THE FIRST RACE - OCT. 16, 1871 (Hunt's Yachting Magazine)

Category: 1871 : CHALLENGE N°2

00486VThe American Yacht Columbia Victorious
The Livonia Half an Hour Behind

After Mr. Ashbury and the N.Y.Y.C. had at length agreed on the terms above referred to, Monday the 16th of October was fixed upon for the first match and the day broke with scarce a ripple on the waters of the Bay.

It soon became known that the club had decided to start the Columbia against the Livonia. As the morning wore on a light breeze sprang up from the north-west. The course was over the N.Y.Y.C, course, from an anchorage west of a flag-boat stationed near the quarantine landing, Staten Island, to the red first class can buoy west of South-west Spit buoy, designated on the chart map as buoy No. 10, passing it to the west and south; thence to the light-ship, rounding it to the northward and eastward, returning over the same course, passing to the east going and returning of all the buoys on the West Bank—viz., Nos. 13, 11 and 9 — and to the westward of the flag-boat stationed near the quarantine landing, Staten Island.

At 10h. 35m. a.m. the signal was given for the start and the light body of the Columbia at once gave her the lead, but the start was not enlivening for a drizzling rain commenced, and the prospects ahead were not at all encouraging, there being little likelihood of the wind increasing. But the start was highly satisfactory, and hopes were entertained that, by some portentous circumstance, the respective qualities of the vessels would be tested to the utmost. Passing opposite the N.Y.Y.C. house the Columbia had a clear lead of fully two hundred yards, with the wind aft. Her opponent kept close to the shore, and getting into the eddy slowly crawled up on the Columbia. Toward eleven o‘clock the rain fell pretty briskly, the wind hauling a little more to the northward.

At 10h. 57m. the Columbia passed close to Fort Richmond, her sails hanging loosely. After rounding the fort she stood more up to windward and began to show signs of activity. Catching a slight puff however, the Columbia commenced to move through the water in livelystyle, and passed the West Bank Hospital at 11h. 26m., being at that time over half-a-mile ahead.05143S The Livonia looked a most formidable adversary, with her big square-headed topsails and balloon jib, although the latter was by no means so serviceable on the wind as some might have anticipated.
Up to the present there had been really no exciting feature in connection with the race. The Columbia held her own admirably in the light wind that prevailed. Neither vessel did very much under the circumstances, but all the gain was made by the Columbia, which ran past the old hospital ship Illinois at 11h. 35m., being then ahead over three-quarters of a mile. The wind continued light from the same direction, accompanied by drizzling rain, the sea being comparatively smooth. In such a case it would be difficult to judge of the qualities of either vessel, but the speed of both was decidedly retarded by the want of wind. Within a mile or so however, of the South-west Spit the breeze freshened s little, first favoring the Livonia, and soon after striking the Columbia, a circumstance which produced evident gratification. The contestants bowled along in fine style. The accompanying steamers hurried up to the spot with dispatch, to give their spectators an opportunity of closely viewing the vessels under way. Although the Columbia was well ahead, her victory at this stage was by no means looked forward to as a certainty, and so the interest and anxiety of the spectators were accordingly maintained. As the yachts approached the buoy a great amount of enthusiasm was manifested, the Columbia being greeted with cheers and salutes from all sides. The following shows the time and order in which the vessels rounded the Southwest Spit :—Columbia 12h. 4m. 0s., Livonia 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.



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: