So deck the streets with Union Jacks,
And Ensigns of the fleet,
The Jolly-boys are here again,
You can't walk down the street.1
This summer, the greatest sailing event ever took place on an Island off the Southern Coast of England. Yes, The America's Cup Jubilee at Cowes took place barely a fortnight after Cowes Week, proving once and for all that the home of World Sailing is at Cowes.
The America's Cup 150th Jubilee
The America's Cup Jubilee was a celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the oldest sailing race, the around-the-Island race that took place on August 22nd, 1851. This race was won by the yacht America. In order to celebrate this anniversary, the America's Cup Jubilee Regatta took place, attracting over 200 of the world's most beautiful yachts.
Only seven countries in the world have ever succesfully reached the finals to compete for the America's Cup; these are, in alphabetical order: Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the USA. 14 yachts that have competed in or won the America's Cup raced at Cowes for the Jubilee, including:
- America - An exact replica of the original America, the yacht which started it all.
- Partridge - Which, despite not having raced for the America's Cup itself, was designed in 1885 by J. Beavor Webb, who designed the America's Cup Challengers of 1885 and 1886, Genesta and Galatea.
- Endeavour - Britain's almost-succesful 1934 Challenge2.
- Shamrock V - The 1930 Irish Challenger.
- Intrepid - The American Defender of 1967 and 1970.
- Lionheart - From Britain's unsuccesful 1979 GBR Challenge.
- Freedom - The American Defender of 1980.
- Australia II - The Australian challenger from 1983.
- Crusader - From Britain's 1987 America's Cup Challenge.
- America3 - Won the 1992 America's Cup Challenge against Italy.
- Il Moro - Which, in 1992, lost to America3.
- Luna Rossa - The Italian 2000 challenger.
The Austrlia II was taken, after a massive campaign to raise sponsorship money, specially out of a museum for the event, and crewed by the crew which won the cup back in 1987, including campaign promoter Alan Bond.
This is the first time skipper John Betrand and his crew have sailed together since 1983.
Australia II was the first yacht to take the America's Cup away from the USA, yet in the Jubilee she failed to repeat her triumph - the 12-metre class race was won by her compatriot, Southern Australia II.
Several unique and historic silver trophies were awarded. Including the Royal Yacht Squadren Trophy, won by King George V in Britannia in 1920, which was be awarded to the overall winner of the week. A locally made solid silver trophy - the Benzie Trophy, worth £48,000, was awarded to the boat with the shortest-elapsed time in the round-the-Island Race. This is a two-foot long trophy shows the America true to scale. There will be other prizes for the winning 12 metre yacht, best J-class yacht, best classic and Vintage yacht and orther prizes awarded daily.
The America's Cup itself will also be present, the current holders, New Zealand, displayed it, guarded by a Maori escort.
Commodore Peter Taylor of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadren unfairly commented "This is the only way the cup will get back to Cowes."
On Tuesday, the fleet of 201 yachts took place in the east-abouts round-the-Island race in a recreation of the original race. The first ship back was the 92ft Stealth, owned by Fiat boss Gianni Angnelli, after 4 hours, 48 minutes. 2nd place was Mari Cha II, followed by Morning Glory, and Skandia Lepoard, the yacht which set a new round-the-Island monohull record of 4 hours and 5 minutes in this year's Hoya Round-The-Island Race, came fourth.
The GBR Challenge campaign also proved it is able to win, as in it's first races, the newly-formed GBR Challenge team beat both the cup holders New Zealand, the American team and last-time's challengers Italy. In the Round-the-Island Race, GBR Challenge's GBR52 beat Italy's Luna Rossa in a neck-and-neck race to the finish line. If the trainee crew can do so well on board a practice yacht, there is a strong chance for them to win the
America's Cup in 2003.
On display during the Americas Cup Jubilee, yet not racing, is an exact replica of the America. What, then, happened to the original?
Sadly, many of the details about her subsequesnt life, especially
concerning exact dates, are lost, yet a general knowledge of her life is known.
After winning the first race, the New York Yacht Club decided to make the most out of her reputation, and to make back the money they had invested in her, by selling her in 1851 for an unspecified sum to a Mr J. Rills, who re-named her Camilla. During the American Civil War, the Camillia returned to America, and was renamed "The Memphis", and served as a racer, cruiser and blockade runner in the US Navy for many years.
General Benjamin F. Butler later bought her from the Navy Department and restored her name to "America", and he sailed with her until her last sailing in 1901. From then until around 1941, she was stored in a shed in Annapolis, Maryland, until one winter a heavy snowfall caused the shed to collapse and destroy her.
Although many parts of the America still exist, the yacht was never re-built, although many replicas have been. The replica that was in Cowes for the America's Cup Jubilee helped begin the Jubilee by firing a single gun as a return salute to the Royal Yacht Squadren's cannon.
And the Royal Yacht Squadren is the place
Where Yachties like to be
Subscriptions are enormous,
Just to mix with royalty.
And it's champagne dinners every night,
And racing every day,
And off into the ballroom,
To rave the night away.
In many of the world's press, the America's Cup has, sadly, been
overshadowed by those attending. From the start it was inevitable that the people who own the multi-million pound yachts that are taking part would be multi-millionaires. Although Islanders suffered as parts of Cowes were roped off and excluded from the events, despite many of the events paid for out of the council tax.
