Category: 1876 : CHALLENGE N°3

The Madeleine’s VictoryTHE MADELEINE'S VICTORY
A brilliant Race Very Handsomely Contested

After the disappointing showing made by his boat in the Brenton Reef race. Major Gifford, her managing owner, asked for a postponement to give him time to get some new light sails made, and it was finally arranged to start the first race, which was to be over the regular New York Yacht Club inside course, on August 11th.

The Lower Bay Again White with the Sails of the Pretty Racers

The sun., August 12, 1876: The first race for the coveted Queen' Cup, or more properly the America Challenge Cup, was sailed yesterday. To the schooner Madeleine was entrusted the task of maintaining the honor of the America yachting ensign, and the Canadian yacht Countess of Dufferin entered the lists to wrest the trophy from our hands if possible. The dimensions of the Madeleine are 151.49 tons old measurement; length over all, 106.04; on water line, 95.02; beam, 24.03; depth of hold, 7.75; draft 7.28; cubic contents, 8499.17. The Canadian is of 138.02 tons length, 100.85 over all, and 81.53 on the water line, 23.55 beam, 7.30 depth of hold, 7.10 draft, 9028.04 cubic contents. The Canadian gave the Madeleine 1 min. 1 sec, time allowance.

At the hour for the start the Narrows were white with the sails of nearly a hundred of our finest yachts, and among them were more than a score of steamers and unnumbered small sail and rowboats. The Madeleine crossed the line at 11:16:31 and the Countess of Dufferin at 11:17:06. It was a dead beat down to the South West Spit against both tide and wind. Both yachts had the usual lower sails with working foretopsail and club maintopsail. In addition the Canadian set a jib topsail, probably to balance her and make her steer better, as such a sail as a rule only retards a boat in sailing by wind.

1876StartM1The course was from off the club house 9¼ miles south, ½ west to the southwest spit, thence 8½ miles east by south, ½ south to the Sandy Hook lightship and return to buoy 15 on the west bank, just below the Narrows.

Both yachts went by on the port tack and made a short stretch to near the third landing, and made a leg on the starboard tack to the Long Island shore. The Countess showed herself on the first tack she made very quickly in stays, beating the Madeleine in that respect. Every time she went about the spun round like a top in a way that excited admiration. Passing the Narrows the Madeleine set her main topmast staysail but the experiment was unsuccessful, and the sail was soon sent down on deck. The Countess on the tack pointed better than the Madeleine, but for the rest of the way to the Spit if there was any advantage in this respect it was with the Madeleine.

At 11:30 the Madeleine tacked, and here the Canadian made her first mistake in going about under her lee instead of standing of on a little further. The port tack was a long one, and as the yachts stretched over toward Fort Wadsworth the Madeleine lengthened out her short lead a trifle. At 11:38 the Madeleine went in stays and stood over again toward the Long Island shore while the Countess made a long stretch way in toward the Staten Island shore, instead of closely hanging on to the Madeleine as her quickness in tacking would have allowed her easily to do. The Madeleine tacked and stood toward the western shore at 11:43, and the Countess went about a minute later, and stretched across to the east, the Madeleine leading by just an eighth of a mile.

"Madeleine: Defender of the America's Cup, 1876"

At 11:50 the Madeleine went about on the starboard tack, and at 11:53:20 the Countess followed on the opposite tack. And here, the Countess made a serious error. The tide was still running flood strong, and while the Madeleine made a long stretch into Gravesend Bay, and got out of its way, the Countess stood right out in its full strength, far over to the West Bank. Thus the yachts continued on opposite tacks until 12:06:30, when both went in stays at the same time. The Madeleine’s Captain was too smart to stand out far and went about and stood to the eastward again. Both were now on the same tack, and it was seen that the Madeleine had a clear lead of three-quarters of a mile.

It was hot work, and the Canadian would undoubtedly have been on the Madeleine heels but for her error in sailing against a strong tide. It now begins to breeze up, and the two contestants danced across the Lower Bay. At 12:18 the Madeleine went in stays, and started on a long leg for the Southwest Spit, the Countess following four minutes later. Off the hospital ship the Madeleine had increased her lead to nearly a mile and a half, and was momentarily gaining. At 1 P.M. she was steel standing on to the westward, so as to be able to weather the Spit Buoy. At 1:19 she ended her long leg to the westward, and went about on the starboard tack, and headed for Buoy 10. At 1:19:30 the Countess followed suit. The Madeleine turned the mark at 1:19:19, the Countess following 7 minutes 13 seconds later, at 1:26:32.

At 1:25 the Madeleine made a short tack in order to weather Buoy 8½, and pass it to the southward as prescribed. The Countess followed suit. At 1:25 the Madeleine rattled by the point of the Hook, with the lead a trifle lessened. 

00231SAt 1:37 the Countess took in her jib topsail but soon set it again. At 1:54 she slyly broke tacks with the Madeleine, and stood to the southward to cXten the ebb down the Jersey beach, the Madeleine did likewise. At 2:10 both went about, and stood out toward the Lightship. During the next half hour the Countess gained considerably on the Madeleine. At 2:41 the Madeleine had plenty of room toweather the Lightship, and stood for that rusty old craft. As she did so, she run up a big square headed foretopsail, and got ready to set a jib topsail. Three minutes later the Countess spin around after her.

Near the Lightship was a fleet of steamers every one of which let loose its steam whistle as the Madeleine rounded at 2:51:52, and lifting sheets and pilling on canvas started for home. The Countess turned at 2:56:33 and was also saluted. She had gained 2 min. 32 sec. on the run out from the Southwest Spit. The Countess lost time in setting her kites.

On the run back to the point of the Hook the Madeleine regained all the distance she had lost on the run out. Buoy 5½ was passed by the Madeleine at 3:45:37 and by the Countess at 3:53:19. The Madeleine then turned buoy 10 at 3:57:28, and jibing everything over all standing she whirled across the lower bay at a rate of speed that increased her lead every minute. There was no time to spare to take the time of the Countess, and the judges’ steamer Gladwish crowded on all steam for the finish. The Madeleine was off the Hospital ship at 4:15, with the Countess behind. Her efforts to forge up on the Madeleine, though gallantly made, were fruitless. The Madeleine continued to increase her lead, and finished at 4:41:26,winner of the first race for the cup. The Countess arrived at 4:51:59.

The Madeleine thus beats the Canadian yacht 9 min.58 sec. actual, and 10 min. 59 sec. corrected time.