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ORGANISATION OF THE DEFENSE

Category: 1899 : CHALLENGE N°10

As more than a year was to intervene between the conclusion of the negotiations and the sailing of the races, the American public held great expectations as to the character of the yachts that should be built to compete.

Since the introduction of bronze and other expensive metals in the building of cup defenders, only the richest could afford to order them.

A boat like Defender cost as much as a dozen old-time racers like Mischief, and probably six times as much as Puritan. Yet an order was promptly given Herreshoff, by J. Pierpont Morgan, for a cup-defence vessel, to be known as Columbia. C. Oliver Iselin had a share in her, and was to be her "managing owner."

Expense was not considered in this case by either the defenders or the challenger. Both had more than enough money to indulge every extravagance, and builders of both the defending and challenging yacht were given carte blanche. How much the boats cost has never been authoritatively stated, but the popular belief was that the expense of building and fitting out, and sailing them during one season was about $250,000 each. Thus half a million dollars was spent in the cup contest of 1899 on competing boats alone.

The defending yacht was laid down early in the winter of 1898-99, at the Herreshoff works in Bristol. As in the case of Defender, great secrecy was aimed at regarding the details of her construction. The public soon knew, however, that she was to be plated entirely with Tobin bronze, with nickel-steel frames, and that her model was that of an improved Defender. She was indeed a larger and finer Defender, with more beam and draft, a shallower body, finer overhangs and a thinner fin, with lead placed lower. Her dimensions were generally stated to be: Length overall 131 feet; beam 24.17 feet; draft 19.75 feet; least freeboard 4.10 feet. These figures, though unofficial, are doubtless very nearly correct. It is impossible, however, to present authoritative statements concerning craft built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, which considers itself under no obligation to yachtsmen or the sport of yachting which should lead it to make public any facts concerning vessels turned out at its shops.

Columbia was launched June 10th, in the evening, and was given her first trial under sail June 25th. She was a beautiful boat, the handsomest yacht ever produced, all critics agreed, and from the first she showed great speed.


Publié le 11 juin 1895
THE COLUMBIA LAUNCHED.
Thousands Watch the New Cup Defender Slide Into the Water -- A Boy Killed.

Published: June 11, 1895
LAUNCH OF THE COLUMBIA.
New Cup Defender leaves her cradle without a hitch.
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As a trial-vessel to sail against her Defender was practically rebuilt at the expense of Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan, and was placed under the management of W. Butler Duncan, Esqr. Columbia was in charge of Capt. Charles Barr, and carried a Deer Isle crew, among whom were many of Defender's old men. On Defender a Scandinavian crew was shipped, in charge of Capt. Urias Rhodes.

In the first meeting of the boats, June 25th, in Narragansett Bay, the new yacht demonstrated her superior speed, and in repeated meetings with Defender was " worked out " during the summer most thoroughly.


Publié le 26 juin 1895
COLUMBIA A WONDER.
Beats the Defender Easily in a Fifteen-Minute Brush.

Published: June 29, 1895
COLUMBIA SHOWS SPEED.
She beats Defender decisively in a brush off Newport.

Published: July 6, 1895
FIRST TRIAL RACE TO-DAY
Columbia and Defender meet for a $250 Cup off Sandy Hook.

Publié le 7 juillet 1895
COLUMBIA WINS FROM DEFENDER.
Defeats Her in Thirty-Mile Race by 3 Minutes and 33 Seconds.

Published: July 7, 1895
COLUMBIA’S RACE 
She defeats Defender by 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
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Published: July 7, 1895
VICTORY FOR COLUMBIA.
The new boat wins her first race.
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Publié le 9 juillet 1895
COLUMBIA AGAIN BEATS DEFENDER.
Wins by 3 minutes and 13 Seconds Over a Course of Thirty Miles.

Published: July 9, 1895
COLUMBIA BEATS THE DEFENDER
Satisfactorytest of the speed of the two yachts.

 

Both boats carried steel masts, which were lighter than pine, and added to their speed by reducing weight aloft. On August 2nd, when sailing against Defender off Point Judith, Columbia was dismasted, through the carrying away of her port spreader, which did not take a true strain. The steel mast collapsed about half-way from the deck, the masthead coming down to the side, but the spar holding together at the point of collapse. Fortunately no one was hurt, though all the vessel's lofty top-hamper and heavy canvas came down on deck. As this was the first accident of the kind on a yacht carrying a steel mast, it attracted much attention. The vessel was ready to sail again in a few days, and with Defender was entered in the N.Y.Y.C. cruise.

On August 10th, in the club run from Brenton Reef to West Chop, Vineyard Haven, thirty-seven miles, Columbia won a fine race from Defender under unusual conditions. The wind was southerly, and about twenty knots an hour, with rain and mist, and considerable sea. The yachts made the course on one tack, their times for the thirty-seven miles being 3 h. 38 s., and 3 h. 1 m. 52 s., respectively. This was very fast time, it will be observed, though both boats were favored in squalls encountered off Gay Head and elsewhere on the course. The race was a severe trial for a new boat of this type.

In the race for the Astor cup, off Newport, August 14th, Columbia defeated Defender 13 m. 7 s. over the Block Island course. The wind at the start was N. W., and light, but freshened during the race.

The trial races

Trial races between Columbia and Defender were held off Newport on September 2d and 4th. A cup for the winner in the first race was offered by W. Gould Brokaw. The race was fifteen miles E. by S. from Brenton Reef light-vessel and return. The wind at the start was from northward and westward, a moderate topsail-breeze, strengthening to twelve knots, but in the last half of the race a light, bafiling air. There was some roll from an old sea. Columbia beat Defender 6 m. 49 s. over the course.

The second race was sailed over a triangular course, ten miles to a leg, starting at Brenton Reef light-vessel. The wind was E. by N., fifteen knots. Columbia beat Defender 10 m. 7 s. over the course. A cup for the winner was offered by Harrison B. Moore.

In a special race September 5th, for a cup offered by William G. Goddard, Columbia beat Defender, in a strong southwester, over a course ten miles from Brenton Reef light-vessel and return by 3 m. 22 s.


Publié le 3 sept. 1895
COLUMBIA WINS THE FIRST RACE.
Outpoints the Defender in a Thirty-Mile Sail.

Publié le 5 sept. 1895
COLUMBIA WILL BE THE DEFENDER.
Wins the Right to Become America's Cup Champion. Sails Across the Line 10 Minutes 7 Seconds Ahead.