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THE FIRST RACE - JULY 31, 1937

00418VRANGER BEATS ENDEAVOUR II BY BIGGEST MARGIN IN FIFTY YEARS

Huge Newport Spectator Fleet Ranges From Rowboats to Ocean-Going Craft; FOG COVERS RETURN OF FLEET TO HARBOR But Skippers Report Perfect Day of Cruising in World's Biggest Sports Arena.

Harold S. Vanderbilt's Ranger, defending the America's Cup, triumphed easily over T. O.M. Sopwith’s Endeavour II in the first race of the series off Newport yesterday.

On Saturday, July 31, the first race for the America’s Cup scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m., D. S. T., finally got under way at 1:25 p.m., after several postponements due chiefly to the crowding of the spectator fleet at the starting line. With the arrival, however, of the full Coast Guard patrol force, the space was quickly cleared and the course signals hoisted.

The race was to be a windward and leeward affair with the windward buoy 15 miles south by east from the starting point. The breeze was from the same direction with a velocity of about five miles an hour. The sea was smooth. The spectator fleet was one of the smallest recorded in recent years with a notable absence of large excursion steamers and yachts.

Both yachts dropped their tows just before the five minute warning signals from the New York Yacht Club committee boat Wilhelmina and both proceeded to the western end of the starting line with Ranger a little ahead. Ranger gibed around and headed for the line with Endeavour II doing the same thing. Both yachts were on the starboard tack with Ranger to weather but with Endeavour II about half a length ahead. They were quite close together and crossed the line within a very few seconds of the starting whistle. Endeavour II was carrying a Genoa jib while Ranger had a double clewed jib with staysail set under it.

About a half mile from the starting line, Ranger tacked and Endeavour went around almost immediately after. The American yacht seemed to make a quicker and better job of it. Ranger seemed to be footing much faster and opened up the distance at once and at two o’clock she was at least a quarter mile ahead of the challenger and doing close to eight knots in the breeze which was freshening. At this point she was practically directly ahead of Endeavour II. At 2:30 Endeavour II's skipper finally discovered that the Genoa jib was knocking him off to leeward at a rather alarming rate, and the big sail was doused to be quickly replaced by a head rig similar to that of Ranger. Five minutes later Ranger was at least one-half mile directly ahead of the challenger.

J-Boats in the Fog, America's Cup, 1937At 2:38 p.m. Endeavour went about on the starboard tack and shortly after Ranger followed suit to keep her covered. At 3:07 Endeavour II tacked again with Ranger following about two minutes later. One minute later Endeavour tacked again and once more Ranger followed, always keeping between her adversary and the mark. Then began a series of short, quick tacks on the part of the challenger with Ranger keeping her constantly covered and “making money” on every tack. Finally Ranger, tiring of this play, went on about her business, tacking slowly to the windward mark, but every time she tacked, Endeavour II went about on the opposite board. However, at no time Ranger’s lead was endangered nor did she let Endeavour II get too far away in the somewhat spotty breeze. At 3:30, Ranger was nearly a full mile in the lead with about four miles to go to the mark. The short tacks continued until finally at 4:14 Ranger tacked for the last time and laid the mark. At about 4:15 she rounded and within three minutes had her head sails in and a beautifully setting ballooner on with a smaller reaching staysail under it. Endeavour II found she could not make the mark and had to take one extra hitch to get there with the result that she was about six minutes and thirty seconds behind when she finally made it. Endeavour II immediately set a small ballooner. Both yachts stood a little high of the course to the finish line.00574S

At approximately half way to the finish line, Ranger, well in the lead, dropped her ballooner and staysail and set a small parachute spinnaker. She then bore off for the finish, moving fast and drawing rapidly away from the British yacht. Endeavour ll continued to carry on, way high of the mark, until she was lost sight of in the increasing fog bank which had rolled in. Ranger had set a small staysail under her spinnaker and was the center of all eyes as she approached the finish line for Endeavour II had gone completely out of sight. For some time it was thought that either her navigator had become confused or that her owner-skipper had decided to run on back to Newport and not finish the race.

RACE 1 - JULY 31 - 2x15 miles - Start 13:25
  WINDWARD LEEWARD RACE GAP
1 Ranger 2:49:49 1:51:26 4:41:15  
2 Endeavour II 2:56:02 2:02:18 4:58:20 17' 05"

At 5:06:15 Ranger crossed the line in a ten and a half knot breeze. Endeavour II finally emerged from her fog blanket and crossed the line at 5:23:20, 17 minutes and 5 seconds behind the American yacht. When she finally crossed she was carrying a spinnaker. She traveled a considerably greater distance through the water and put on an exceedingly disappointing performance throughout the race.

 

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