Category: 1876 : CHALLENGE N°3

Countess of Dufferin ready for launching at CobourgThe English offside

After Mr. Ashbury, with his letter writing propensities, had departed, the New York Yacht Club came in for some pretty-severe criticism in England — criticism which the facts, especially as to the last series, did not warrant. The club had conceded many points beyond those imposed under the strict wording...

...of the deed of trust and had shown Livonia’s owner much consideration in face of a persistent and trying controversy over details; and while the sporting odds were still largely in our favor and the terms were not entirely what we would call fair and sportsmanlike in the light of present day standards.

Mr. Ashbury had accepted the conditions agreed upon before starting and should have taken his defeat in better part. Even some of the English sporting papers did not support him in many of his absurd claims.

However, the feeling engendered was sufficient to keep any other English yachtsman from attempting to lift the Cup for many years; and when the next challenge was received it was from an entirely different quarter.

The challenge du Royal Canadian Yacht Club of Toronto

Five years passed until, in the spring of 1876, a letter was received by the New York Yacht Club from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club of Toronto, challenging in behalf of Canada for a race that summer and asking the club to waive the six months' notice. The yacht named by the Canadians was the schooner Countess of Dufferin, owned by a syndicate headed by the vice-commodore of the club, Major Charles Gifford with John Bell, Murray Geddes and the brotherss Fred and Allan Lucas.

The New York Yacht Club was ready for a race and not only waived the six months' clause, but offered a series of three races instead of one, in July, one of them to be over the inside course, one over the outside, and the third to be determined by lot. It also gave Major Gifford the privilege, if he preferred, of sailing the races in the open water off Newport after the annual cruise.

"Harper's Weekly Supplement" dated October 30, 1886

The obligation to choose only one Defender

But Major Gifford asked even more than this and wanted the New York Yacht Club to name one boat only to meet the Canadian yacht, instead of a number of boats, one of which was to be picked the day of the race. His position, as he stated it, was that he had to name one boat which had to take all the chances as to light or heavy weather, and it was only fair to have the defenders do the same.

He was asking only what would be considered to-day a "square deal" and though under the terms by which it held the Cup the New York Yacht Club could have refused this demand if it saw fit, it is gratifying to note that by a vote of eleven to five it acceded to the challenger's request. Ever since then the club has followed this course and picked one boat only to meet a foreign yacht in races for the Cup, an action that undoubtedly was in line with the sportsmanlike spirit and intent of the original donors. There was a good deal of discussion of the matter at the time, some of the newspaper writers praising the club for its action and others blaming it, holding that Major Gifford should have been content with the same terms under which Mr. Ashbury raced, and insisting that in a yacht race it was perfectly legitimate for a club to accord to the other fellow just as little as possible, a position that is, fortunately, no longer tenable in the light of present day sporting ethics.