Category: 1887 : CHALLENGE N°7

Boston faced up to the British threat

After Mr. George L. Watson, the leading yacht designer of Great Britain, had visited America, it was then reported that his forthcoming yacht would be of phenomenal speed, combining the best points of American as well as English racers.

But General Paine and Mr. Burgess were not content to rest upon their past achievements, and were determined to show that America could also improve in yacht-designing. Again did General Paine assert his patriotic spirit, and again did Mr. Burgess display his skill. When the measurements of the Thistle became known, in the spring of 1887, Mr. Burgess immediately began work on the designs of a steel centre-board sloop of about the same water-line length as the Thistle, and General Paine immediately stepped to the front in defense of the Cup, and bore the entire expense of building and fitting out a yacht from the new designs. The yacht was built in the remarkably short time of sixty-six days, and was launched the last day of June, being christened Volunteer.

The maiden trip of the Volunteer under sail was made on July 21, 1887, and she gave great satisfaction.

The trial races

On September 13, the first of the trial races of American sloops was started over the New York Yacht Club inside course. The only entries were the Volunteer, centre-board sloop, Boston, and the Mayflower, centre-board sloop, New York. During the season the spar-plan of the Mayflower had been slightly altered. After the yachts had started the wind subsided, and a postponement was made.

On September 15 another attempt was made to have the trial, but the boats did not start, owing to a lack of wind.

The next trial race, which proved to be the decisive one, was sailed on September 16, over an irregular course, starting from the Scotland Lightship. The mark-buoys were so placed as to give the yachts all kinds of sailing. The wind was strong from the north-west by north, and the boats were given a ten-mile run south-east by south, then a nine-mile leg west-south-west ; thence back to the first mark, and a beat back to the starting-point; distance, 38 miles. On only one leg did the Mayflower outsail the Volunteer, and then only by 22 seconds. Volunteer defeated Mayflower by 16 m. 22 s., elapsed time, and her performance satisfied the committee that another trial was not necessary.


Course. — 38 miles; 10 miles, south-east by south, starting from Scotland Lightship ; thence 9 miles, west-south-west ; thence back, around the first mark, to the starting-point.
Wind. — Varying from 8 to 12 miles an hour; north-west by north.

The Volunteer defeated the Mayflower 16 minutes 22 seconds, elapsed time.The committee immediately decided that the Volunteer was the better all-around boat, and notified General Paine that she had been selected to sail against the Thistle for the Cup.