Countess of Dufferin ready for launching at CobourgThe last of the challenging schooners for America's Cup

The first Canadian challenge was received in April, 1876, from Major Charles Gifford, vice commodore of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club of Toronto, who was the head of a syndicate or stock company, formed to build the Countess of Dufferin.

Capt. Alexander Cuthbert, of Cobourg, Ontario, a member of the syndicate, was designer and builder of the challenger, which was in frame at Cobourg when the challenge was sent. Capt. Cuthbert had turned out several models that showed speed, and the Canadians had faith in his ability to produce a vessel fast enough to compete with some show of success for the America's cup.

She was thus described in a provincial paper while en mutes:

She is 107 feet long over all, 24 feet beam, and will only draw 6 1/2 feet when in racing trim. Her mainmast is 65 feet and her topmast 30 feet long. She carries a main-boom 55 feet in length, and will spread nearly 4000 yards of canvas. She has plenty of sheer, and is as handsome a yacht, taking her all around, as we ever saw. Her hull is painted black and her decks of a light straw-color. Her internal arrangements are very good; she is 221 tons register, but is so sharp fore and aft as to make her room less available; however, she will accommodate eight in her cabins. Her counters are pared away very much, and her stern overhangs 11 feet. This, with a rakish bow, gives her a dashing appearance.

Madeleine weathering Countess of DufferinFrom such notices as this, and reports of her speed received from seaports in the provinces, New York prepared itself to see a formidable vessel, investing the stranger with those attributes of prowess which defenders of a citadel are wont to attribute to an aggressive foe. It was ever thus in yacht racing, as in other matters of human effort. Romance hangs on every sail in the horizon except our own, says Emerson. But the halo of romance around the Countess vanished when she arrived in New York. The yachting barnacles of the coast jeered at her. She had "fresh water" written all over her, and this, in the eyes of the salts, was a crime. Her sails were said to "set like a purser's shirt on a handspike." Her hull lacked finish, being "as rough as a nut-meg grater," old salts declared, and she had little of the shipshape appearance expected of a cup challenger.

The Countess of Dufferin was in no sense a national type, and was even less typical of the marine whose flag she flew than was Livonia. Her model was American, the ideas embodied in it having been obtained by Capt. Cuthbert, according to general belief, from a design by P. McGiehan, a boat builder of Pamrapo, N. J., who had built a sloop yacht called the Cora for a Canadian yachtsman, which had proved the fastest boat on the lakes. Mr. Cuthbert set about to beat the Cora, and did so with the sloop Annie Cuthbert, which embodied many of her lines. The Countess of Dufferin was an enlarged Annie Cuthbert.



Countess of Dufferin : DATA TABLE
Designer Capitaine Alexander Cuthbert
Builder Capitaine Alexander Cuthbert
Owner Major Charles Gifford (syndicat)
Club Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Cup Edition 3(1876)
Skipper Capitaine Alexander Cuthbert
Afterguard Capt. "Joe" Elsworth - Captains
Samuel Greenwood and J.B. Bretherton
Launching 1876
Type Centerboard schooner
Hull material Wood
Mast material Wood
L.O.A. 32,61 m
L.W.L. 29,12 m
Beam 7,25 m
Draft 1,95 / 5,48 m


22,40 m


Mainboom 19,20 m Bowsprit 4,57 / 12,60 m
Maintopmast 10,30 m Foretopmast 9,85
Maingaff   Foregaff  
Displacement 138,2 tons
Sail area 744 m2
Rating 9028,40
End of life 1893 at Chicago: towed out of the
breakwater and sank


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