THE FIFTH RACE - OCT. 23, 1871 (Hunt's Yachting Magazine)

Category: 1871 : CHALLENGE N°2

00486VAnother Race Won by the Sappho and the Match Decided

On the morning of the 23rd October, the committee boat Seth Low left the foot of Vestry street shortly after nine o’clock, and proceeded with all dispatch to the anchorage ground, opposite the New York Yacht Club House.

Vice commodore Douglas was promptly informed that the Sappho was the vessel selected to sail against the Livonia, and preparations for the event were at once made on board the Sappho.

The prospects of a fine race were very encouraging; there being at the time a good whole sail breeze from the westward. The members of the committee, by the way were congratulating themselves on the fact that the contest would be altogether a speedy affair, and lost but little time in getting the competing vessels in readiness. The surroundings were gay and enlivening as the accompanying steamers, crowded with spectators came hurrying to the scene. 03851SThere was undoubtedly a larger number of people witnessed the race on the previous day than had hitherto attended any of the contests, the general interest being of course centered in what was supposed to be the “wind up” of the series.

It was a glorious morning, bright, cheerful and breezy, and such as to indicate a pleasant day for all hands. Quietly riding at anchor lay the four vessels nominated by the committee as the competitors of the Livonia, and most noticeable of all was the gallant Columbia, which was deservedly saluted by enthusiastic cheers, from the crowds on the passing steamers. Other yachts were there besides, whose trim and saucy looks excited admiration, to wit the famous Little Magic, the Enchantress, Resolute, Tidal Wave, and scores of sloops whose extravagant bunting at once betokened symptoms of approaching festivities.

The Sappho was in a rather awkward position at the time the announcement of her selection was made, surrounded as she was, on all sides by craft of every possible description. By way of preface to her subsequent brilliant performance the Sappho dragged her anchor and was very near running into the Government dock, but by good management she avoided it. The Livonia lay at anchor nearest the shore, and having tossed for position, she remained where she was, on the weather side of her opponent. Anticipating a good stiff breeze she had her fore topmast snugly housed. All the preliminaries having been finally arranged, the colors were hauled down on the committee boat at 11h 16m a.m., as a signal to prepare, and five minutes after a shrill whistle advised the yachts to be off.

The tide was on the last of the ebb, the wind being nearly due west. Up went the jibs on both vessels with commendable rapidity. It was the desire of the committee to start the contestants as near together as possible, swinging to the south. Scarcely had the signal been given when the wind lulled. With remarkable good luck, the Livonia free and clear, took a nice flaw, went about to the northward, and filling away, and passed the stake boat in fine shape. The Sappho still hung on her anchor with her mainsail to windward. An effort was made to swing to the southward, so that she might pay off in that direction, but as the wind continued to be unfavorable to her movements, she finally let go the anchor, and, having paid off to the northward, stood on shore and went about. Meanwhile the Livonia had got a capital send-off being nearly three minutes ahead in the start and well settled to her work before the Sappho got fairly underway. The Livonia dispensed with her square-headed, and carried instead a jib-headed main topsail. On the Sappho were her working topsails, having also her staysail jib and jib-topsail, all of which filled beautifully as she went in hot haste after her opponent. 00282The spectacle was exceedingly effective, and, amid tremendous cheering, the competing vessels headed towards the Narrows. The Livonia had the lead of fully half a mile, and the question uppermost in the minds of the spectators was as to the exact point at which the Sappho would overhaul and pass her. And now the breeze began to freshen and as it did the excitement on the steamers increased. With rails under water the two yachts went like greyhounds, the appearance of both of them all the while eliciting expressions of decided gratification.

The Livonia passed Fort Richmond at 11h 27m a.m., and the Sappho about a minute and a half later, showing that she was overhauling her with rapid strides. Nothing could be more magnificent than the spectacle presented as the two vessels issued through the Narrows. It was evident that the Sappho was fast crawling up on her adversary, and at the same time eating to windward. The breeze increased, and once fairly clear of the land the race was really beautiful to behold. Approaching the West Bank the Sappho sailed gloriously, nor did the Livonia show any symptoms of surrendering, but on the contrary stood up splendidly, and to those unacquainted with the extraordinary prowess of the Sappho looked every inch like the winning craft. She was apparently resolved not to allow the Sappho to get to windward, and to that end kept close up, which probably retarded her speed. However the Sappho gained on her, creeping up on leeward quarter in gallant style. At 11h 45m a.m. the Livonia passed the hospital, the Sappho being barely half a minute astern. Six minutes later both vessels were abreast, and the Sappho finally shot past the Livonia. At 11h 46m, the Sappho passed the hospital ship Illinois, the Livonia being about half a minute astern. After an exciting race the vessels rounded the South-west Spit thus: Sappho 12h 15m 12s,Livonia 12h 16m 58s.

