Category: 1885 : CHALLENGE N°5

Lieutenant W. Henn and Mrs., owners of the cutter GalateaOne letter for two challenges

No one seemed in a desperate hurry to challenge for the bit of silver, however, and though several rumors of a possible match were heard, it was nearly three years later, or not until December, 1884, that the gauntlet was actually taken up.

On the 20th of that month a letter was received by the club from Mr. J. Beavor Webb, a British designer, giving notice that a challenge for the Americas Cup would be forthcoming for a race in the summer of 1885, from Sir Richard Sutton, owner of the cutter Genesta, and from Lieutenant W. Henn, of the Royal Navy, owner of the cutter Galatea, then building, both boats being of Mr. Beavor Webb's design.


This letter was followed later by an official challenge proposing two matches, the first between Genesta and an American boat, and in the event of the New York Yacht Club retaining the Cup, then a second match between the Galatea and an American yacht. It was proposed that each match should consist of a series of three races, and the challengers asked that all of them be held outside Sandy Hook, clear of headlands.

This challenge was accepted promptly, though it meant that the New York Yacht Club had to win twice to retain the Cup, while if the Englishmen won either match the Cup would go home with them; and on March 10th the club cabled to this effect, agreeing to waive the required six months' notice in the case of Galatea, in the event of Genesta losing, and to race Galatea later in the same season. The club offered one race over the New York Yacht Club inside course and two outside, and suggested a seven hour time limit on each race. It also agreed to name its representative yacht a week before the first race.

After some correspondence regarding the matter of time allowance, Beavor Webb asking that the mean of the New York Yacht Club and English allowance tables be used, the matter was left to a referee, Mr. George L. Schuyler, whose decision was that "in a race for the America's Cup, whatever terms may be mutually agreed upon in other respects, the time allowance should be made according to the rules of the club in possession".

Thus the terms were satisfactorily arranged and the New York Yacht Club proceeded to set about plans for defense with two races staring them in the face.

This was the first time a large English cutter had challenged for the Cup, and there were not only no sloops of that size in this country, but sloop design in America was in a somewhat chaotic state owing to several causes which should be narrated briefly.