The First Race for the America's Cup, a pair the first entitled Passing Ryde Pier and showing the schooner yacht Aurora leading the America; the second entitled America leading Aurora off Osborne and showing America ahead and to leeward of Aurora. the first signed on the lower left "H. Sargeant"; the second unsigned. oil on board 11 x 15 in. (28 x 38 cm.) each.
Provenence: - with Hirschl & Adler Gallery, NY - an unknown collector - sale, Sotheby's, 6 March 1987 - with N.R. Omell Gallery, London - to the current owner
On Friday, August 22, 1851, America sailed against 14 English cutters and schooners of various sizes: from the 47-ton cutter Aurora to the 392-ton Brilliant. America was in the middle at approximately 170 tons. In keeping with the custom of the day, the race started with the yachts anchored, at exactly 10:00 a.m. America overran her anchor and was last to start. The first leg was downwind in very light air, and America, enjoyed the building breeze and caught the fleet. At the first mark, at Noman's buoy, America was fifth. The next leg was a reach. Here, America, took the lead.
The usual course when racing around the Isle of Wight was to round the Nab Light Vessel. However, the printed instructions given to America, only said, it was to be "Round the Isle of Wight, inside Noman's buoy and Sandhead buoy, and outside the Nab." Thus America, rounded a white buoy, inside the lightship; the other boats sailed the longer course. Next, came a 15-mile upwind leg to St. Catherines Point. Next, it was a reach to the Needles. There "the wind fell and the haze set in," according to the Illustrated London News. At 6:00 pm, America, neared the 223-foot royal yacht, Victoria & Albert, Queen Victoria supposedly asked, "Who is first?" When told it was America, she asked, "Who is second?" "There is no second," was the reply. This line -- apocryphal or not -- became a standard for the race.
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