About Maximapedia


YACHTING, the sport of racing in yachts 1 and boats with sails, and also the pastime of cruising for pleasure in sailing steam or motor vessels. Yacht racing dates from the beginning of the 19th century; for, although there were sailing yachts long before, they were but few, and belonged exclusively to princes and other illustrious personages. For instance, in the AngloSaxon period Athelstan had presented to him by the king of Norway a magnificent royal vessel, the sails of which were purple and the head and dck wrought with gold, apparently a kind of state barge. Elizabeth had one, and so has every English sovereign since. During her reign a pleasure ship was built (1588) at Cowes (Isle of Wight), so that the association of that place with the sport goes back a very long time. In 1660 Charles II. was presented by the Dutch with a yacht named the " Mary," until which time the word " yacht " was unknown in England. The Merrie Monarch was fond of sailing, for he designed a yacht of 25 tons called the " Jamie," built at Lambeth in 1662, as well as several others later on. In that year the " Jamie "was matched for 100 against a small Dutch yacht, under the duke of York, from Greenwich to Gravesend and back, and beat her, the king steering part of the time apparently the first record of a yacht match and of an amateur helmsman. Mr Arthur H. Clark, in his History of Yachting (1904), traces the history of pleasure craft from 1600 to 1815, and gives an interesting illustrated account of the yachts belonging to Charles II.

The first authentic record of a sailing club is in 17 20, when the Cork Harbour Water Club, now known as the Royal Cork Yacht Club, was established in Ireland, but the yachts were small. Maitland, in his History of London (1739) mentions sailing and rowing on the Thames as among the amusements then indulged in; and Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes (1801), says that the Cumberland Society, consisting of gentlemen partial to this pastime, gave yearly a silver cup to be sailed for in the vicinity of London. The boats usually started from Blackfriars Bridge, went up the Thames to Putney, and returned to Vauxhall, being, no doubt, mere sailing boats and not yachts or decked vessels. From the middle to the end of the 18th century yachting developed very slowly: although matches were sailed at Cowes as far back as 1780, very few yachts of any size, say 35 tons, existed in 1800 there or elsewhere. In 1812 the Royal Yacht Squadron was established by fifty yacht-owners at Cowes and was called the Yacht Club, altered to the Royal Yacht Club in 1820; but no regular regatta was held there until some years later. The yachts of the time were built of heavy materials, like the revenue cutters, full in the fore body and fine aft; but it was soon discovered that their timbers and scantlings were unnecessarily strong, and they were made much lighter. It was also found that the single-masted cutter was more weatherly than the brigs and schooners of the time, and the former rig was adopted for racing, and, as there was no time allowance for difference of size, they were all built of considerable dimensions.

Early English Yachts. Among the earliest of which there is any record were the " Pearl," 95 tons, built by Sainty at Wyvenhoe near Colchester in 1820, for the marquess of Anglesey, and the " Arrow," 84 tons, originally 61 ft. 9^ in. long and 18 ft. si in. beam, built by Joseph Weld in 1822, which for many years remained extant as a racing yacht, having been rebuilt and 1 The English word " yacht " is the Dutch jacht, jagt, from jachten, " to hurry, " to hunt." See also SHIP and SHIPBUILDING.

altered several times, and again entirely rebuilt in 1887-88. The Thames soon followed the example of the Solent and established the Royal Thames Yacht Club in 1823, the Clyde founding the Royal Northern Yacht Club in 1824, and Plymouth the Royal Western in 1827. In this year the Royal Yacht Squadron passed a resolution disqualifying any member who should apply steam to his yacht the enactment being aimed at T. Assheton Smith, an enthusiastic yachtsman and fox-hunter, who was having a paddle-wheel steam yacht called the " Menai " built on the Clyde. In 1830 one of the largest cutters ever constructed was launched, viz. the " Alarm," built by Inman at Lymington for Joseph Weld of Lulworth Castle, from the lines of a famous smuggler captured off the Isle of Wight. She was 82 ft. on the load-line by 24 ft. beam, and was reckoned of 193 tons, old measurement, in which length, breadth and half-breadth (supposed to represent depth) were the factors for computation. Some yachtsmen at this time preferred still larger vessels and owned square-topsail schooners and brigs like the man-o'-war brigs of the day, such as the " Waterwitch," 381 tons, built by White of Cowes, in 1832, for Lord Belfast, and the " Brilliant," barque, 493 tons, belonging to J. Holland Ackers, who invented a scale of time allowance for competitive sailing. In 1834 the first royal cup was given by William IV. to the Royal Yacht Squadron. In 1836 the Royal Eastern Yacht Club was founded at Granton near Edinburgh; in 1838 the Royal St George's at Kingstown and the Royal London; in 1843 the Royal Southern at Southampton and the Royal Harwich; in 1844 the Royal Mersey at Liverpool and the Royal Victoria at Ryde. The number of vessels kept pace with the clubs the fifty yachts of 1812 increasing nearly tenfold before the middle of the century.

First Alteration in Type. In 1848, after J. Scott Russell had repeatedly drawn attention to the unwisdom of constructing sailing vessels on the " cod's head and mackerel tail " plan, and had enunciated his wave-line theory, Mare built at Blackwall an entirely new type of vessel, with a long hollow bow and a short after-body of considerable fulness. This was the iron cutter " Mosquito," of 59 ft. 2 in. water-line, 15 ft. 3 in. beam, and measuring 50 tons. Prejudice against the new type of yacht being as strong as against the introduction of steam, there were no vessels built like the " Mosquito," with the exception of the " Volante," 59 tons, by Harvey of Wyvenhoe, until the eyes of English yachtsmen were opened by the Americans three years later. About this period yacht racing had been gradually coming into favour in the United States, the first yacht club being founded at New York in 1844 by nine yachtowners; and in 1846 the first match between yachts in the States was sailed, 25 m. to windward and back from Sandy Hook lightship, between J. C. Stevens's new centre-board sloop " Maria," 170 tons, 100 ft. water-line and 26 ft. 8 in. beam, with a draught of 5 ft. 3 in. of water, and the " Coquette," schooner, 74 tons, belonging to J. H. Perkins, the latter winning; but the appearance of the " Maria," which had a clipper or schooner bow, something like that of the racing cutters of 1887-88, did much for yachting in America. Stevens then commissioned George Steers of New York, builder of the crack pilot schooners, to construct a racing schooner to visit England in the year of the great exhibition, and the result was the " America " of 1 70 tons. She crossed the Atlantic in the summer of 1851, but failed to compete for the Queen's cup at Cowes in August, although the club for that occasion threw the prize open to all the world, as her owner declined to concede the usual time allowance for difference of size. The members of the Yacht Squadron, not wishing to risk the reproach of denying the visitor a fair race, decided that their match for a cup given by the club, to be sailed round the Isle of Wight later in the same month should be without any time allowance. The " America," thus exceptionally treated, entered and competed against fifteen other vessels. The three most dangerous competitors being put out through accidents, the " America " passed the winning-post 18 minutes ahead of the 47-ton cutter " Aurora," and won the cup; but, even if the time allowance had not been waived, the American schooner yacht would still have won by fully a couple of minutes. The prize was given to the New York Yacht Club and constituted a challenge cup, called " the America's cup," for the yachts of all nations, by the deed of gift of the owners of the winner. (See below for a complete account of these races.)

