Tuesday, October 1, 2013

U.S. Charges Back to Win America’s Cup!

Looking at the title above, you would be justified in thinking this was about the miraculous comeback of Oracle Team USA in beating New Zealand in San Francisco recently. The truth is that it relates to the 1920 America’s Cup race that took place off of New York.

Sir Thomas Lipton challenged the New York Yacht Club for the fourth time and brought his SHAMROCK IV across the pond in 1914 for a scheduled September race. While in transit, SHAMROCK IV learned of Germany’s declaration that began the First World War, thus postponing the race until July of 1920. Leaving the boat to sit six years in a cradle in New York did not deter Lipton from continuing his quest after the War was finished.

The American boat, RESOLUTE, was skippered by Charles Francis Adams, the great-great grandson of President John Adams. Adams was hailed as America’s best sailor in 1920 and took on the challenge of defending the Cup. And he did…..just barely.

For the first and only time in his five challenges, Sir Thomas’ boat won a race. And then he won the second race in the best of five challenge. And all of a sudden the Americans were one race away from losing the Cup. Thanks to the handicap rule then in place, and Adams’ experience at the helm, RESOLUTE came back to win the final three races to keep the America’s Cup at home in the New York Yacht Club.

NYYC certificate honoring Charles Francis Adams as the successful skipper of the 
1920 America'sCup challenge. HFM 7. G.W Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport.
The picture shown is of a certificate in Mystic Seaport’s collection. The exquisite document praises Adams as the club member who had “such unusual qualities and nautical skills as top accomplish this difficult defense with unqualified satisfaction to both Club and Country.” Lipton would challenge one more time in 1930, but would go home once again without the “Auld Mug.” Click on the image to read the entire document.