Category: 1920 : CHALLENGE N°13



SUNDAY, JULY 25, 1920 - A twenty-five knot southwester that kicked up a rather riotous sea and made club topsails things to be left ...

... at home caused the race committee of the New York Yacht Club and the skippers of Shamrock IV and Resolute to postpone yesterday the fifth and deciding America's Cup race until to-morrow. The two slim sloops and the committee boat Baryton got as far as Ambrose Lightship yesterday morning when one look at the white capped course caused all hands to agree that it was no day for the dignified 75-footers to mingle with the jubilant Atlantic.

The committee boat hoisted a signal asking the opposing skippers whether they would like to call it a day. Both yachts flashed back that they would be delighted, or signals to that effect.

Back to Harbor

The decision to postpone the race until Monday was then reached and cast in the teeth of the sizzling southwester, while the yachts and committee boat turned tail and scuttled back to the protected waters of Sandy Hook Bay.

The postponement came as a bitter surprise to a great fleet of ships carrying spectators who had made the long trip to the light vessel to witness this history making event. Many of them apparently could not believe that the yachts had actually quit, and cruised about the starting line for hours after the racers had sought the safety of Sandy Hook's encircling arm.

To those who had gathered about the pitching lightship to see the start of the big international struggle it seemed as though the wind was exactly the one the managers of the contending cup yachts have been wishing for during the last two weeks. It was certainly the first real wind they have encountered since the cup series began and would have put skippers, crews and yachts to the acid test.

Sir Thomas Lipton wanted to see his Shamrock race the Resolute yesterday despite the tearing wind and heavy seas, and he was greatly surprised when the Committee boat at noon signaled that the race was postponed and the two racers came about and made for Sandy Hook.




TUESDAY, JULY 27, 1920

Defender Outfoots Shamrock in Drifting Contest Through Lazy Sea

The final race for the America's Cup, which was called off on Saturday, because there was too much wind, was called off yesterday because there was no wind at all. It will be decided to-day. In a drifting match on an oily, smooth sea, with scarcely the whisper of a breeze. Resolute and Shamrock glided languidly through the sheen of the lazy sun-lit sea for four hours and a half.

Sometimes in a dead still calm they lay like twin replicas of Coleridge's painted ship upon a painted ocean. Or one might use the contemptuous metaphor of the boatswain's mate of the destroyer Semmes, as he sunned himself on the forecastle head, "two big sea cooties crawling around on a pane of glass."

Shamrock Crosses First

There was less than a four-knot breeze when the racers started half an hour late. Shamrock crossed the line first and maintained her lead until she glided into the doldrums off the Jersey Highlands at 2 o'clock. Resolute came up and passed her while her spread of canvas flapped idly. Then the drifting began, and Resolute, which has out-footed Shamrock against the wind and with it, demonstrated that she could out-foot the challenger in the matter of drifting.

When the race was called for the day, Resolute was hardly within five miles of the mark, while Shamrock was two miles astern. Whatever breeze there might have been Captain Charles Francis Adams seemed to find and hold, and Resolute moved ahead with painful sluggishness, but moved.

Gave the Wind a Chance

The regatta committee was faced with a problem at the scheduled starting time. The course called for the beat to windward and return and the wind was coming off the Jersey shore what there was of it. To carry out the conditions of the race the committee would have to shift either New Jersey or the wind. The shifting of New Jersey seemed to be too much of a problem, and it was decided to wait and give the wind a chance to be obliging.

Finally the sloops were sent off in a light northerly breeze and headed away to the familiar Jersey coast. The challenger glided over the line at twenty nine seconds past the half hour and the Resolute followed just sixty-eight seconds later. The challenger maintained her lead until the breeze died suddenly, and as her huge sails started to flap Resolute came on and glided past her, Captain Charles Francis Adams clinging to the last to the gauzy skirts of the zephyrs.

The rest was watchful waiting of the sort that was displayed when Shamrock won the race over the triangular course. On that day, while Resolute was caught in the doldrums, Shamrock, with her ridiculous "fiddler's jib," caught the edge of a breeze and moved on, while the defender lay becalmed.

Resolute Out-luffs Shamrock

But there was not a ripple on that smooth sheen outside the Ambrose Channel yesterday. The smoke from the lolling steam vessels that loafed alongside the course pointed straight upward. Resolute moved in the lightest of zephyrs, while Shamrock seemed to fall behind, idle as the bits of drift from all the world that washed along side.
Technically, it was a luffing contest while it lasted, but the landsmen caught it as a loafing contest and let it go at that. The skipper of Resolute out-luffed Shamrock, while Shamrock out-loafed Resolute and the expert waxed bitter over the lost opportunity of Saturday, when there was a real wind and lively water, conditions that would have made this last race a real salt sea drama.

The attendant fleet was much smaller yesterday. The fight for the America's Cup seems to have drifted into an anticlimax as far as the interest of the layman is concerned. The John F. Hylan bobbed out to display polite official interest. The Iron Steamboat and the Fall River liner carrying a languid crowd of sightseers still followed, but the little yachts were far less numerous than they have been any day since the races began.

May Not Finish To-day

The drifting pace became so intolerably slow that the steam vessel had to back time and again as the racers loafed off the Jersey coast. At 4 o'clock it became fairly certain that there would be no race, but the drifting contest was not called off until after 5 o'clock. By that time the yacht had traveled about ten of the thirty miles, with the mark still hidden in the heat haze somewhere near the Corsair. which loafed on the horizon.

Before the start Shamrock twice turned around the Victoria, where Sir Thomas Lipton looked her over from the bridge. A seaplane fluttered down beside Sir Thomas's floating headquarters and lay there, hardly moving on the languid sea. The little fleet or attendant boats lay cluttered up like toy boats in a pond. It did not look like a propitious start for the climax of the quest of the America's Cup.