Category: 1920 : CHALLENGE N°13

Shamrock Wins Second Race by 2 MN 26 S.

Challenger, With Freak Jib, Holds Lead Over Resolute

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1920 - There was a fresh northwesterly breeze blowing at the rate of about eight miles an hour when the cup yachts cast off their moorings in Sandy Hook Bay shortly after ...

10 o'clock yesterday morning and started for Ambrose light vessel. The sky was cloudless and there was every indication at that time that the day was to be a perfect one for sailing. The defender was the first to get under way, and she was a thing of sparkling beauty as the sun flashed on her white hull and highly polished decks. When the tug James Dougherty took Resolute in tow she had her mainsail and club topsail set and her head sails in stops.

The mainsail was bent on early in the morning, after having spent Monday in George Ratsey's sail loft in City Island, where it was altered slightly. It was obvious that the big wing was setting better than it did on Saturday, when there appeared to be a tendency to sag along the leach. The crew was still working on the mainsail when Resolute was taken in tow.

Adams at the Wheel

Charles Francis Adams, amateur skipper of the Herreshoff queen, could be seen at the wheel wearing a sadly weather-beaten sweater and a pair of trousers that looked from a distance as though they had been designed for a clamming expedition rather than an international yacht race. He looked extremely businesslike, however, and was shouting orders to his men in deep sea phraseology that left no doubt as to what he wanted done.

The challenger, under jib, mainsail and club topsail, followed the American boat out to the course, being towed by the doughty little tug Governor Smith. The Smith flies the hurgee of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club with all the aplomb of a million-dollar flagship.

Shamrock was escorted out of the Horseshoe by a large fleet of pleasure craft, but it was evident that curiosity was the motive for clustering about the big green cup hunter. Those on board wore anxious to find out who was at the wheel and whether Mrs. Burton was still occupying her post as timer in the afterguard. There was an early morning rumor that Captain Burton and his wife had severed their connection with the challenger, but a close inspection of the yacht as she started for the cup course yesterday revealed the dapper Englishman at the helm and his official timer seated nearby in the boat's tiny cockpit.

Victoria Is Greeted

On the way to the line the Governor Smith was kept busy answering round after round of salutes. The Victoria with Sir Thomas Lipton and more than 150 guests aboard, followed the Shamrock out to sea and was herself the recipient of a very noisy greeting. At her truck she flew a large flag bearing the Red Hand of Ulster, insignia of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club. Sir Thomas could be seen on the bridge watching through long binoculars every move "his girl" made as she headed out through the early morning haze.

Both Captain and Mrs. Burton appeared to be in excellent spirits as they talked and joked with other members of the yacht's afterguard. Mrs. Burton was dressed in a natty blue yachting suit and straw hat. When the destroyer Semmes shot past and blew the British racer a deafening salute Mrs. Burton was seen to wave her handkerchief in reply.

There, were few vessels gathered about the line yesterday, compared with the huge fleet that watched the start of Thursday's and Saturday's contests.

Sloops Cast Off Tows

The sloops cast off their tows at 11:20 o'clock and Resolute immediately broke out her head-sails. It was noticeable that when this order was given her stay-sail and jib flashed into the sunlight in the twinkling of an eye, while sail handling on the challenger appeared to be sluggish and clumsy.

Shortly before the preparatory signal was to have been given a flag was hoisted on the committee boat Baryton indicating a postponement of fifteen minutes. This was done to permit revenue cutters to clear the course of scores of small yachts that were directly in the path of the racers. This made the starting hour 12:15 instead of noon.

The signals for a triangular course were raised on the Baryton, indicating that the first leg was to be to the south southeast, the second west by north and the third northeast by north. This placed the first mark almost straight out to sea from Elberon, while the second leg carried the cup contenders to a stake anchored off Long Branch. The third leg was a run straight up the shore lino to Ambrose Lightship. Each leg constituted ten nautical miles. The atmosphere had cleared to such an extent by the time the boats came down to make the turn off Long Branch that every move they made was visible from shore without the use of glasses.

Wind Drops Considerably

The wind had dropped considerably by the time the preparatory signal was set at noon, and the indications were than real Resolute weather would prevail throughout the race. This turned out to be the case, but it benefited the English boat rather than the American.

The jockeying for the start was not as sharp and brilliant as in the former meetings of the international rivals. Burton did not appear to be at all nervous, as many expected he would be inasmuch as his reputation as England's greatest Corinthian was at stake in this one event. He cruised about in two long hitches on the westerly side of the line, and Adams seemed content to let him set the pace and keep the Resolute in the challenger's wake.

