Category: 1930 : CHALLENGE N°14

Enterprise (left) and Shamrock V forty seconds before start of first race2 MINUTES, 52 SECONDS LEAD


NEWPORT, R.I., Sept. 13.-- Enterprise, the yacht sailed by Harold Vanderbilt, rode triumphant over thirty miles this afternoon and defeated Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock V in the first race of the America's Cup series.

A pandemonium of whistles, bells and cheers sounded over an international net work of radio stations yesterday when the Enterprise, America's defending yacht, crossed the finish line off Newport, R.I., ahead of the Shamrock V in the first of the races for the America's Cup.



Newport harbor was literally alive with boats. In all its history, such a fleet had never been assembled there. There were boats of every kind and description, and from all parts of the country. Large yachts, small yachts, Diesel yachts, auxiliary sailing yachts, power boats, house boats, motor launches. The smaller ones filled the inner harbor and Brenton Cove to capacity, the larger ones and several big excursion steamers from New York and Boston were anchored outside Goat Island. Farther up the bay, a Coast Guard fleet consisting of eight or ten revenue cutters, a number of destroyers and countless smaller craft was assembled. It was its duty to patrol the course and keep it clear for the contestants.

The Coast Guard issued explicit printed orders and directions to all boats attending the races. The orders required the sightseeing fleet to keep outside the patrol lines, and explained the maneuvers which the Coast Guard and its flock would execute. One set of evolutions was prescribed for a windward and leeward race, another for a triangular race. The instructions had been carefully prepared and the Coast Guard saw to it that they were carried out and obeyed to the letter.

Waiting for the wind

Part of the fleet following the first raceWeather conditions on Saturday morning, September 13, were anything but auspicious. There was no wind, it was distinctly hazy, almost foggy, the sky was overcast and gray, and it looked as if it might rain at any moment. There was every indication that it would be impossible to start a race or to finish one within the time limit.

Shamrock V was first under way at 9:30 a.m., and Enterprise followed her out of the harbor 5 minutes later. On account of the threatening rain, both boats towed out to the start and neither made sail or even took the covers off until long after the arrival at the line.

Soon after the competing yachts arrived at the starting line, the Race Committee hoisted the postponement flag owing to lack of wind. Both yachts were lying close to the America's Cup buoy under tow of their tenders. Nearby the Race Committee tug and the tug carrying the marks also waited, the former for wind, the latter for orders. The visibility, while bad, was good enough to enable to see the huge sightseeing fleet which surrounded the start zone on all sides and which was gradually being herded away from the line by the smaller units of the Coast Guard flotilla. It was a pity that the sun was not shining; too bad that there was not a nice breeze blowing; a shame to disappoint the thousands who had journeyed many miles to see this race; for it certainly looked as if they were doomed to disappointment.

But, as is often the case, appearances were deceptive, for suddenly, unexpectedly, after waiting for over an hour, a northerly breeze of 9-knots' strength struck in. Inside of five minutes the course signals for a leeward and windward race were up, with the postponement still flying.

Enterprise (left) and Shamrock V forty seconds before start of first raceReady for the start

Instantly the racers became beehives of activity. Shamrock V was the nearer ready of the two. She had to uncover and hoist her mainsail, break out her jib and staysail and get her light sails ready. Enterprise had the following additional tasks to perform: hoist the jib (sent below to keep dry), uncover and hoist the staysail, and fit the slides on the mainsail to the mast track. The start, a leeward one, was but 21 minutes off.

The Race Committee was acting within its instructions, but in view of conditions it had not allowed the boats any too much time. While the mainsails were being hoisted, the yachts were towed slowly, side by side, into the wind and away from the starting line. Enterprise's mainsail was ready 8 minutes before the start and about a minute later than Shamrock V’s. As soon as the Challenger was ready she broke out her jib and staysail, let go her tow line and sailed slowly back toward the starting line, then dead to leeward. This maneuver deprived her of any chance of getting the best start. Enterprise held on to her tow line until 30 seconds before the preparatory signal (the Racing Rules prohibit towing after the preparatory) and, with Bystander ahead and running wide open, got back to the line just before the preparatory. This gave her 5 minutes to maneuver with wind abeam, which in turn enabled her to have full headway at the start. It was impossible for Shamrock V, with the light breeze on her quarter, to gather full headway. After letting go her towboat, Enterprise sailed away from the line on the port tack and with 3 minutes to go tacked to starboard. Forty-five seconds before the start she broke out her ballooner, Shamrock V following suit. Shortly afterward Enterprise crossed the Challenger's bow and started over a length ahead of her and just to windward.Enterprise vs Shamrock V - Stephen J. Renard Shamrock V immediately bore off before the wind and broke out a large spinnaker. Enterprise used a small spinnaker, which she did not break out until after Shamrock V's was set; she delayed purposely to prevent any possibility of luffing across her stern to get her wind.

The first leg

At first Enterprise drew rapidly away and soon opened up a lead of several hundred yards. She was sailing a little higher and her small spinnaker was doing good work. Meanwhile she was getting closer and closer to the division of the sightseeing fleet on her starboard beam and quarter. It was evident that several large steamers would soon be cutting her wind, if they were not already affecting it — apparently the Coast Guard had not anticipated that the racers would tack to leeward. Enterprise was forced to bear away almost before the wind, on which point of sailing Shamrock V's large spinnaker was more effective than the small one of Enterprise. She began to gain at once and presently crept up on the Enterprise's lee quarter, cutting her lead to a length.

By this time the Coast Guard had shepherded the fleet farther away; Enterprise again luffed out and at once drew away from Shamrock V, which continued to sail nearly before the wind. After she had run her distance on the starboard tack, Enterprise jibed over, the Challenger following suit about 4 minutes later. The defender set a spinnaker to port, but soon took it in because the wind hauled more to the eastward. At this time Shamrock V was sailing in wake' rival a quarter of a mile astern.

Enterprise (left) homeward bound, passing Shamrock V outward bound, in the first race

Harold S. Vanderbilt speaks :

Our navigator, Winthrop Aldrich, assured us that the mark was to windward, but we could not sail any higher and make our large ballooner draw, and were loath to take it in and luff out to windward of the Challenger. Presently we picked up the mark broad on the weather bow. It was less than two miles off, but owing to poor visibility we had been unable to see it sooner.
"Break out the jib, hoist the staysail, take in the ballooner, set the No. 2 jib topsail (light), trim the main sheet."

In a moment all hands were at work and we were sailing fairly close to the wind. Shamrock V, seeing us luff, obviously for the mark, luffed also, cut off a corner and gained somewhat before we jibed around.

"ENTERPRISE" WINNING THE FIRST AMERICA'S CUP RACE - The photograph was taken from the Race Committee tug (on left). The second leg

A minute after rounding Enterprise passed to windward of and close aboard of the outward-bound Challenger (see photograph up). Enterprise could lay the course for the finish easily owing to the shift of wind. However, Shamrock V elected to sail full and by about two points above the course, and the defender followed suit, keeping between her and the finish line.

The relative positions of the two boats did not change materially on this leg. Enterprise had to make two short hitches just before crossing the line, while Shamrock V, getting the final shift farther away from the finish, was just able to fetch without tacking.

RACE 1 - SEPTEMBER 13 - 15 miles to windward and return
1 Enterprise 12:55 4:58:48 2:08:19 1:55:29 4:03:48  
2 Shamrock V 12:55 5:01:40 2:10:15 1:56:25 4:06:40 2' 52"


The conclusion of Harold S. Vanderbilt:

"After the finish, Shamrock V sailed down to us and, in accordance with the English custom, gave us three cheers, which we returned in kind. The race had proved to be rather tame and uninteresting. We had been unable to note any appreciable difference in the speed of the two boats and felt that we had won by tacking down wind. There had been no opportunity to find out anything about the relative merits of the contestants to windward. It seemed, from what we had seen on the first day, that superiority on that point of sailing would decide the issue."