Not only was the " America " as great a departure from the conventional British type of yacht as the " Mosquito," but the set of her sails was a decided novelty. In England it had been the practice to make them baggy, whereas those of the " America " were flat, which told materially in working to windward. The revolution in yacht designing and canvasing was complete, and the bows of existing cutters were lengthened, that of the " Arrow " among others. The " Alarm " was also lengthened and turned into a schooner of 248 tons, and the " Wildfire," cutter, 59 tons, was likewise converted. Indeed there was a complete craze for schooners, the " Flying Cloud," " Gloriana," " Lalla Rookh," " Albertine," " Aline," " Egeria," " Pantomime " and others being built between 1852 and 1865, during which period the centre-board, or sliding keel, was applied to schooners as well as sloops in America. The national or cutter rig was nevertheless not neglected in England, for Hatcher of Southampton built the 35-ton cutter " Glance " the pioneer of the subsequent 4o-tonners in 1855, and the " Vampire " the pioneer of the zo-tonners in 1857, in which year Weld also had the " Lulworth," an 82-ton cutter of comparatively shallow draught, constructed at Lymington. At this time too there came into existence a group of cutters, called " flying fifties " from their tonnage, taking after the " Mosquito " as their pioneer; such were the " Extravaganza," " Audax " and " Vanguard." In 1866 a large cutter was constructed on the Clyde called the " Condor," 135 tons, followed by the still larger " Oimara," 163 tons, in 1867. In 1868 the " Cambria " schooner was built by Ratsey at Cowes for Ashbury of Brighton, and, having proved a successful match-sailer, was taken to the United States in 1870 to compete for the America's cup, but was badly beaten, as also was the " Livonia " in 1871.

The First Great Era cf Yacht Racing. The decade between 1870 and 1880 may be termed the first Golden Age of yachting, inasmuch as the racing fleet had some very notable additions made to it, of which it will suffice to mention the schooners "Gwendolin," " Cetonia," " Corinne," "Miranda" and " Waterwitch "; the large cutters " Kriemhilda," " Vol au Vent," " Formosa," " Samcena " and " Vanduara," a cutter built of steel; the 4o-tonners " Foxhound," " Bloodhound," " Myosotis " and " Norman "; the 2o-tonners " Vanessa " (Hatcher's masterpiece), " Quickstep," " Enriqueta," " Louise " and "Freda"; and the yawls " Florinda," " Corisande," " Jullanar " and " Latona." The " Jullanar " may be noted as a specially clever design. Built in 1874 from the ideas of Bentall, an agricultural implement maker of Maldon, Essex, she had no dead wood forward or aft, and possessed many improvements in design which were embodied and developed by the more scientific naval architects, G. L. Watson, William Fife, jun., and others in later years. Lead, the use of which commenced in 1846, was entirely used for ballast after 1870 and placed on the keel outside.

Of races there was a plethora; indeed no fewer than 400 matches took place in 1876, as against 63 matches in 1856, with classes for schooners and yawls, for large cutters, for 40- tonners, 2o-tonners and lo-tonners. The sport, too, was better regulated, and was conducted on a uniform system: the YachtRacing Association, established in 1875, drew up a simple code of laws for the regulation of yacht races, which was accepted by the yacht clubs generally, though a previous attempt to introduce uniformity, made by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in 1868, had failed. The Association adopted the rule for ascertaining the size or tonnage of yachts which had been for many years in force, known as the Thames rule; but in 1879 they altered the plan of reckoning length from that taken on deck to that taken at the load water-line, and two years later they adopted an entirely new system of calculation.

The Plank-on-edge. These changes led to a decline in yachtracing, the new measurement exercising a prejudicial effect on the sport, as it enabled vessels of extreme length, depth and narrowness, kept upright by enormous masses of lead on the outside of the keel, to compete on equal terms with vessels of greater width and less depth, in other words, smaller yachts carrying an inferior area of sail. The new type was known as the " lead mine " or plank-on-edge type. Of this type were the yawls " Lorna " and " Wendur," the cutters " May," " Annasona," " Sleuth-hound," " Tara," " Marjorie " and " Margarite " the most extreme of all being perhaps the 4o-tonner " Tara," six times as long as she was broad, and unusually deep, with a displacement of 75 tons, 38 tons of lead on her keel, and the sail-spread of a 6o-tonner like " Neva."

In 1884 two large 8o-ton cutters of the above type were built for racing, the " Genesta " on the Clyde and the " Irex " at Southampton. Having been successful in her first season, the former went to the United States in 1885 in quest of the America's cup; but she was beaten by the " Puritan," which had a moderate draught of 8 ft. 3 in. of water, considerable beam and a deep centre-board. The defeat of the " Genesta " was not surprising; she drew 13 ft. of water, had a displacement or weight of 141 as against the " Puritan's " 106 tons, and a sail area of 7887 sq. ft. to the American's 7982 a greater mass with less driving power. Still, she did not leave the States empty-handed, as she won and brought back the Cape May and Brenton Reef challenge cups, though they were wrested from her by the " Irex " in the following year. The same thing happened to the " Galatea," which was beaten by the " Mayflower " in 1886. In all classes in British waters the narrow type was not carried to excess; indeed, as the narrowness of the new yachts increased annually, so did the popularity of racing decrease.