05418The scene at the turning of the buoy was very animating, the change of positions creating a general furor all round. The yachts with the wind nearly aft, now made for the lightship, the Livonia sending up her fore-topmast and setting both square topsails. Coming round the Hook the Sappho went wing and wing, her example being subsequently followed by the Livonia. The race to the lightship was devoid of interest, as the Sappho continued to gain rapidly, all chances of the Livonia being at an end. The wind moreover began to die out, and the vessels approached the lightship at a comparatively slow rate. All the steam boats had congregated in the vicinity of the turning point, awaiting the advent of the competing vessels, and as the Sappho approached ahead there was of course vociferous cheering and other congratulatory demonstrations. The following shows the time and order in which the yachts rounded the lightship: Sappho 1h 32m 58s, Livonia 1h 45m 22s.

Close hauled the vessels made for the South-west Spit in the return homeward. The Sappho was gaining all the time, and even now it was pretty clear that unless some unforseen accident should occur the Livonia was destined to be defeated in a very decisive manner. After stretching off to the southward the Sappho tacked at 1h 48 p.m., the Livonia going about shortly afterwards, pointing towards Coney Island, doubtless with the hope of catching the flood tide in that direction. Sappho Victorious by Shane CouchThe wind headed both vessels off for a time. At 2h 27m p.m. the Livonia tacked and seemed to have a nice breeze. A few minutes later the Sappho went about again, and having rounded the Hook, tacked at 2h 42m p.m. for the buoy which she subsequently fetched in good style. At this stage the Livonia was almost hull down. She went about at 2h 44m p.m. but was afterwards compelled to make two more tacks in order to weather the South-west Spit. As the Sappho turned it for home she was received with lively demonstrations from all quarters. The time recorded was thus : Sappho 3h 12m 14s, Livonia 3h 34m 30s.

With a fine whole sail breeze the Sappho sped along with marvelous rapidity, every inch of canvas swelling out in beautiful style. There was of course a considerable amount of rivalry among the accompanying steamers, but their highest pressure was of no avail in their attempts to overhaul the Sappho, as that vessel fairly ran away from them, and not until the wind died out somewhat did they show any signs of coming up with her. The Livonia was meanwhile making the best of her way home. The committee consisting of Mr. Moses H. Grinnell and Secretary Minton, left the Seth Low and proceeded to the mark-boat where they awaited the arrival of the yachts. After a splendid run through the Narrows the Sappho came in the winner by twenty five minutes and twenty seven seconds, finishing in the following order:03804S

This brought the series of international races to a close, the American yachts having won four out of the seven races proposed. Although the weather might have been more favorable during some portions of the day, the race was nevertheless calculated to test some of the finest qualities of both vessels, and it is impossible to deny that the Livonia has been fairly vanquished, but whether under all the circumstances connected with these contests it could be expected that a single vessel could command success is another question. In a fine sailing breeze the Livonia on one day was very fairly near the Columbia, and on another occasion actually defeated her, so that had the Columbia been the only combatant against the Livonia she might have had a fair chance of success, but to be pitted against the best fair weather American yacht and also against their best hard weather boat was rather hard lines. The way in which the cup is now guarded makes its redemption a still more difficult task than had been anticipated but “it would not surprise us,” from a little paragraph we have lately seen in a morning paper, that Mr. Ashbury should by next year be in a position to turn the tables on our cute cousins and give them a lesson in a third trial which we trust he will make.


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

THE QUEEN'S CUP. - Another Race Won by the Sappho and the Match Decided. Protest from Mr. Ashbury--He will Sail Over the Course Twice More--A Match with the Dauntless for a Fifty-Guinea Cup. - Article -