I had the great privilege to sail “Columbia” the first twelve meter to defend the America’s Cup in 1958. at the America’s Cup Jubilee. There were 38 twelve meters there. This was a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the America’s Cup.
The idea of the Royal Yacht Squadron, from my prospective it exceeded all expectations. It was an endless parade of yachts each more beautiful and graceful the the next.
A tradition of restricted male only membership dating back almost 200 years has been swept aside by the Royal Yacht Squadron on the Isle of Wight after the membership voted to allow women in as full members
Sign of the times: After 198 years Royal Yacht Squadron votes to allow women as full members
A meeting on Sunday, attended by 150 of the 475 members, voted unanimously in favour of the motion to extend membership privileges to women. There was not a single vote in opposition though the decision still has to be ratified by the full membership.
Officials at the Squadron, which is housed in a grand castle in Cowes and billed as one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world, said they had been lobbying members on the issue of women’s membership for four years before yesterday’s ballot.
There was no announcement from the RYS which established their ‘gentlemen only’ membership in 1815 when the club was founded and the club declined to comment.
Even lady associate members, the wives of existing full members, who were not eligible to vote, were unaware of this dramatic change of policy.
RYS invites candidates to join but the only known criteria for membership is an active interest in sailing.
With each new challenge the design race increased. “Constellation” the newest Sparkman&Stephens design was only second best entering the August trails. “American Eagle” the Bill Luders design and build, was up 21 and zero, appearing unbeatable and in the difficult position of not having lost a race; not knowing what if anything to change. Eric Ridder stepped aside as skipper of “Connie”being replaced by Bob Bavier. Along with a few other changes and she went on to be selected to defend. Leaving Bill Cox the skipper of “American Eagle” stunned. The American trials were the highlight of the summer, the English challenger “Sovereign” was hopelessly outclassed. Olin Stephens, I believed, liked to make small incremental changes, As the season of 1967 would show; “Constellation” exhibited some of the genes that would become “Intrepid”. The energy and enthusiasm ratcheted up with each challenge. The world was emerging from World War II, coupled with that was the easing of Taxes on the rich. America was truly on top of the world; and feeling that way. There are more stories connected with the summer of 1964 and this challenge deserves more time.
Sceptre, sail number k 17, was the Royal Yacht Squadron’s challenger, built in Scotland, designed by David Boyd. launched in April 0f 1958.
Despite her results against Columbia, the American defender, she demonstrated many clever ideas. As is often the case, good ideas are overlooked, regardless of how good they might be, if the end result is not a winning outcome.
Another example the comes to mind is “Independence” designed in 1901 by B.B. Crowninshield for Thomas W. Lawson. The story is complicated, the point here is that she had many very innovative ideas that were clearly not lost on Nat Herreshoff, as his next design for a defender incorporated these ideas.
Columbia, was better sailed and had better sails
These photographs os “Sceptre” I took in 1975, somewhere along the south coast of England.
The photo is the Yacht America, taken in Newport, RI sometime before world war II. She was probably on her way to the Naval Academy in Annapolis where she met her end. The photo was taken by a friend of the family from a rowboat.
The newspaper article is from September 20, 1851 recounting the race between the “America” and “Titania”
The 2005 trans-atlantic race from New york to Cowes, England,aboard “Tempest” the 80 foot S&S ketch provided an opportunity to sail on the ocean and to photograph nature and each other during the 15 day passage. I have written previously about the race. I only just found the photographs sent to me by Christian Jensen, who was also part of the crew.
We are probably sailing along at 17 knots in a 120,000 pound boat; dragging a lot of water. The porpoises loved our wake.
The Royal Yacht Squadron was founded in June 1815; long considered the most prestigious yacht club, perhaps in the world.
Some years ago, I bought at auction two volumes pictured here, “Burnets Own Times” 1838. Opening the front cover I found a do not take label. I contacted the RYS librarian concerning these tombs. The response was one wondering how it could be that I might have possession of these books. A tone I initially interpreted as accusatory . I recovered from this thought and in 2005 at the finish of the Trans-atlantic race co-hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron , I returned the books to the Club.
the America’s Cup Jubilee held in 2001 in Cowes, England. The Woodstock of sailing as it has been described. Was truly a remarkable event. The Royal Yacht Squadron set the standard of how to make people happy. 38 twelve meters assembled in one place for the first time ever; along with so many other fabulous boats. For those of us who love sailing it truly was the best of the best, with no end of the “eye candy”.
White Crusader and Ecosse(USA) sailing upwind. Vanity V with 5 Vargas girls spinnakers;
the crew photo is Olin Stephens with a smile from ear to ear posed with the crew of Nyala sailed by Troben Grail
Columbia, the 1958 defender in the America’s cup aboard which I sailed, in a foul tide with the cliffs of the needles in the background.
Finally a photo of a water spout with Corsica in the background. taken while sailing Columbia from Sardinia to Monaco.
The hardest thing about this post was to limit the photos, I smile to myself every time I think of this event and how fortunate I was to have been able to take part in it.