Plank-on-edge Type abandoned. Prior to 1886 it had been the custom in Great Britain for several reasons to build the yachts deep, narrow, wall-sided, with very heavy lead keels and heavy displacement. The system of measurement had been a tonnage measurement, and under this system designers found, from the knowledge they had then attained from racing trials, that a narrow heavy vessel would beat a wider and lighter craft when both were measured by the tonnage rules. In America this was not the case. There a much lighter and wider form of yacht had been in vogue, having shallower draught and relying upon a centre-board for weatherliness instead of a deep lead keel. Hence in the International contests from 1884 to 1886 for the America's cup and other events the trials were between deep and narrow British yachts and shallow and broad American yachts. Even in 1867, when G. L. Watson built the " Thistle," much broader than " Genesta " and " Galatea," this vessel was met and defeated by a far wider and shallower American sloop, namely, the " Volunteer " above referred to. British yachtsmen claimed that their narrow deep-keeled vessels were more weatherly and better sea-boats than the light American sloops, but racing honours rested with the Americans.

In 1887 the plank-on-edge type was completely abandoned in the United Kingdom. Thenceforward, therefore, the old spirited contests between deep British yachts and shallow American sloops ceased. Whilst Britain abandoned her narrow deep type, America soon also began to modify the old shallow centre-board sloop type, and so between 1887 and 1893 the rival types began to converge very rapidly, until the old idea of a race for the America's cup being a test of a British type against an American type completely died out. Races sailed for that trophy, after 1887, were less and less trials of opposing national types, but merely contests between British and American designed yachts built upon the same general principle of similar type.

Dixon Kemp in 1887 induced British yachtsmen to abandon the system of measuring yachts by tonnage and to adopt a new system of rating them by water-line length and sail area.

The new system contained no taxes or penalties upon beam or depth nor upon " over all " length. The only factors measured were the water-line and the area of the sails. All the old tonnage rules taxed the length and the breadth. The effect of this change of the system measurement was electrical. It crushed the plank-on-edge type completely. There was not another boat of the kind built.

Revival of Yacht-Racing under Length and Sail Area Rule. Yachtsmen were greatly pleased with the broader and lighter types of yachts that designers began to turn out under the length and sail area rule. They were more comfortable and drier in a seaway than the old vessels. The first large cutters built with considerable beam were " Yarana " and " Petronilla " in 1888, and in 1889 the first of Lord Dunraven's Valkyries was a vessel that was much admired. Then in 1890 " Iverna," a handsome clipper-bowed cutter owned by Mr Jameson, came out and raced against " Thistle." Meanwhile, up to 1892 a host of splendid 4o-raters had been built; " Mohawk," " Deerhound," " Castanet," " Reverie," " Creole," " Thalia," "Corsair," "White Slave," "Queen Mab " and " Varuna " formed a class the like of which had never been surpassed in British waters. Watson, Fife and Payne were the most successful designers.

While a revival of yachting in the larger classes was notable under the rule Dixon Kemp had originated, the sudden popularity attained in the small classes in the Solent was even more remarkable. Under the tonnage rules deep narrow 3-tonners, 5-tonners and lo-tonners had raced about the coast, but the Solent did not seem to attract a greater number of yachtsmen as small boat sailors than the Thames, Mersey or Irish ports. Moreover, the Clyde really remained the most advanced centre of small yacht sailing. At Southampton, prior to Dixon Kemp's rule being adopted by the Yacht-Racing Association in 1887, there were some sporting classes of so-called lichen Ferry boats which raced on a rating consisting of length on the water-fine only. As there was no tax upon their sail, they were built (according to the ideas of designers in 1885 or 1886, who had not by that time absorbed the knowledge of the value of bulb-keels) with great beam, immense displacement and very thick heavy lead keels and huge sail-spread. A sail area of 2200 sq. ft. was crowded on to a w-foot yacht, and one 3O-footer even carried a jointed spinnaker boom 56 ft. in length. It was not surprising that such a type never became popular; indeed the Southampton length classes in the 'eighties were no better than the extremely narrow 5-tonners and 3-tonners. The 5-tonner " Doris," built by Watson in 1885, was 33 ft. 8 in. L.W.L., 5 ft. 7 in. beam, 7 ft. draught; displacement of 12-55 tons; 1681 sq. ft. of sail. The " Yvonne," built by Fife in 1889, was 34-1 ft. L.W.L., 9 ft. beam, 8-1 ft. draught, with a displacement of 12-9 tons and a sail area of 1726 sq. ft. The difference in dimensions between " Doris" and " Yvonne " shows how the beam and sail-carrying power was increased in the new type, for " Yvonne " could beat the " Doris " with the greatest ease. With the advent of the length and sail area rule the Solent at once became the fashionable rendezvous for small racing yachts, and the craft known as the Solent classes, 5-raters, 2j-raters, i-raters and j-raters, flourished greatly.

The Second Great Era in Yachting. As the years 1870 to 1880 will always be remembered for the great schooners and the glorious fleet of old-fashioned cutters and yawls, which showed such fine sport before they were outbuilt by the plankson-edge, so will the seasons following 1892 be identified with the big cutter racing. In that year it was commonly said that yachtsmen would build no more very large cutters. The revival under the length and sail area rule had so far extended to " Iverna," " Tarana," " Petronilla," and " Valkyrie I." being built in the first class, but then there had been a pause of some years during which large numbers of 4o-raters, 2o-raters and the Solent classes had been built. Just when the critics were declaring that in the future no yachtsmen would build a class racer larger than a 40-rater (60 ft. L.W.L. with 4000 sq. ft. of sail), the prince of Wales (afterwards Edward VII.) gave an order for the cutter " Britannia," while Lord Dunraven built " Valkyrie II.," Mr A. D. Clarke " Satanita" and Mr Peter Donaldson " Calluna "; and in this same season (1893), an American yachtsman took the Herreshoff yacht " Navahoe " over the Atlantic. The new vessels averaged 87 ft. L.W.L. and carried about 10,300 sq. ft. of canvas, their beam being as much as 23 ft. They were an entirely different type from " Iverna " or " Thistle," being developed from the form of the 4O-raters " Varuna " and " Queen Mab." The main differences between the " Britannia " and other yachts of her year and the older vessels was that the new yachts had an overhanging shallowsectioned mussel or pram bow instead of a fiddle or clipper bow with a wedge-shaped transverse section; the outline of the under-water profile was hollow, sloping in a concave curve from the deep part of the keel under the mast to the forward end of the water-line; the keel was deep, practically developing into a fin. The new vessels skimmed over the waves instead of cutting and plunging through them. The seaworthiness, speed, weatherliness and general handiness for racing purposes of the cutters of 1893 far exceeded all previous results. Yacht designing and building now became a science demanding the highest tax upon the skill and ingenuity of the naval architect. The cutter " Valkyrie II." visited the United States in 1893, but Lord Dunraven's vessel was beaten by the " Vigilant." Curiously enough, when the crack Herreshoff cutters " Navahoe " and " Vigilant " visited the British Isles they were severely beaten by the British yachts. In 1893 the " Navahoe " started 13 times and only won two first prizes. In 1894 " Vigilant " did a little better, but she only won six races in 19 starts. During the years that followed the " Britannia " held a wonderful record:


