2.15, approaching Long Branch, Resolute was going fast head on the starboard tack with a chance to reach the mark. It looked as if the Shamrock would have to make another tack.

At 2.30 the two yachts were making Long Branch, with Resolute half a mile dead to windward. The breeze continued rather south, but it looked at that time as if It would blow the yachts over the course within the time limit.

The accident

At 2:50 Captain H. H. Norton of the destroyer Simmes, watching the white sloop through binoculars, shouted, "She's in trouble!" A second later Resolute's long gaff swung downward, her mainsail collapsed and the club of her topsail was torn away. Gradually as the wind banged the sagging mass about, the whole cloud of canvas slipped down to the deck and left the topsail fluttering wildly in the breeze.

Spectators expected to see the yacht come up into the wind and quit, but she didn't. With only her headsails set, she held to her course as though nothing had happened and rounded the stake at exactly 2:53. Cheer after cheer went up from surrounding vessels as it was seen that Resolute was going to give the Britisher a fight, even though crippled. But the American boat was done. She had hardly rounded the mark when the last halyard supporting the mainsail and fallen gaff gave way, and it was apparent that to continue the struggle was impossible.

Winner Passes Resolute

Shamrock, footing faster under the piping breeze, made the mark herself on the next tack and rounded it at 2:57. Five minutes later she passed her disabled opponent and went on to win a race that she couldn't lose. As soon as Shamrock had passed her, Resolute came up into the wind and the tug James Dougherty rushed to her assistance and took her in tow.

A destroyer went alongside Resolute a few minutes after the accident and asked what had happened. Robert W. Emmons, managing owner of the craft, said that her throat halyards had parted and caused the mainsail to collapse. This is believed to have been the beginning of the trouble, but it was obvious to persons on nearby boat that the gaff jaws had become entirely separated from the mast, as that spar was hanging free in a perpendicular position.

The wind increased rapidly after the mark was turned and the Shamrock found it necessary to drop her jib topsail. After she passed Resolute and saw that the latter was out of the race, the challenger eased up consideraby and took her time on the run down the wind. Had the element of competition remained she would have set a ballooner and a spinnaker, but with nothing to gain by breaking out cloud of canvas, she contented herself with her mainsail, club topsail and headsails.

At 4:18 o'clock, when the cup hunter was booming up toward the finish line, there were signs of another squall, an her men were sent aloft to take in the club topsail. They just managed to get this skyscraping wing in when the last blast of the day broke in a torrential downpour and a howling southwest wind.

Crosses Line in Squall

The full fury of the squall did not swoop down on the course until Shamrock had gone over the line. The brilliant flashes of lightning and crashing salvos of thunder seemed to want to join the uproar of whistles, foghorns and sirens that were greeting the victorious Britisher. The demonstration on the part surrounding craft could hardly have been greater if Shamrock had outsailed Resolute and overcome the heart-breaking time allowance she concedes.
As her green hull flashed between the committee boat Baryton and the melancholy Ambrose Lightship the signal was flown declaring her the winner and every craft with a noise-making instrument for miles around opened up in a leather-lunged salute. It was the most car-splitting chorus ever sung for a foreign yacht in American water.

Probably the best exhibition Shamrock gave during the afternoon was seen after she had covered the thirty-mile course and was caught in the swirling blast of tho last squall. It was then that she proved her marvellous sturdiness. Refusing a dozen offers of assistance and declining to be towed, she continued to spread her huge mainsail and jibs when great schooners all about her were reefing or coming up into the wind to weather the blow.

Only destroyers were able to keep up with her and it was estimated that while she was making this spectacular rush for the shelter of the Hook she was reeling off as much as eighteen knots an hour.