THE STORY OF PURITAN

Category: PURITAN

Puritan was the 1885 America's Cup defender.

When the challenge of Genesta had been made public, a party of Boston business men decided to build a vessel for cup defense, to represent New England. The syndicate included Mr. J. Malcolm Forbes, who was to bear the bulk of the expense; Gen. Charles J. Paine, Mr. William Gray, Jr.,...

... Mr. Henry S. Hovey, Mr. William F. Weld, Mr. Augustus Hemenway, Mr. W. H. Forbes, Mr. John L. Gardner, Mr. J. Montgomerv Sears and Mr. F. L. Higginson. Messrs. Forbes, Paine and Gray were given charge of the yacht, Gen. Paine being the active manager.

Edward Burgess was commissioned to design the Boston defender, which was called Puritan. Work on Puritan was begun in March, at the yard of George Lawley & Son in South Boston, and the vessel was launched May 26th, 1885.

Puritan was a radical departure from the old-time American sloop, and a type in herself, combining the beam, power and centerboard of the sloop, with some of the depth and the outside lead of an English cutter. In this respect she was the first vessel of her kind, the pioneer in the combination of American and English ideas which has resulted in the wonderfully fast yachts of the present. She may fairly be called a “compromise sloop”. She was built of wood.

The maiden trip of the Puritan was made on the 17th of June, 1885, for the purpose of stretching her sails. Her sailing-master was Capt. Aubrey Crocker, of Cohasset, Mass., who had attracted the attention of Puritan's owners by his skilful handling of the sloop Shadow. The trial trip of Puritan was made on June 20th, 1885, and on this and subsequent trials the result was most gratifying. On the 30th of June she was entered for her first race, in the regatta of the Eastern Yacht Club, off Marblehead ; and over a triangular course of 30 miles she led the fleet, and easily defeated the fastest Eastern sloops and schooners.

While Boston was producing Puritan, New York was busy turning out another yacht as a candidate for cup-defense honors, to be called Priscilla. James Gordon Bennett, commodore, and W. P. Douglas, vice-commodore of the New York Yacht Club, supplied the money to build her ; A. Gary Smith designed her, and she was built by the Harlan & Hollingsworth Company of Wilmington. Puritan was easily leading in the American defender selection trials against Priscilla, Bedouin, an "American" cutter ordered in 1882 and Gracie, the old sloop modeled in 1868 by Abraham A. Schank.

On 4th September, 3 days before the first race, the Puritan presented a novel appearance. She had been pot-leaded up to her deck lines, and consequently only her rail remains white. Thus she presents a narrow band of white above a wide expanse of dark mouse-color. The object of pot-leading she above the water line is to provide for her heeling and thereby make her as slippery as possible under any conditions of win and sea.

The Puritan is manned for the cup races as follow: Captain Aubrey Crocker, formerly skipper of the Eastern yacht Shadow; pilot, Joe Ellsworth; mate, A. Howard; second mate, Mr. Martin, and 16 sailors before the mast, including three sailors of the schooner Grayling, and a number of men from the Priscilla. In addition to this crew, the following gentlemen will sail on the Puritan in the races: J. Malcom Forbes, Carroll J. Welch, Dr. John Bryant, Gen. Paine, George H. Richards, J. R. Busk, of the America's Cup Committee; Edward Burgess, and to represent the Genesta E. M. Padelford. Commodore Latham A. Fish, of the Atlantic Yacht Club, and the owner of the schooner Grayling, may also be aboard of her.

 

America's Cup races

Sailed on September 14 to 16, 1885 in New York -
Best two out of three races.

Puritan the defender vs. Genesta the challenger

Alternating Inside & Outside Course as in 1871, but first leg to leeward and return leg to windward.

Races: two sailed. Puritan beats Genesta two wins to nil.

- September 14, 1st race, 32.6 miles, Inside Course: Puritan beats Genesta by 16 minutes 19 sec in corrected time.

- September 16, 2nd race, 32 miles, Outside Course: Puritan beats Genesta by 1 minute 38 sec in corrected time.

After the races, on September 24, 1885, the Puritan was sold at auction for $13,500. Mr. Burgess, her designer, represented a Boston purchaser, but declined to give the name of his client or to say whether he was one of the syndicate which built the boat. He said that the Puritan would be taken to Boston immediately end would be laid up for the season. As the boat cost $26,000 to build, the enterprising yachtsmen who paid the bills for her construction have invested nearly 50 per cent of the cost price in the glory of beating the Genesta. It will in time appear that John Malcolm Forbes was the purchaser.
1886
J. Malcolm Forbes kept on Aubrey Crocker as skipper of the sloop. Still an excellent defense candidate, Puritan was difficult to beat, but eventually Mayflower the Burgess design, skippered by Martin V.B. Stone, was able to win the trials!
(1888 -Puritan was converted to a schooner. A broker who removed its lead keel bought it.)
1888
Puritan wins the N.Y.Y.C. cruise for best average on the runs, she has scored three straight wins.
1891
With the Volunteer converted into a schooner, there is left only the puritan to keep up the class of big single-stickers.
1891-1892
Puritan got under way with the squadron of the N.Y.Y.C. cruise but not being in the racing division.
1893
Commodore J. Malcolm Forbes of the Eastern Yacht Club and owner of the sloop Puritan has purchased the Volunteer from Gen. Paine.
1894
May 21- Puritan sold at auction and knocked down for $4,700 to Charles A. Welch, but the next day, Commodore Forbes announces he still owns the Puritan, and wants get a better price later in the season.
1896
Puritan, whose rig was changed this Spring from sloop to schooner, has been chartered for the season by Dr. W. Barton Hopkins of Philadelphia. She makes a fine looking schooner in her new rig, and is apparently fast and able.
1902
In December 1902, Puritan has been sold to a prominent Boston yachtsman who will have her centreboard taken out and the yacht changed into an auxiliary. (False report because...)
1903
Puritan wins the run of the Eastern Yacht Club by nearly one hour after a thirty-seven-mile run up from Vineyard Haven.
1905

BOSTON, June 27. -- The schooner yacht Puritan was sold at public auction to O'Connor Brothers for $4,025. The yacht was owned by Charles W. Foster.
After 1905
Puritan was converted and sailed as a working boat, for freight and passengers, between Portugal and the Azores and sometimes all the way to New Bedford, New England.
1925
Puritan
was too small and not very profitable in spite of its speed potential. It was dismantled and scrapped on the East coast, in 1925.

From Puritan, only the wheel remains, hanging as decoration over the counter of a pub in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

 

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