The America’s Cup

Following America’s departure back to New York with the “Queen’s Cup” there followed a period of inactivity while the yachting community wondered what to do next. James Ashbury broke the hiatus. In conversation with his friend Gordon Bennett  he was persuaded to challenge for the renamed America’s cup in 1870. 

The 2 had a race across the Atlantic (described  in the section on James Ashbury) which Ashbury won, followed by a single race for the cup in which Ashbury finished 8th;  competing against a fleet of 15 New York Yacht Club (NYYC) yachts.

This was clearly an unsatisfactory situation, so Ashbury challenged again, this time as Commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, prior to his departure for New York, he exchanged telegrams with the NYYC with his proposals for the nature of the challenge. In particular he wanted:

•        Open water windward leeward courses

•        Not to race against centreboarders

•        Racing to be  1 yacht against 1 (match racing to-day)

•        A series of races, rather than a single race: he wished for 12 races, each sailed under a different burgee of the clubs of which he was a member. This was a deal breaker. It is possible that NYYC misinterpreted his intentions, but either way he was told sail under RHYC or go home!

After much bickering the races took place in October 1871. The races are described in James Ashbury, a history (which can be read using the link below), and in Ashbury’s sailing career. They generated world wide interest, and the acrimony under which the series took place led to the NYYC issuing a document explaining their side of events which they distributed to Yacht Clubs all over the world. Unfortunately we have been unable to trace this document, but RHYC holds “Commodore Ashbury’s Reply” and this can be accessed from the links below:

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