First Prizes.

Other Prizes.


Prizes Value.

1893 . 1894 .

24 36 33 38 1572 2799 1895 .

2 3040 1896 .

1562 1897 .

219 1zz 973 Some other famous racing yachts which were built under the length and sail area rule were " Ailsa " (1895), a first-class cutter designed by Fife, " Isolde," a very beautiful 4O-rater for Mr Donaldson By the same designer, " Caress," a 4O-rater by Watson, and the 2O-raters " Audrey," from Lord Dunraven's own model, " Niagara " by Herreshoff, and the " Sibbick "-designed 5-rater "Norman," owned by Captain Orr-Ewing. Since the introduction of Dixon Kemp's rule the smaller classes from 2O-rating right down to J-ratmg had been built in great numbers, but whilst these classes had flourished exceedingly, the type of boat built had developed a very peculiar form. Each succeeding craft was made lighter and lighter in weight and more extreme in the overhang at the bow and stern. The stability was now attained by means of a cigarshaped piece of lead placed at the bottom of a steel plate or fin, the hull of the boat being nothing more than the bowl of a dessert spoon resting upon the water.

Fin and Bulb Keels. Downfall of Length and Sail Area Rule. It was apparent in 1895 that if plate and bulb skimmingdishes could win all the prizes in the 2o-rating and smaller classes, it would be easy to design a modified form of fin and bulb yacht to beat " Isolde," " Britannia " and " Ailsa " in the larger classes. It was equally obvious that a skimmingdish of " Britannia's " or " Isolde's " rating would be an utterly useless machine with no cabin accommodation or head room, and that the evolution of such type would be as bad for the sport as the development of the old plank-on-edge had been in 1885. It seemed strange that whilst the old tonnage rule had evolved the plank-on-edge ten years previously, the sail area measurement now evolved a plank-on-side, balanced by a fin. The fact was that designers had solved the problem. The rule measured only the length and the area of canvas. Taking the length of the vessel on the water-line as constant, then the vessel with the smallest possible weight could be driven with less sail at the same speed as vessels with greater weight and greater sail. This solution of the problem was not apparent to designers from 1880 to 1885, because of the difficulty of obtaining stability. From 1880 to 1885 stability was obtained by means of very heavy keels. In 1895 the stability was obtained by means of a light piece of lead placed at the bottom of a deep steel fin. " Niagara," " Audrey " (zo-raters) and " Norman "(s-rater) were thus built. They were wonderful sailing machines in heavy weather, fast, powerful, handy and efficient in all weathers.

But if head room and cabin accommodation are considered essential parts of a yacht these fliers, as "yachts," were entirely inefficient.

The First Linear Rating Rule. To endeavour to check the tendency to build skimming-dishes the Yacht-Racing Association introduced in 1896 a new system of measurement which was proposed by Mr R. E. Froude. The novelty of the system consisted of a tax upon the skin girth of the yacht, whereby a vessel with hollow midship section was penalized by her girth being measured round the skin surface. Froude's first system of rating began on the 1st of January 1896 and ended at the close of the year 1900. It therefore had a career of five seasons. The measurement of the yacht was obtained by che following formula:

Length L.W.L.+beam + f skin girth + } = linear rating.

This rule partially failed in its object. It was hoped that the skin-surface measurement would prevent the fin-bulb type being successful, but Froude and his colleagues had under-estimated the possible developments of exaggerated pram bows, immense scow-shaped shoulders and stern-lines, all of which could be introduced into the skimming-dish type with great success. So, notwithstanding the small premium on displacement this rule contained, the dishes could still beat the full-bodied yachts.

Yachts built in the small classes were very shallow bodied, and in the 2O-rating and 4O-rating, now called the 52 ft. and 65 ft. classes respectively, were uncomfortably shallow. The best vessels in the large classes were undoubtedly well formed and useful yachts; indeed in the larger classes the rule seems to have checked excesses. Under this rule in 1896 the German Emperor ordered a huge firstclass cutter, the " Meteor II. ."from Watson. By sheer size and power this vessel outsailed " Britannia." She carried a main boom of 96 ft. long against the " Britannia's " boom of 91 ft. In 1900 Watson designed another great cutter called the " Distant Shore," the same size as " Britannia," but she was not launched until 1901. In 1900 also Watson crowned all his previous successes by turning out the yawl " Sybarita," the same size as " Meteor." " Senta Tutty," " Eelin " and " Astrild," and finally " Khama," were amongst the 65-footers, and " Penitent," " The Saint," " Morning Star" and " Senga " about the best 2-footers. Probably the yacht which emphasized the possibilities of the rule more than any of her contemporaries was Captain Orr-Ewing's 3&-footer " Sakuntala," built by Sibbick. She was a complete scow-shaped skimming-dish. The 3O-footers " Marjory " and ' Flatfish " were similar craft, and they outsailed everything in their respective classes in the Solent. Although many fine vessels, including the schooner " Rainbow " and others, were built under this rule, it was obviously insufficient to check the hollow-sectioned type.

The Second Linear Rating Rule. This rule, also suggested by Froude, was introduced on the 1st of January 1901. The confidence of yachtsmen had been decidedly shaken by the previous rule, and the Y.R.A. agreed to fix this rule for a period of seven years. The object of the rule was to ensure a bigbodied vessel. The formula was:

Length + breadth + jgirth +43+} V sail area ,.

