Catégorie : 1881 : DEFI N°4


The first race of the America's cup resulted in a decisive defeat of the Atalanta. Both the Gracie and the Mischief beat her badly, the former 31m 17¼s, time allowance (7:41) deducted, and the latter 23m 30¼s. In fact, before one-quarter of the course has been sailed over the Atalanta was a hopelessly...

beaten boat, and the interest in the race was centered altogether on the contest between the Gracie and the Mischief.

A pelting rain was falling and a heavy fog hung over the Bay when the tug E. Luckenbach, having on board the Regatta Committee of the New-York Yacht Club, cast off from Pier No. 3 East River, at 9:30 o'clock yesterday, and steamed down for Staten Island. 00517S1The fog lifted, however, before the tug reached the ferry dock at Tompkinsville, and as there was a strong, steady, south-west wind blowing all doubts of the race being sailed were removed. As the tug approached the dock, the Mischief, which was lying a short distance below, weighed anchor and got under way, carrying in addition to her mainsail her working topsail and big jib. The Atalanta was lying off stapleton at anchor with mainsail and sprit topsail set. The Gracie was descried near the Bay Ridge shore coming down in tow of a tug. The schooner yachts Tidal Wave and Norseman, which were at anchor between Tompkinsville and Stapleton, began about this time to set sails, and the steam yacht Ideal to weigh anchor. The iron steam-boat Sirius, with an excursion party on board, was steaming down the stream, and several tug-boats were hovering around to see the start.

About 10:30 o’clock, before the yachts were ready to start, black clouds loomed up over the Staten Island hills, and threatened a severe squall. The Atalanta people took alarm at once, and began to reef in their mainsail, and the Mischief, which had come back after running some distance downstream, cast anchor opposite the Seawanhaka Club house, clewed down her topsail, and also began to reef in her mainsail. The Gracie came to anchor, but did not shorten sail. 00327S1The squall ended in a heavy shower of rain, but not much wind, and the Atalanta soon set her sprit topsail over her reefed mainsail. The Atalanta had hardly got under way before she was struck by a flaw and heeled until her rail dipped. Then down came her topsail.

The starting signal was given at 11:11, and the boats were required to cross the line within 5 minutes. There was a little maneuvering at first for the best position, both boats coming down to the verge of the line and then veering away and coming about. The Mischief having obtained what she regarded as a favorable position, bore down and crossed the line under good headway at 11:14:50. The Atalanta crossed at 11:15:51. As the Mischief was compelled to give the Atalanta 2 minutes 45 seconds time allowance, it was necessary after this start for her to finish more than 3 minutes 46 seconds ahead in order to win. But the doubt was entertained by most of those who saw the two boats going down the Narrows that the Mischief would have time enough to spare at the finish. Mr. Richard S. Bell was on board the Mischief to represent the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club, and Mr. Henry Steers sailed on the Atalanta for the New York Yacht Club.

The Gracie having held back to give the other boats a start equal to their full time allowance, finally crossed the line at 11:25, and began one of the finest races ever seen in New York harbor. Her time allowance to the Mischief was 4:56, and to the Atalanta 7:41. She carried her working topsail, staysail, and jib, the Atalanta having one reef in her mainsail. The favorite of the America’s Cup Committee was well down in the Lower Bay when the Gracie crossed the line: but before the hospital ship was reached the latter was close on her heels, and the Atalanta was practically out of the race. The Mischief meanwhile had set her working topsail, and the Atalanta had followed suit, but she proved too tender for it, and the sail was taken in again. 02315S1The Gracie having run down abreast of the Atalanta, keeping, however, to the leeward, went about at 12 o’clock, and made to the westward on the port tack. It would have been easy enough for her to cross the Atalanta’s bow, but she veered off and passed her astern. The Atalanta soon after made an attempt to set her jib topsail, but it did not work well and was taken in. Indeed, all through the race her sails were badly handled.

The tide was on the last of the flood when the race began, but now a strong ebb was sweeping out of Princess’ Bay and carrying both the Mischief and Atalanta so far to the leeward that it would be impossible for them to fetch buoy No. 10 without tacking. The Mischief perceived this and went about soon after the Gracie, but the Atalanta held on her course and lost several minutes thereby. The Gracie also lost a little by going further than she need have done on the port tack, but this was evidently done to avoid embarrassing the Mischief. The yachts rounded the buoy as follows: Mischief, 12:33:12; Gracie, 12:37:02. The Gracie was only 3 minutes 50 seconds behind, and had, therefore, gained 6 minutes 20 seconds in about 10 miles. The Atalanta rounded the buoy at 12:45:27. The other boats were then outside of the Hook.
From this time, no farther interest was taken in the race so far as the Atalanta was concerned, but speculation ran high as to how much the Gracie would beat the Mischief.00327S1 There was a good deal of sea running outside, and the yachts dipped their bowsprits from time to time. The Gracie took in her balloon jib and the Mischief in her balloon jib topsail some time before they reached the Scotland Lightship. The Atalanta had set her topsail and jib-topsail soon after passing buoy No 8½ but took in both rather hastily when she got outside the Hook. The Mischief rounded the lightship at 1:25:25 and the Gracie at 1:27:19, having made a further gain of 2 minutes 6 seconds on the run out from the buoy. The Atalanta rounded at 1:38:14. She had lost about 1 minute against the Mischief and 3 minutes against the Gracie from buoy No 10.

On the run back the Gracie outfooted the Mischief very rapidly, and passed her out the Scotland Lightship, but went considerably to leeward in order to keep out of her way. Both yachts had to beat from buoy No 5½ on the point of the Hook to buoy 8½ inside the Horseshoe. The Mischief, being to the windward, had the advantage, and was enabled to round buoy No 10 slightly ahead, but coming up with a beam wind, the Gracie passed her to the leeward, and, after reaching far enough ahead not to interfere, luffed across her bow and took the windward position. This feat was greeted by the steamers and private tugs which were following the yachts, with prolonged whistling. The Gracie finished about a quarter of a mile and 1 minute 13 seconds ahead of the Mischief. She went over the course in 4:05:16, the quickest time on record. This was conceded on all sides to be a very remarkable performance, especially has she had to sail what in yachting parlance is known as a “leeward race”, that is, she had to keep to the leeward of the other boats to avoid interfering with them, and thereby lost several minutes. When the Mischief finished the Atalanta was “still down” in the Lower Bay.
Following is the official record of the race:

The summary :

It may be said for the Atalanta that, although she was badly beaten by both yachts, she made fair time over the course, and did very well for a new and untried boat, with an inefficient crew.