And they gather here from overseas,
Converging on our town,
Italians, French and Portugeuse,
It really gets you down.3
However, the list of the people who were on the Island is impressive, if you are the type to be impressed by people with large wallets. It includes Royalty, such as Prince Philip and the Princess Royal of the United Kingdom, Prince Henrik of Denmark, King Juan Carlos of Spain, His Highness The Aga Khan, a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad and grandson of the founder of the United Nations.
Other, mere millionaires, attending included Ted Turner, founder of the CNN news network and skipper of Courageous, the yacht which succesfully defended the cup in 1977 against Alan Bond's Australia, another attendee who won the cup in 1983 with
Australia II. Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, of the millionaires is Bill Gates, who probably has the least Nautical skill. However, if the next release of Windows is named Portholes, you know why.
So gather round you businessmen
And double up your stock
And you should all make your fortunes
When the yachties come in Dock.
The Isle of Wight economy is believed to have made over £25,000,000 over the America's Cup Jubilee, with hotels across the Island, the mainland, and even cruise liners at anchor in the Solent as floating hotels. Multi-millionaire William Koch, who owns both America3, which he skippered to win the cup in 1992, and the Il Morro, the Italian Yacht that challenged
it, decided to buy 31 bottles of Cognac, for a cost of £310,000.
Other souvenirs of the event on sale are a limited edition of 20 half-sized solid-silver America's Cups, costing £17,500 each, by the Royal Jewellers Aprey & Garrard, the jewellers which made the 100 Guinnea original in 1848. Or you could buy a hand-made model of some of the yachts that have raced for the Cup, starting at £1,000 each. Or, like me, you could go for a key ring for £2:50, or a hat or T-shirt.
They're off down to the water's edge
To brave the briney deep
And then they'll all go home,
And Cowes will go on back to sleep.
Man Waits For Time And Tide
The America's Cup Jubilee took place during this year's lowest tide. Yachts were often in areas with depths of less than 4 foot. Yet to many Islanders, the tide was an advantage.
On Tuesday, the day of the Round-The-Island race, the annual Brambles Bank Cricket match took place. This is a match between the Island Sailing Club and the Royal Southern Yacht Club which takes place for roughly around an hour at a sand bank which for 365 days and 23 hours of the year is beneath the Solent, marked only by a bouy and red post. Many sailors from the America's Cup Jubilee sailed nearby to spectate, and an Island-built AP-88 hovercraft also looked on. Luckily, as tradition states, the host team always wins the match, which this year was the Island Yacht Club. After roughly an hour, the tide returned to re-claim the bank, the next match to be held at low tide next year.
The low tide also made possible the annual walk to St. Helen's Fort a day earlier on Monday. The sea fort was built by Lord Palmerston between 1867 and 1880 as a defence against the French Invasion fear which also led to the construction of HMS Warrior. Only on the lowest tide is it possible to walk to, and the annual walk to the fort, which started decades ago by a
small number of friends, was this year enjoyed by thousands who were up to their waists in water at one point.
The St Helen's Fort Walk is known for being spontaneous. Traditionally, no-one organises or plans the event, yet thousands turn up on the right day at the right time regardless.
Southampton Waterfront Week
If you are stuck on the mainland, then fear not, for you too are able to take part. In Southampton, Waterfront Week from the 14th to the 23rd September, features the 33rd Southampton Boat Show at Mayflower Park4, and on the 23rd the Volvo Ocean Race leaves Ocean Village for a 33,000 nautical mile journey down the Atlantic to Antarctica, into the Pacific towards Cape Horn and then re-entering the Atlantic on route to the Baltic.
To celebrate the Ocean Race there will be live bands, street theatre and on Saturday the 22nd will be the Power In The Port concert as well as Proms on the Waterfront on the 15th, plus firework displays. The eight Volvo racers can be seen, and you can experience what life is like onboard the vessels at special exhibitions and displays. All these events are completely free.
At the Boat Show over 850 boats will be on display, including the UK's premiere of the Bond Boat collection. This includes the speedboat that set a world record leaping the sheriff's car in "Live And Let Die", the "Bath-o-sub" used by Blofeld in "Diamonds Are Forever", the boat from "The World Is Not Enough" and the world's first aqua-bike from "The Spy Who Loved Me". Entry costs £11 for Adults, and among the highlights will be the chance to meet Isle of Wight sailing legend Ellen MacArthur and her yachts Kingfisher and Iduna. GBR 41, the GBR Challenge's training yacht, will also be on display.
GBR Challenge, Britain's first attempt at winning the America's Cup since 1987, is based at Cowes thanks to local Cowes hilanthropist Peter Harrison. Peter Harrison not only bought the former FBM oatyard site at Cowes, but also Japan's 3 America's Cup Class Yachts from its unsuccesful 2000 challenge to use as practice yachts, two of which took place in the America's Cup Jubilee.
The former derelist boatyard in Cowes has been transformed, as the yacht which will actually make the challenge is being designed and will be constructed for a launch date in April. Gym facilities have also been installed to keep the Olympic Gold medalists in shape. After the America's Cup, the site is to be developed into a centre of marine excellence for building and maintaining large yachts.
The new GBR Challenge yacht will then sail to New Zealand in June for the Louis Vuitton BriCup series, the winner of which will challenge New Zealand for the America's Cup in 2003.