Category: 1881 : CHALLENGE N°4



Copyright © The New York Times - Published: October 21, 1881 : Yachting 20 miles to the windward in a heavy sea is fine sport for yachtsmen who are not fond of smooth water, but it is not very easy work. The race yesterday was the last of the series sailed by first class sloops of the New-York Yacht Club, and the course was laid 20 miles to the windward of the point of Sandy Hook.

As the wind was about north-east, it placed the objective point off the Long Island shore, a short distance east of the Long Beach Hotel. The yachts Gracie, Pocahontas, and Mischief, and the tug E. Suckenbach, which was to convey the Regatta Committee of the New-York Yacht Club over the course rendezvoused in the cove inside of Sandy Hook about 9 A. M. At that time the wind was very stiff, and the clouds in heavy masses were drifting low in air.

04867S2The start was made from buoy No. 5 off the point of the Hook at a little after 10 o'clock. The Mischief and Pocahontas had their topmasts housed but the Gracie carried her working topsail as jauntily as if the weather were fair. The Pocahontas was the first boat to get off. She crossed the line on the port tack with good headway at 10:18:55, two and a half minutes ahead of the Gracie, and about three minutes ahead of the Mischief. As soon as the Pocahontas was well over she made a starboard tack, heading up the bay. The Gracie followed suit, but the Mischief kept on the port tack until well outside of the Hook. The Gracie out-footed the Pocahontas from the start and passed her within three miles. The Mischief also soon afterward passed her, but did not get much of a lead. Indeed the Pocahontas was more than holding her own, when suddenly she lowered her peak and turned back. It was discovered that one of the fastening of her starboard shrouds had started and that the rail was splitting. To have continued on the course would have been to run the risk of carrying away her mast, and Commodores Waller and Smith, who were on board, wisely determined to turn back.

The other boats kept alternately dipping their bowsprits into the high seas and showing the keel of their bows. Nevertheless the Gracie held on to her topsail, and, except for a few minutes during which it was lowered without being taken in, she carried it during the whole race. She rapidly out-footed the Mischief, and at the same time out-pointed her, and by the time the turning-point of the race was reached the latter was a beaten boat. However, luck was on the Mischief’s side, as will appear hereafter. The tug Suckenbach steamed straight along the course after the start and anchored a buoy at 16 nautical miles, by the 102 from the starting-point. The Gracie turned this point at 2:08:32. 9 minutes 16 seconds ahead of the Mischief, having gained over eight minutes in beating out, although beating is one of the Mischief’s strongest points.

03653SFrom the turning-point back to the finish the run was straight before the wind, and the Gracie, under the pressure of her immense balloon jib, boomed out as a spinnaker and flew homeward like a frightened duck. The Mischief did not log either after rounding, but as she had not sent up her topmast some time was lost before she could get up her topsail and balloon jib. However, good luck saved her. As the Gracie neared the Hook she ran into a lighter streak of wind, which finally became almost a calm, while the Mischief came bounding after with sails well filled. Still the Gracie held the race securely, being nearly seven minutes ahead.

The tug E. Meyers. Capt. Edward Payne, was towing in a large bark on a line obliquely crossing the Gracie’s course. As the yacht neared the finish her path converged with that of the tug, and the latter was signaled and asked to slack up and let the yacht keep on. The Captain of the tug, however, kept on his way and the Gracie had to be luffed up to avoid a collision with the bark. As it was, her spinnaker boom missed the stern of the bark by less than two feet. Considerably more than a minute was thus lost, and that delay enabled the Mischief to run up and win the race on her time allowance. The Gracie allowed the Mischief 4 minutes 56 seconds, and was beaten by only 14 seconds.

Following is the official record:

  Start. Finish. Actual
   H.  M.  S.  H.  M.  S.  H.  M.  S.  H.  M.  S. 
 Mischief  10  21  29  31  35  10  06  05  10 
 Gracie   10  21  00  26  24  05  24  05  24 
 Pocahontas   10  18  55  Withdrawn.