Category: 1881 : CHALLENGE N°4

Reach for the Start: MISCHIEF, 1881 - by Russ Kramer"Mischief... magnificently handled, easily outdistanced the Atalanta, a new yacht, hastily built... and bungled around the course by an alleged crew, who would have been overmatched in trying to handle a canal boat anchored in the fog".

This was the description of a Spirit of the Times journalist in his article about the 1881 challenge.

THE ATALANTAHowever, all is not lost. The 1881 Match is a turning point in Cup history. First, schooners are abandoned in favour of sloops. Then the Americans demonstrate their resolve to hold on to the Cup.

For the first time, the NYYC arrange for a purpose build defender, Pocahontas, designed by David Kirby. The Americans then set-up a selection series to ensure the best Defender is chosen to fight for the Cup. Mischief, designed in 1879 by Archibald Cary Smith is the winner and goes on to obliterate the Canadians. This machine for win that are the selections for the defender will work with an undeniable success for over a century! The logical pursuit of excellence ...

As for the Canadian Alexander Cuthbert, he will forever remain the only skipper owner to have designed and built his champion. His only remarkable feat because Atalanta will never measure up to Mischief :

1st race 32.6 miles: Mischief beats Atalanta by 28:30 in corrected time.
2nd race 32 miles: Mischief beats Atalanta by 38:54 in corrected time.

Capt. Cuthbert showed that there was good fighting blood in him by announcing at the conclusion of the races that it was his intention to lay Atalanta up in New York for the winter and challenge with her again the next spring. His ambition for further attempts with Atalanta availed him nothing, however, as a clause in the new deed of gift barred a defeated vessel from challenging a second time until after the lapse of two years from the date of her last races.

The reactions of the American Press

"Mischief, magnificently handled, distanced the Atalanta, a new yacht, hastily built, totally untried, and miserably equipped, with sails which misfitted like a Chatham Street suit of clothes, and bungled around the course by an alleged crew, who would have been over-matched in trying to handle a canal-boat anchored in a fog...

Difficult to have the tooth harder than that of the journalist of The Spirit of the Times in his article on the challenge of 1881.

Six interesting articles of The News York Times :

November 1st, 1881 Arrival of the Atalanta The canadian yacht that is to sail for the America's Cup
November, 6th 1881 Preparations The Defender not yet named.
November, 8th 1881 Today's yacht race The Atalanta to compete with the Mischief or the Gracie
November, 9th 1881 A fog causes the postponement The choice of the Defender: Mischief
November, 10th 1881 The Atalanta badly beaten Many details on the progress of the race
November, 11th 1881 Second and final victory the details of the race and the controversy over the choice of the Defender

A page from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newpaper

A picture that shows the victory of Mischief against Atalanta in the first round of the America's Cup