Now the novelty of this rule was the new tax 3. This 'J represents the difference in feet between the measurement of the girth of the yacht's hull taken round the skin surface and the girth at the same place measured with a string pulled taut. This measurement is taken A tns of the distance from the fore end of the water-line. It is easy to see that in a full-bodied yacht <?=a small unit, whilst in a hollow-bodied yacht 3= a larger unit. Four times 2 being taken, it followed that hollow-bodied yachts were heavily penalized. This ingenious J measurement was evolved by Alfred Benzon, a Danish scientist and yachtsman. The rule, so far as the development of a full-bodied cabin yacht went, pro% r ed very successful. It had certain marked faults: the measurement of the girth at a fixed station caused a shallowness of keel at that particular spot, and there was no check upon the full pram bows, which when introduced into vessels of heavy displacement strained the ships terribly as they smashed into a heavy seaway. The new racing yachts generally, however, from 1896 onwards, proved worthy and fast vessels.

As an instance of what could be done with them, in 1901 a memorable match was sailed on the Clyde between the Watson cutter " Kariad " (originally the " Distant Shore," previously mentioned) and the same designer's go-foot yawl " Sybarita." It was blowing a gale of wind, and the yachts raced from Rothesay round Ailsa Craig and back, a distance of 75 m., averaging 12-3 knots, with closed reefed sails, housed topmasts and in a mountainous sea. Several steam yachts attempted to accompany them, but all put back owing to the roaring sea that was running near the Craig. The yawl had the advantage of being" the larger vessel, and " Sybarita " on this occasion won one of the greatest races ever recorded in Scottish waters.

Class Racing, Handicapping and Cruiser Racing. Yacht racing may be subdivided under these three heads. Yacht racing by rating measurement or tonnage, when either the first yacht to finish is the winner, or the yacht saving her time by a fixed scale of time allowance in proportion to the rating of the vessel and the length of the course, is called class racing, and it obviously tends to encourage the fastest possible vessel under the current rating rule to be produced. It has always been regarded as the highest form of the sport. It is naturally, however, the most expensive form, because only the most up-to-date and perfectly equipped vessels can keep in the first flight.

From time to time, chiefly from about the years 1884 and 1885 onwards, handicaps framed according to merits have been fashionable amongst yachtsmen. They were originally devised to afford amusement and sport to out-classed racers and cruisers, but they obviously did nothing to encourage owners to build very fast vessels, nor to stimulate improvement in design. When a handicap is allotted to each vessel according to her assumed speed, the slowest and most ill-designed craft should have an equal chance with the best. Nevertheless, owing to the expense of class racing, handicap racing thrived greatly during the period of the first and second Girth Rules. During these periods, too, the third style of yacht racing came into vogue, namely cruiser racing; either very fast cruisers were built specially for the purpose of handicap racing, or a number of yachts of exactly similar design were built specially to the owner's orders for the purpose of racing in a class together. The fast handicap cruisers had the great advantage over class racers from 1896 up to 1906, inasmuch as they were much more strongly built. " Valdora " (107 tons), " Brynhijd " (160 tons), " Leander, " Namara," " Rosamond," " Merrymaid " and many others were yachts of the former type. In form they did not differ vastly from the racers of their period, but in scantling of hull, fittings, bulwarks and rig they were more comfortable and better vessels than their class-racing sisters. It was obvious in the larger classes that many yacht-owners were not prepared to put up with the discomfort of the thin-skinned racers. During the whole period of the Girth Rules (1896 to 1906), while the class racers developed a good enough form of body they were latterly yachts with plenty of cabin room they were necessarily built in the lightest possible manner, the lightest steel frames being covered with the thinnest planking and decks for the sake of saving weight. The light scantling began to tell severely upon large yacht lacing. Meanwhile, in the small classes, the Solent one-design class, South Coast one-design class, numerous Belfast one-design classes, Redwings, Whitewings and a host of others, show how an inexpensive form of cruiser racing had usurped the place of class racing and competitive designing. Many yachtsmen felt that if handicap racing and one-design racing were to usurp the place of the higher form of class racing the whole sport of yachting must soon deteriorate. It was obvious that had handicap racing and the one-design principle been seriously introduced in 1880 or 1886 and obtained a strong hold on yachtsmen such improved types as the modern cruisers of 1906 would never have been evolved. For all the best cruisers, even the " Valdora " and the ketches " Cariad I." and " Cariad II.," are but modified types evolved from the crack racers. Hence yachtsmen began to give careful attention during the early period of the Second Linear Rating rule to suggestions that in the future every class-racing yacht should be built according to a fixed table of scantlings, so that her hull should be as strong as a bona fide cruiser.

Yachts Built under the Second Linear Rating Rule. Few large vessels were built expressly for racing under this rule; indeed the Fife 65-footer " Zinita " (1904) was the only lightscantling yacht of any importance. However, two very handsome first-class vessels were constructed to the rule: " White Heather I." by Fife in 1904, and " Nyria " by Nicholson in 1906; they were some 12 ft. shorter than the great cutters of " Britannia's " year and altogether smaller, having less beam and draught and some 1700 sq. ft. less sail area. The growing dissatisfaction of yacht-owners at the extreme light scantling of modern racing yachts was strongly demonstrated by* the fact that both " White Heather I." and " Nyria " were specially ordered to be of heavy scantling, and they were classed Ai at Lloyd's. They were therefore of the semi-cruiser type. " Nyria," however, was the extreme type of a yacht of her period in shape, although heavy in construction. The only conspicuous fault to be found with the form of the racing yachts under the rule was a skimping of the mean draught and an exaggeration of the full pram-shaped overhanging bow.

The 52-footers were a very popular class. Fife made a great advance in yacht architecture with a 52-foot cutter called the " Magdalen " (1901). All the other successful vessels under the rule " Camellia " (Payne), " Lucida " and " Maymon " (Fife), " Moyana" and " Britomart " (Mylne), and the first-class cutter " Nyria "- followed her closely in type. An interesting trial took place in 1906, when the first-class cutter " Kariad " (1900) was brought out to compete with " Nyria " and " White Heather I.," and decidedly put-sailed, showing that yacht architecture had steadily improved in the past six seasons.

