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LA PREMIERE COURSE - 16 OCT. 1871 (Hunt's Yachting Magazine)

Catégorie : 1871 : DEFI N°2

00486VLe Yacht American Columbia Victorieux
Livonia une Demi-Heure Derrière

Après un long entretien entre M. Ashbury et le N.Y.Y.C. pour fixer les conditions du défi, le lundi 16 octobre a été choisi pour le premier match. La journée a débuté avec à peine une ondulation sur les eaux de la Baie.

On a très vite su que le club avait choisi Columbia pour affronter Livonia. Au fil de la matinée, une légère brise s'est levée du nord-ouest. Le parcours était celui du NYYC, départ au mouillage à l'ouest d'un bateau-marque mouillé près de l'embarcadaire de quarantaine, Staten Island, vers la bouée rouge South-west Spit, désignée sur la carte comme bouée No 10, en la passant à l'ouest; de là au bateau-phare, en le contournant au nord et à l'est, retour sur le même parcours et arrivée près du bateau-marque mouillé près de l'embarcadaire de quarantaine, Staten Island.

A 10:35 le signal du départ est donné et la coque légère de Columbia prend immédiatement la tête. Mais le départ n'est pas animé. Une pluie battante a commencé et les perspectives ne sont pas du tout encourageantes. Il y a peu de chances que le vent augmente. Mais le départ est très satisfaisant et on espère que, par quelque circonstance étonnante, les qualités respectives des bateaux seraient testées au maximum. En passant en face du Club House, Columbia a une avance de deux cents mètres, au vent arrière. Son adversaire reste plus près du rivage. Vers onze heures, la pluie tombe assez vivement, le vent virant un peu plus vers le nord.

A 10:57 Columbia est déventé par le Fort Richmond. Après avoir contourné le fort, il commence à montrer des signes d'activité. Attrapant une légère risée, il passe West Bank Hospital à 11:26 avec plus d'un demi-mille d'avance.05143S Livonia avait l'air d'être un adversaire plus redoutable avec ses gros huniers à tête carrée et son foc ballon, bien qu'il n'était pas aussi efficace au près.
Columbia se tient admirablement bien dans le vent léger qui régne. Aucun des deux navires n'a fait grand-chose dans ces circonstances, mais tout le gain a été réalisé par le Columbia qui a passé l'ancien navire-hôpital Illinois à 11:35, ayant alors plus de trois quarts de mille d'avance. Le vent reste stable, accompagné de bruine de pluie, la mer étant relativement douce. Dans ces conditions, il est difficile de juger des qualités de l'un ou l'autre des navires. Cependant, à moins d'un mille de South-west Spit, la brise fraîchit un peu, favorisant d'abord Livonia et produisant une satisfaction évidente. Les bateaux suiveurs se précipitent pour donner à leurs spectateurs l'occasion d'observer de près les navires. Bien que Columbia soit bien en avance, sa victoire à ce stade n'est en aucun cas une certitude, et ainsi l'intérêt et l'anxiété des spectateurs est maintenu. Au fur et à mesure que les yachts s'approchent de la bouée, un grand enthousiasme se manifeste, Columbia étant accueilli par des acclamations et des salutations de tous les côtés. Voici les heures de passage à Southwest Spit: Columbia 12h. 4m. 0s., Livonie 12h, 8m. 27s.

04851SDown came the main-staysails in lively style to be shitted, but the unfortunate jib of the Livonia showed its relish for the briny deep by dragging in it and getting thoroughly soaked. The Columbia moved through the water like a race horse, every stitch of canvas taking well. The run to the light-ship was not marked by any special feature of interest. It was evident to all that the Livonia could not possibly overhaul the Columbia before the light-ship was reached, and indeed it now began to appear that the Livonia would have but little chance of victory at all.

There was a little more wind to fill the sails of both yachts as they came along, the Livonia getting the best until within about a mile of the light-ship, when the Columbia again increased the distance between them. The Columbia, after an easy run, finally rounded the light-ship over fourteen minutes ahead, and was once more hailed by numerous encouraging tokens. The Livonia approached very slowly; with her jib-boom out and her lug foresail shaking in the wind. She almost seemed as if she was anchored, while the Columbia now on the wind, was leaving her pretty far behind. The Livonia however, at length got around, and went in hapless pursuit of her fast-speeding adversary. The following is the official record of the time in which both turned:
Columbia 1h. 23m. 53s., Livonia 1h. 38m. 31s.

With a strong tide to contend against, the yachts made towards the Hook. The breeze freshened a trifle, still blowing north-west. The Columbia sailed beautifully, and was handled to perfection, as up to the present not a single flaw in her management had occurred. Hitherto the day had been gloomy, but toward two o'clock it brightened up considerably, throwing a more cheerful aspect over the race. 03822SCThe Livonia seemed to be falling back all the time, and it was plain that her chances of success were at an end. At 2h. 8m. 30s. p.m., the Columbia went about, being then not less than two miles and a half ahead. The Livonia was meanwhile bearing off toward Coney Island. A noticeable feature was the manner in which the Columbia sailed nearer the wind than the Livonia on the return to the home stake-boat. At 3h. 15m. the Columbia went about, and five minutes later the Livonia tacked to the southward. Whether the maneuver should have been delayed it is unnecessary to discuss, but it did not result very advantageously. The Columbia having again tacked at 3h. 30m. bore away for the South-west Spit, approaching which she looked her prettiest. Once more the steamers congregated in the vicinity of the buoy to await her arrival, and when she did come her reception was something similar to that accorded to the Magic on the day she passed for the home stake-boat when the America's Cup was contended for. She rounded the Spit about twenty-eight minutes ahead. The Livonia tacked for the buoy at 3h. 45m., and with a good breeze still maintained the struggle, though by some it was erroneously thought she had abandoned the race. The two yachts rounded the South-west Spit as follows:
—Columbia 3h. 50m. 13s., Livonia 4h. 19m, 5s.

The Columbia had it now all alone, as the Livonia could not clearly be distinguished, being considerably astern among other yachts. The Columbia was pursued by a regular fleet of pleasure steamers, whose passengers cheered vociferously. Now that she was favored by a good wholesail breeze she sailed remarkably fast, dropping her pursuers and warning the committee-boat to hurry up if the judges felt inclined to record the time of her arrival. As she ran through the Narrows she was greeted with another enthusiastic demonstration from a large number of spectators who had assembled on the ramparts. As the Livonia was out of sight, she was emphatically speaking out of mind, and the honors were showered on the Columbia, although had the former been ahead, there is little doubt she would have received her due.

The Columbia arrived 25m. 188. ahead, which with 2m. 44s. time allowance makes her the winner by 28m. 25. The Livonia had a splendid breeze approaching the Narrows and arrived in good shape. The following is the time of arrival of the contestants at the borne stake-boat, the actual time of the race, and the corrected time by allowance:

Thus ended the first of the series of races for the America's Cup. It was in all respects one of the fairest ever sailed over any course, though the wind was too light really to test the merits of the different combatants.

 

USEFUL LINKS

THE INTERNATIONAL YACHT RACES - Hunt's Yachting Magazine Dec. 1871 - Google Livres

THE QUEEN'S CUP. - First Race of the Series in the International Yachting Contest.The American Yacht Columbia Victorious--TheLivonia Half an Hour Behind--Scenes and Incidents. - Article - NYTimes.com: