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AUTEUR : Arthur W. Fowles

REF : 0

EDITION : 1851






A MATCH between these celebrated yachts has for a long time been looked forward to with considerable interest. The event of Monday, August 5th. created almost as much excitement as was manifested in 1851 on the first appearance of the America in our waters. From that period a thorough remodelling of the old school has taken place. Up to that year the Alarm built upon the lines of her owner (Joseph Weld Esq.,) was the fastest cutter yacht afloat, and, owing to the success of the America, Mr. Weld was induced to lengthen his cutter and convert her into a schooner. Ever since her alteration in 1852 she has maintained her reputation against almost everything she has contended with.

This match was originally fixed to take place on the 30th of July, but owing to the Goodwood races occurring that week it was postponed to the 5th of August, the day previous to the Squadron's B^atta. The day at length arrived, and the number of spectators who flocked to witness the start, as well as the 84 vessels of every description " ^from the Royal Yacht with her illustrious freight down to the humble pilot boat which accompanied the match, was sufiicient testimony of the interest and excitement which prevailed.

The following course was adopted: " ^The yachts to start from off the R.Y.S. castle, thence proceed round the Warner Light Vessel, thence to the northwaitl of the Calshot Light Vessel, passing to the northward of the Brambles, outside all the buoys of the Brambles, thence round a Mark vessel moored oflf Egypt, thence to pass between the Station vessel and the Castle, twice round. N. B. " ^All the buoys and mark vessels to be left on the port hand if the yachts start to the eastward, and on the starboard hand if the start be to the westward. To go outside the Noman Buoy.

At early dawn there was a light breeze from the southward, which asL the hour approached for the start, got round to the southward and westward, and continued steady throughout. The two yachts took up their buoys at an early hour, the Alarm to the northward and the America near to the Castle. There they remained for some time by themselves, like two suspicious-looking craft, ready for any daring exploit.

At 10h.55m. the signal was hoisted at the Club semaphore, and the preparatory gun, five minutes before the start, was fired. The yachts* crews, with their loosened sails, were in motion, the halyards were immediately manned, and everything hauled taut. At Ilh. the start was effected. America had her mainsail up in a crack, and was the smartest underway. Feeling the efiect of a balloon jib, she was the first to draw out. In a few moments her sails were set, and she ran through the Roads under foresail, mainsail, balloon jib, and a small main-topmast staysail. The huge canvas of the Alann required more time, but she was soon close upon her port quarter. Both yachts had their staysails down. In this manner they passed through the Roads.

At 1lh.13m they were off Old Castle Point, here the Fairy, with the royal standard at the main, was observed steaming out of Osborne Bay, and took up a position so that the yachts could pass on either side of her. The America was here leading by only a length and in this manner they continued across the bay for about a mile. Off King's Quay the America showed symptoms of greater speed, and increased her distance by a good cable's length " by some judgedsheet let go, and the sail hung suspended at the gaff-end, the jib shaking all the while. At length in the attempt to haul the gaff topsail down, it got adrift and bellied out as a back sail suspended in mid-air by the out-hauler and halyards; at length it appeared that those on board endeavoured to abandon the sail altogether, and the tack was let go, but some how or other, the end got jammed in the sheave, and it was not until after a lapse of eleven minutes that it was cut or let go altogether. Before the America appeared to have recovered herself the Alarm was reaching away through Spit head. At 12h. 50m. she was off Stokes Bay; at 1h. p.m. she tacked towards the island, and in a few minutes afterwards housed her fore topmast and worked to windward, in order to round the Calshot Light Vessel.

All doubt about the result was now at an end. The America at 12h.50m. after losing her gaff-topsail, took in her main-staysail and struck her topmast; she was now a long way astern, and the breach might be counted by miles. At 1h.30m. the Alarm tacked in the fairway, carrying with her the strength of the ebb in working to the northward and westward to round the Calshot vessel, which was effected at 1h.36m.55s. by the Alarm, and at 1h.52m.50s. by America.

It was now thought by all on board that the America was recovering herself, having dispensed with her English jib, and was working down under her three sails with topmast housed. The flood had made, which was against them while working to the westward: at length they rounded the flag-boat off Lepe thus: Alarm 2:15:35 America 2:33:35

From hence they bore away, and passed Cowes Castle, completing the first round of the course as under:" Alarm 2:30:20 | America 2:48:40

When the Alarm completed the first round, the America had not reached the western mark boat.

The second round of the course was proceeded with under similar circumstances, and as the match was virtually at an end it caused scarcely any further interest, and eventually they completed their course by arrival at the goal as follows: " Alarm 5:54:05 America 6:31:10

Alarm being the winner by 37m. 6s.; she was beautifully handled throughout, and great praise is due to her skipper for the tactics he displayed. We cannot say as much of the America, and we cannot look upon this race as any criterion of her powers.

Mr. Weld and his captain, John Nicholls, have now achieved a triumph which they have long desired " some years back before the America was altered by English hands the Alarm could have been backed for 1000 sovereigns against her " (this the Editor H.Y.M. knows for a certainty.) Since the America first came over in 1851, she has been shelfed, and when we saw her in Northfieet dockyard with only a portion of her copper removed we never expected to see her again afloat, she was rotten to the core. Mr. Pitcher having become her proprietor, steps were taken to rebuild her with sound timber, and we hardly think there is much of the original wood in her present composition; but, however the form was preserved, sad innovation has been made in her spars and sails, " her foremast was shortened six feet, mainmast five, her topmast and main-gaff lengthened, her sails made of hemp instead of cotton; whilst the principle of lacing the sails along the boom has been superseded by balloon sails " in addition to which the handling of her was far inferior to the conqueror, which might be expected from a crew principally, it is stated composed of men who joined her for this occasion; and consequently were unable to get her into that trim which was required for this great match.

In 1851 the Alarm was a cutter, she has been altered by her veteran owner, with great ability, no doubt with an expectation of some day being matched against the world-renowned Yankee. The glory of this victory has been shorn of much of its triumph by the above facts, " we regret they were not pitted against each other before the America had been re-built. However, the masterly manner in which the celebrated John Nicholls brought his pet to the goal of his ambition will be a matter of nautical history for future generations to talk of.

In our Illustration our Artist friend, Mr. Fowles of Ryde, has taken them when passing the Quarantine Ground, with Osborne, Her Majesty*s marine residence, and Norris Castle in the distance.


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