International Rules Introduced. In April 1904 Mr Heckstall Smith drew the attention of German, French and British yachtsmen to the fact that the yacht measurement rules (then different in the various countries) were generally due to terminate about the end of 1907, and suggested that many advantages would accrue if an international rule could be agreed upon. The Yacht-Racing Association agreed to take the matter up, and at two International Conferences, held in London in January and June 1906, an international rule of yacht measurement and rating was unanimously agreed to by all the nations of Europe. America alone refused to attend the Conference. Mr R. E. Froude struck the keynote of the object of the Conference by a statement that the ideal yacht should be a vessel combining " habitability with speed." The truth of this axiom was generally accepted. Old plank-on-edge types under the tonnage rules were habitable but slow. Skimming-dishes attained the maximum speed, but were uninhabitable. Neither therefore attained the ideal type. A good form was attained in 1901 with " Magdalen," but since that year the bane of light construction had become harmful to yachting. Hence the conference aimed at a rule which would produce a yacht combining habitabili'cy with speed. They adopted a form of linear rating comprising certain penalties upon hollow midship section (i.e. Benzon's d tax) and also upon full pram bows. The following was adopted as the rule by which all racing yachts in Europe are rated:

L+B+jG+3i7-H VS-F _ Rating in linear units, Le. either ft. or 2 metres.

Where L = Length in linear units.

B = Extreme beam in linear units. G = Girth in linear units. 2 = Girth difference in linear units. S = Sail area in square units. F = Freeboard in linear units.

The length L for the formula is the length on the water-line, with the addition (i) of the difference between the girth, coveringboard to covering-board, at the bow water-line ending, and twice the freeboard at that point, and (2) one-fifth of the difference between the girth, covering-board to covering-board, at the stern water-line ending, and twice the freeboard at that point. The additions (i) and (2) penalize the full overhangs and the bow overhang in particular. The girth, G, is the chain girth measured at that part of the yacht at which the measurement, is greatest, less twice the freeboard at the same station, but there are certain provisions allowing the measurement of girth generally to be taken 0-55 from the bow end of the water-line. The girth difference, d in the formula, is the difference between the chain girth, measured as above described, from coveringboard to covering-board, and the skin girth between the same points, measured along the actual outline of the crosssection.

For racing the yachts are divided into eleven classes. Class A is for schooners and yawls only, above 23 metres (75-4 ft.) of rating, with a time allowance of four seconds per metre per mile. All the yachts in this class must be classed Ai. In racing, yawls sail at their actual rating and schooners at 12% less than their actual rating. The other classes are the ten separate cutter classes, in which there is no time allowance whatever:

International Classes approximating to L.W.L of Yacht.

Corresponding Classes in English Feet.

Limit to Number of Persons allowed on Board during a Race.

23 metres rating.

75-4 No limit 62-3 1zz 9-2 >4 39-4 1zz 2-8 29-5 8 . .

26-2 23-0 19-7 16-4 Under the international rule the old trouble of ultra-light scantling in racing yachts has been completely abolished, for all yachts must be built under the survey and classed with one of the three classification societies Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, Germanischer Lloyd, or Bureau Veritas; and yachts of the international cutter classes enumerated above so built will be classed R., denoting that their scantlings are as required for their respective rating classes. This rule was introduced on the 1st of January 1008; England, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Russia and the Argentine Republic agreed to adopt it until December 3 ist, 1917. England adopted the new system a year before it formally became international, on the 1st of January 1907.

Racing Yachts Built under the International Rules. The new rule produced the type of yacht desired a vessel combining habitability with speed. Amongst the handsomest examples were the German Emperor's schooner " Meteor " (1909), and the schooner "Germania" (1908), 400 tons or 31^ metres measurement, Class A, both built by Krupp's at Kiel. German designed, German built, and German rigged and manned, they demonstrated the wonderful strides made by Germany in yachting. A few years before there were not a dozen smart yachts in Germany, and indeed the Kaiserlicher Yacht Club at Kiel was only founded in 1887. The " Germania " holds the record over the old " Queen's course " at Cowes, having in 1908 sailed it a quarter of an hour faster than any other vessel. Her time over the distance of about 47 to 48 nautical m. was 3 hours 35 min. n sees., or at the rate of 13-1 knots. In 1910 Herreshoff built a wonderful racing schooner of A class for the international rules called the " Westward," and in the races this Yankee clipper sailed at Cowes she proved the most weatherly schooner ever built.

It is interesting to recall some old records of speed over courses inside the Isle of Wight.






1858 The Arrow 45 miles 4 h. 19 m.

Cutter ) Same 1872 The Arrow 5 ..

4 h. 40 m.

Cutter ) vessel.

1872 Kriemhilda 1zz h. 37 m.


1883 Marjorie 50 ',', 4 h. 26 m.


1883 Samoena 4 h. 15 m.


1885 Lorna 50 ..

4 h. 14 m.


1885 I rex 4 h. 7 m.


1870 1875 Egeria Olga 50 5 4 h. 27 m. 4 h. 25 m.

Schooner. Schooner.

1879 Enchantress 1zz h. 18 m.

American schooner.

1908 Cicely 3 h. 43 m.

British sch.

1902 Meteor 47 ..

3 h. 50 m.

American sch.

1908 Shamrock 47 ., 4 h. o m.

British cutter, only 75 feet L.W.L.

1908 Germania 47 - 3 h. 35 m.

German sch.

In 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910, 389 yachts were built under the international rules: A class, 3; 23 metres class, 3; 15 metres class, 15; 12 metres, 21; 10 metres, 33; 9 metres, 17; 8 metres, 88; 7 metres, 46; 6 metres, 144; and 5 metres, 22. The 23-metre cutters " Shamrock," designed by Fife (1908), belonging to Sir Thomas Lipton, " White Heather II." (Fife; 1907), owned by Mr Kennedy, and " Brynhild " (Nicholson; 1907), owned by Sir James Fender; and also " Ostara," 15 metres (Mylne; 1909), owned by Mr W. P. Burton; " Hispania," 15 metres (Fife; 1009), owned by the king of Spain; " Alachie and Cintra " (Fife) in the 1 2-metre class, have been amongst the best yachts built for the international rules. During the seasons of 1908, 1909 and 1910 there was splendid sport in England, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway and Sweden, and indeed all over the continent; the yachts were very closely matched, the is-metres (49-2 ft.), 8-metres (26-2 ft.) and 6-metres (19-7 ft.) proving perhaps the most popular. The national authorities of the countries which adopted the international rules in 1906 have now formed an International Yacht-Racing Union, under the chairmanship of the British Yacht-Racing Association.

In 1909, in the United Kingdom, from January to May, the time of the year when yachts are generally constructed, there were building, or built, 27 steam yachts of 3471 tons, and 28 sailing yachts of 963 tons; this includes only yachts of 10 tons and upwards. Excluding the small craft built in America, particulars of which are difficult to obtain, there were on the register 7568 vachls with a tonnage of 377,427. In 1887 there was a total of about 3000 yachts on the register with a tonnage of 132,718. Since that date, therefore, in round figures, 1500 had been added to the number and more than 100,000 tons to the tonnage. This fact seems to show clearly the extension of the pastime of yachting.

The America's Cup.

This international trophy was originally a cup given by the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, Isle of Wight, on the 22nd of August 1851, for a race open to all yachts, with no time allowance of any kind, the course being " round the Isle of Wight, inside the No Man's buoy and Sand Head buoy and outside the Nab." Fifteen vessels took up their stations off Cowes and started from moorings. In the table on the following page are the names of the competitors.

The fleet started at 10 o'clock. At the No Man's buoy the yachts were in a cluster, " Volante " leading, then " Freak " " Aurora," " Gipsy Queen," " America," " Beatrice," " Alarm," "Arrow " and " Bacchante " in the order named. The other six brought up the rear, and the " Wyvern " returned to Cowes. Passing out to the Yacht.




Beatrice Schooner Sir W. P. Carew.

Volante Cutter Mr J. L. Craigie.

Arrow Cutter Mr T. Chamberlayne.

Wyvern Schooner The duke of Marlborough.

lone .

Schooner Mr A. Hill.

Constance Schooner The marquis of Conyngham.

Gipsy Queen Schooner Sir H. B. Hoghton.

Alarm Cutter Mr J. Weld.

Mona Cutter Lord Alfred Paget.

America Schooner Messrs Stevens.

Brilliant 3-masted Mr G. H. Ackers.

schooner Bacchante .

Cutter Mr B. H. Jones.

Freak Cutter Mr W. Curling.

Eclipse Cutter Mr H. S. Fearon.

Aurora Cutter Mr T. Le Marchant.

eastward the " America " went inside the Nab, a course which was contrary to the printed programme, but an objection afterwards made on this score against her was not persisted in. Off Sandown Bay. the " America " obtained a long lead and in a freshening wind carried away her jibboom. Here the " Aurora " was second boat. The " Volante " sprung her bowsprit and gave up. The " Arrow " ran ashore and the " Alarm " went to her assistance, so both were out of the race. Abreast of Ventnor the American schooner was a mile ahead of " Aurora," which was the last British craft to keep her in sight in a thick haze that blew up from the S.W. late in the afternoon. At the Needles the wind dropped until it was very light, and the " America " was then some 6 m. ahead of " Aurora," the time being about 6 p.m. The finish was:

America (winner) Aurora . Bacchante Eclipse Brilliant 8.37 P.m. 8.58 p.m. 9.30 p.m. 9-45 P-m. i. 20 a.m.

Aug. 22. Aug. 22.

Aug. 22. Aug. 22.

Aug. 23.

The " America " was built at New York by the firm of George & James R. Steers for the special purpose of competing with British yachts at Cowes. George Steers, who was born in New York, designed her, the designer being a son of Henry Steers, a shipwright at Dartmouth. The registered owners of the vessel were Mr J. C. Stevens, the commodore of the NewYorkYacht Club, Mr C.A.Stevens, Mr H. Wilkes and Mr J. B. Finlay. Her crew consisted of thirteen all told, seven seamen before the mast, two mates, cook, steward, boy and master. The cost of building was set down at 24 per ton, and her builder was to receive one-third more should she succeed " in out-sailing any competitors of the same tonnage in England." The vessel had a long lean hollow entrance and rather short but fine run, but her lines were graceful and clean and the transverse sections amidships very gentle and shapely. She had a clipper bow and elliptical stern. Her sails particularly were superior in cut to those of the English vessels. Her masts raked, and she carried a mainsail laced to the boom, which in those days was almost unknown in England, a foresail, and a jib, also set on a boom and on an immensely heavy forestay which was the chief support of the foremast. She carried a small main topsail with a short yard and small jackyard. Occasionally she set also a flying jib on a jibboom, but this was not regarded as of much account. The principal dimensions of the "America" were: tonnage 171; length over all 94 ft.; on the keel 82 ft. ; beam 22 ft. 6 in. ; foremast 79 ft. 6 in. ; mainmast 81 ft. (with a rake of 2j in. to the foot in each mast); hollow bowsprit 17 ft. out board only; foregaff 24 ft.; maingaff 28 ft ; mainboom 56 ft. She was ballasted with pig-iron; 21 tons of the iron were permanently built into the vessel and the rest stowed inside. Below deck she was comfortably fitted for the living accommodation of the owner, guests and crew, and a cockpit on deck was a feature that few English yachts of the period possessed.

The cup won at Cowes by the " America," although not originally intended as a challenge cup, was afterwards given to the New York Yacht Club by the owner of the " America ' as a challenge trophy and named the " America's cup." In 1887 the sole surviving owner of the cup, George L. S. Schuyler, attached to the trophy a deed of gift which sets forth the conditions under which all races for the cup must take place. In brief the conditions are; (i) That the races must be between one yacht built in the country of the challenging club and one yacht built in the country of the club holding the cup.

(2) That the size of the yachts, if of one mast, must be not less than 65 ft. L.W.L. and not more than 90 ft. L.W.L. If of two-masted rig not less than 80 ft. L.W.L. and not more than 115 ft. L.W.L.

(3) The challenging club must give ten months' notice of the race, and accompanying the challenge must be sent the name, rig and the following dimensions: length L.W.L.; beam and draught of water of the challenging vessel (which dimensions shall not be exceeded), and as soon as possible a custom-house registry of the vessel. (4) The vessel must proceed under sail on her own bottom to the place where the contest is to take place.

The deed of gift, however, is an elastic document, for it contains the following clause which is known as the Mutual Agreement Clause: " The club challenging for the cup and the club holding the same may by mutual consent make any arrangement satisfactory to both as to the dates, courses, number of trials, rules and sailing regulations, and any and all other conditions of the match, in which case also the ten months' notice may be waived."

In 1870 Mr James Ashbury of Brighton challenged with the schooner " Cambria," and in 1871 with another schooner the " Livonia." In both cases the event was a test of rival types, " Cambria " and " Livonia " being old-fashioned British schooners while the vessels they met were the pick of the American broader and shallower types. " Cambria " had to meet fourteen opponents, but in 1871 the " Livonia " raced against one opponent only. The Americans, however, although they agreed to race one vessel only against the " Livonia," brought several yachts up to the line and only selected their defender at the last moment. The first defender which " Livonia " had to meet was the " Columbia," which won the first and second events. In the third meeting, however, in a very strong wind the British schooner hammered the " Columbia " severely, and eventually the American yacht, having carried away some gear, was beaten by a quarter of an hour. In the two remaining races of the series the Americans were represented by the ' Sappho,'' which eanly defeated the " Livonia."

The next challenges came from Canada in 1876 and 1881, but neither the schooner " Countess of Dufferin " nor the sloop " Atalanta " met with any success.

The races of 1885 and 1886, when Sir Richard Sutton challenged with " Genesta " and Lieutenant Henn, R.N., with " Galatea," were interesting chiefly because they were of the nature of trials between the heavy plank-pn-edge type of cutter and the prevailing American type of broad light-draught sloop. The contests proved the superiority of the American sloops.

In 1886 the plank-on-edge type was abandoned in England, and when the Scottish yacht " Thistle " was built in 1887 to challenge for the cup it was hoped that she would meet with success.

Thistle," however, although of greater beam and proportionately lighter displacement than such vessels as " Genesta " and " Galatea, was quite easily defeated by the centre-board sloop " Volunteer." Thus once again did the lighter American type prevail even against the modified form of the " Thistle."

The race between the " Thistle " and " Volunteer " of 1887 may be said to have been the last race for the cup wherein there was any marked difference between the type of the boats contesting. In all subsequent races the form of the challenger and defender became approximately similar, but while the types were gradually converging the American yachts were still usually somewhat lighter in displacement than the challengers. The " Thistle " was the first vessel built in Great Britain expressly for the match, and after her race in 1887 the types in fashion on both sides of the Atlantic rapidly converged, and deep-draught fin-keeled vessels with deep fins and light shallow hulls took the place of the former types of the shallow American sloops and deep-keeled wall-sided British cutters. In 1892 some splendid semi-fin-keeled cutters of the new pattern were built in the 4O-rating class for the ordinary English coast regattas, and in 1893 the fin-keel type in England was even more successful. The first .class cutters "Britannia," "Valkyrie II.," " Satanita " and " Calluna," built in 1893, handsomely defeated a Herreshoff yacht, the " Navahoe," which went over from America to race against them. On the strength of the victories of " Valkyrie II." and " Britannia " many British yachtsmen anticipated success for Lord Dunraven when he raced for the America's cup with his cutter " Valkyrie II." in the autumn of 1893. The Americans, however, had built a fine fleet of defenders, " Colonia," " Pilgrim," " Jubilee " and " Vigilant," and the latter beat " Valkyrie II." In the following season the " Vigilant " crossed the Atlantic and raced in British waters in 1894 against the " Britannia," and was frequently beaten. G. L. Watson, who had designed " Thistle " and " Valkyrie II." as well as " Britannia," was commissioned by Lord Dunraven to design " Valkyrie III." specially for an " America's cup " race in 1895. " Valkyrie III." was a very extreme fin-keeled boat, and for the first time the challenger appeared to have outbuilt the defending designer. " Valkyrie III. ' carried 13,027 sq. ft. of sail to the American " Defender's " 12,602. It was said that the Watson boat actually had less displacement. Both were 90 ft. L.W.L., " Valkyrie III." being 129 ft. over all against " Defender's " 123, and " Valkyrie III." 26-2 ft. beam against " Defender's " 23-03 ft. The races were unsatisfactory. In the first race Lord Dunraven claimed that " Valkyrie III." was hampered by the wash of steamers following the race, and his yacht was 8 m. 49 sec. astern. In the second race " Valkyrie " beat " Defender " by 49 seconds on the corrected time and actually by I m. 14 sec., but there was a foul at the start in which " Defender " was partially disabled. On protest the English yacht was disqualified, so that both events counted to " Defender." In the third race Lord Dunraven objected that ballast had been added to the American yacht since measurement, and the " Valkyrie III." merely crossed the line and retired, giving the " Defender " the match.

In 1899. 1901 and 1903 Sir Thomas Lipton tried to win the cup with three very costly and extreme vessels, " Shamrock I.," "Shamrock II." and " Shamrock III." No. I. and No. III. were designed by W. Fife, and No. II. by G. L. "Watson. In 1899 " Shamrock I." was rather easily defeated by " Columbia." In 1901 the Americans were not especially successful in building the vessel which they had prepared to defend the cup, and in the trial races the old 1899 yacht " Columbia," sailed by Captain Charles Barr a half-brother of the skipper of the Scottish yacht " Thistle " defeated the new vessel " Constitution," which had been built for the defence of the trophy for 1901 ; consequently the New York Yacht Club again selected the " Columbia to defend the cup against " Shamrock II." After very close racing the " Columbia " vhich was the better handled boat retained the prize.

The next contest for the cup was in 1903. On this occasion Herreshoff turned out in " Reliance " a wonderful example of a large fin-keeled boat with full pram-bow and light skimming-dish hull. She was of the lightest possible construction (bronze with steel web frames), 90 ft. length L.W.L., 144 ft. length over all, with 16,160 so. ft. of sail area, 25 ft. 10 in. beam, and a draught of 19 ft.

?in. " Reliance " was a far more extreme vessel than " Shamrock II." The latter had a deeper body and a less prammed overhang forward. With the same water-line as " Reliance," the English yacht had rather over a foot less beam. The chief difference in dimensions, however, was in the sail area; " Shamrock III." i carried 14437 sq. ft., or 1823 sq. ft. less than " Reliance." The i result was a very easy victory for the " Reliance."

(B. H.-S.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR