Antique Print of 1901 America Cup Constitution Yacht“Constitution the unlucky !”

As soon as the second challenge of Sir Thomas Lipton was received and accepted, another syndicate was in order, there being hardly a thought as to whether Columbia would be good enough to take Shamrock II's measure. This new syndicate was composed of August Belmont, Oliver H. Payne, ...

... F. G. Bourne, James Stillman, and Henry Walters — all men of ample means who could afford to see that no money was spared on the new boat. Herreshoff again got the order, and with the last successful defender as a guide, he started in on a boat that was confidently expected to be even faster than Columbia.

A full page from the GRAPHIC: The launch of the ConstitutionConstitution, as this new craft was named, was launched at 8.32 o'clock on the evening of May 6th, the same absurd attempts at secrecy on the part of her builders were maintained while she was under construction as in the case of Vigilant, Defender and Columbia, and they were equally ineffectual.

Constitution was put in charge of W. Butler Duncan, Jr. Mr. Duncan, it will be remembered, was in charge of Defender during her trials against Columbia, and he also sailed on the Columbia with Mr. Iselin during the last Cup series.

For captain, Uriah Rhodes was chosen. This was a poor choice, with such a man as Barr in the field, for Rhodes had not had the experience on big racing machines, nor was he as good a helmsman as the other man. Constitution : Rosenfeld CollectionBut there was still some feeling against Barr, both on account of his not being a native born American, and, possibly, on account of his success, though it is not known that this influenced the Constitution syndicate in its selection.

The boat was given sail-stretching trials off Newport from May 29th to June 4th. On the latter date she was dismasted, when standing across from Narragansett Pier toward Brenton Reef light- vessel, close-hauled on the starboard tack, heading about S. E. and well heeled under lower sails only. The wind was fifteen knots S. W., weather clear and sea light.

This mishap kept Constitution at Bristol ten days. Her mast was taken out June 5th, and repairs were begun on it, about ten feet of its length at the point of collapse being rebuilt. On June 24th the yacht was measured by John Hyslop, official measurer of the New York Yacht Club, at Newport. Her water-line was found to be 86.96 feet, and her racing length 104.76, which would give her under the New York Yacht Club rules a sail-spread of 14,290 square feet. The racing length of Columbia in 1899 was 102.13 feet, and of Defender 100.36 feet.

The new boat presented to date several undesirable features, among them a bad balance, which gave her a strong weather helm in a breeze, a badly fitting suit of sails and a badly handled crew. It was expected that these things would be bettered as the season advanced.

Summary of the season's meetings of the American ninety

The season begins with the race of July 1st between Columbia and Constitution and ends with the final trial race.

Columbia and Constitution had twenty-two meetings, including the official trials, and finished eighteen races, in which Columbia won nine and Constitution nine. In the trials Columbia would have won two, had not one been lost on disqualification, while the third was declared off.

Constitution's victories for the season were chiefly in light winds.

Results of trial races for the Defender (corrected time)

Aug. 31 Course 15 miles to windward and return - Brisk wind and a smart sea
  1 Columbia 3h 19' 42"
  2 Constitution -> 4' 19"
Sept. 4
Triangle, ten miles to a leg, the first leg to windward - Moderate breeze from S. S. O.
  1 Columbia 4h 01' 15"
  2 Constitution -> 17"
  Columbia disqualified by the regatta committee for bearing away at the start
Sept. ? The boats would have had to meet again, as each had a race to her credit at the end of the trials. But the special committee decided the same day to select Columbia to defend the Cup without further trials !!!

Mr. Herreshoff was greatly chagrined over the rejection of Constitution. He was quoted in an interview at the beginning of the season as saying Constitution was the fastest yacht he ever designed, and would readily defeat Columbia.
After the trial races, Columbia and Constitution proceeded to Bristol. Constitution was stripped, her mast was lifted out, and she was towed to New London where she was hauled out.

For the defense of 1903, the Constitution syndicate fitted out its boat under Mr. Belmont's management. Captain Rhodes was again given charge of her. In the races of this season, Constitution appeared to better advantage than she had two years before and she wins several races in corrected times.
Yet she never showed consistent form or fully justified the faith of many yachtsmen who believed that she should have been chosen as the defender in 1901. Columbia was not as well handled as when Barr had her, and Constitution was undoubtedly in better shape than during her first season.

December 25, 1908 - FAMOUS CONSTITUTION TO BE BROKEN UP FOR JUNK. The Constitution was high and dry in the yard of the Thames Railway Company, in New London, Conn., since her last race with the Reliance in 1903. There is $25,000 worth of so called junk in the yacht. There are 100 tons of load, 80 tons of bronze, 25 tons of steel, 20 tons of sails and 20 tons of miscellaneous materials, including anchors and chains.

The mast of the Constitution will be used as the foremast of the schooner yacht Katoura, built by Herreshoff for Commodore Robert E. Todd in 1914; the mast of Shamrock III. will be her mainmast.