Spectators remarked they had never seen Adams handle a boat in a duel for position the way he handled the Resolute before yesterday's race. He adopted methods that were entirely new to him, seeming to care little whether Burton seized the vantage point of the line or not. Adams had an opportunity to go over in the windward berth, but he ignored it and appeared to be so confident of his boat-for-boat superiority, and perhaps skipper-for-skipper superiority over his rival, that the start was of no importance.


The result was that Burton had everything his own way and slid over the line as he pleased. He led Resolute across by thirty-eight seconds. This extended Resolute's time allowance, with her handicap of seven minutes and one second, to seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds, which is the largest ever given to a cup yacht. It wasn't great enough yesterday to give the decision to the Herreshoff creation.

It was before the red ball was lowered on the Baryton, indicating that the challenger had started, that Captain Burton had a mishap that cost him his thirty-eight seconds lead before the race had been in progress for ten minutes. Had it not been for this one stroke of misfortune it is doubtful whether Resolute would have had the lead at any time from the start to the finish.

Before Shamrock had paused over the line she started to set her balloon jib, but she got the huge rail only half way up when the stops refused to give and the canvas was jammed, with the lower part fluttering wildly in the wind. The foremast hands could be seen to be struggling frantically to set the big wing, but their efforts were in vain. The fouled ballooner took the wind out of the staysail and jib, which had not been lowered, and the entire head sail arrangement seemed to be inextricably tangled.

Burton Wins Over Critics

Captain William P. Burton, the amateur skipper of Shamrock, whose seamanship was derided by all the experts after Saturday's race, sailed the British sloop to victory yesterday. His wife sat beside him in the cockpit and shared the triumph of her husband as a member of the crew. Sir Thomas Lipton, owner of Shamrock, whose heart's desire is the winning of the cup, gambled upon the ability of his skipper in spit of the fact that the experts to a man had challenged his competency, and Lipton's luck won. Or was it Lipton's shrewd judgment of men?

The rush of the crew to the bow in a frenzied effort to straighten out the mess pushed the challenger's blunt nose down, and she soon lost all her headway and almost came to a dead stop. Meanwhile Resolute had broken out her ballooner and, as usual, it filled perfectly and she began to foot fast.

She quickly moved up abeam of the challenger and in a few minutes was far in the lead. At this stage of the proceedings it looked like a runaway race for the American.

When it became apparent that the fouled ballooner could not be set without first being taken in altogether Burton broke out his spinnaker. This sail didn't set well and appeared to only add to the general confusion up forward. By this time Resolute had opened up a lead of more than a quarter of a mile, her balloon, mainsail and club topsail all drawing perfectly.

Captain Burton appeared to be desperate, and he ordered the spinnaker taken in, and he did something right here entirely unheard of in yacht racing, and many experts who saw yesterday's race believe that Shamrock's clean-cut victory can be attributed to it.

With all hope of setting the ballooner abandoned, Captain Burton broke out a freak staysail that looked like a leg-o'-mutton rig stolen from a Down East fisherman. It set on a stay from the end of the bowsprit to a point about ten feet below the spreaders. Its top left a large space between it and the foot of the No. 1 jib topsail that had been set.


Freak Rig Is Surprise

Experts who saw the freak rig were astounded and immediately predicted Burton's finish. Local yachtsmen declared they had never seen anything like it before and were at a loss to give it a name. They finally dubbed it a ukelele staysail, but a veteran from Marblehead who had come all the way down to Ambrose Channel to see Charley Adams give the Englishman his "come-uppance" said it was a fiddler's jib.

Fiddler's jib or ukelele staysail, the thing Burton used in his acute emergence yesterday produced marvelous results and probably proved of more real value than the cranky ballooner. Just when it seemed certain that she was out of the running for the day the challenger began to gather head way rapidly and in a few minutes was in full pursuit of the fleeing Resolute.

The Britisher's gain in this first leg which was a broad reach, was due largely to the fickleness of the wind which had fallen a great deal and was blowing in fitful and wandering puffs. Burton got all the best of these, as Adams had on Saturday, and they permitted him to pass Resolute at 1:01 o'clock, and he soon established a comfortable lead.

The breeze was dying rapidly, and by the time the cup contenders were half way to the first mark they were practically in the doldrums. They could hardly have selected a more uncomfortable spot to flounder in, as this particular part of the Atlantic Ocean is the dumping ground for the City of New York. Garbage and ill-smelling refuse covered the surface of the sea for miles around, and the crews of both yacht had to content themselves with holding their noses and watching their useless sails flapping dismally.

Undoing of Resolute

The Corsair, with J. P. Morgan aboard, stood a short distance beyond the mark and for the first time was of some real assistance as a guide boat. It is the belief of many experts that this first leg was the undoing of Resolute. Adams could not master the mystery of the winds, while his opponent seemed able to find the breeze without half trying. the feathery zephyrs that shunned the American seemed to hurry to Burton to strum a song of victory on his ukelele staysail. When half the distance to the first turn had been covered Shamrock was a half mile in the lead and doing marvelous things with the catspaws of wind that came to her.

Scores of pleasure craft had gathered at the first turn, and all began blowing their whistles as the green tea clipper approached. Whether this was meant as applause for the leading Lipton craft or as encouragement to the trailing Resolute was rather uncertain.

Both sloops gibed at 2 o'clock, and Shamrock, after running somewhat to leeward of the stake, rounded it at 2:28:28, having gained three minutes and thirty seconds on the defender. Resolute, with hardly enough breeze to give her steerage way, rounded at 2.33:41.

The little breeze that there was kept fading out, and at this time there was little prospect of either yacht finishing within the time limit of six hours. The contest was beginning to look like a repetition of Saturday's windless fiasco.

Wind Benefits Shamrock

Burton set a stay-sail, jib and baby jib topsail for the reach to the second mark, while Resolute replaced her ballooner with a stay-sail and reaching jib. The wind revived a little at the start of the second leg, apparently for Burton's sole benefit. This added materially to his lead, and at one time he was nearly a mile and a half ahead of the defender. The wind soon died out again, however, and for nearly an hour the yachts were absolutely becalmed. When the wind did come back it was from the southwest, and showed every indication of freshening rapidly.

The first signs of the returning breeze began to ruffle the looking glass sea at 3:05. At this time the yachts were still a long way from the second stake. The new breeze not only favored Shamrock with its undivided attention, but also with its direction, which eliminated windward work, in which Resolute shows to advantage and she does not.

Shamrock was healing under the edge of this embryo blow, while the defender was still wallowing in the doldrums. It was here that Burton made the most brilliant gain of the entire day in the last rush of the second turn. At 3:10 he tacked to make the mark and was still flying along, while Resolute remained almost stationary. When the breeze reached Adams he also tacked, but at this time his boat seemed hopelessly beaten.

Closing Mile Spectacular

The closing mile of the second leg developed spectacular work on the part of both sloops. The wind was freshening rapidly and the two racers closed on the turn in a great burst of speed. This was the only time during the entire contest that the wind was strong enough to give either boat a list. Shamrock rounded the mark at 4:26:29 and Resolute at 4:35:36, the challenger having gained four minutes and 54 seconds. This gave her a lead of more than nine minutes.

The green sloop ran close to the mark and rounded it in good shape, but there followed immediately afterward an exhibition of sail handling that would have made a schoolboy blush. The jib was let go and for more than ten minutes the crew floundered about trying to break out the ballooner. There seemed to be uncertainty on the part of the afterguard as to just what sail should be used and when it was finally decided to set the ballooner the crew appeared to bungle the work. It was after 4:40 when the sail finally was broken out and by this time the Britisher had lost much valuable time and most of her headway.

When the sail fluttered into the wind it was seen to be torn at the clew, and I the rent grew larger as the pressure of the wind increased. The canvas soon proved to be of no assistance and was doused when the challenger had covered about half of the run to the finish line. Burton unleashed his spinnaker on the port side at 4:45. and this huge wing seemed to give the boat a lot of power. During the run to the lightship Shamrock's men were marshaled aft to keep her rose out of the heavy ground swell that was running.

Breeze Came Too Late

The same fleet of yachts that had gathered at the first turn were spread out fan-shape at the second when the challenger went about and they gave her a salute that could be heard all the way to the finish line. Resolute also drew an encouraging round of toots as she rounded and started the reach for home with her ballooner set.

The vastly superior seamanship of Resolute's foremast hands was never so clearly demonstrated as when she went around the second turn. It must have been painfully apparent to Shamrock's afterguard.

There was no lingering hesitancy or prolonged delay in breaking out the American baloon. That sail was up in stops before the boat reached the turn and let go her staysail and jib. The big balloon was flashed to the wind in something less than ten seconds.

Resolute found a breeze in the final leg. but it came too late. She footed fast and made the best of it, but it did not remain with her long as she tried a tack to leeward. Shamrock sailed a straight course to the mark and gained nearly a minute on the run.

The blunt nose of Shamrock IV pushed past the red and white Ambrose Lightship Relief yesterday in a light breeze 9 minutes and 27 seconds by actual time before the trim prow of the defender Resolute came by the mark, winning the second race of the series for the America's Cup. With all time allowances deducted, Shamrock won the race by 2 minutes and 26 seconds.

The yachts will race again to-day over a 30-mile windward and leeward course and if Shamrock wins it means that the famous tankard, won by the old America in 1851, will depart for whence it came.