Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 20 >> Wittekind to Yttrium >> Yacht_P1


america, built, british, club, yachts, pleasure, york, sailed and boats

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YACHT ( \l Dutch jack t, Dutch jazf, yacht, chase, from jagcn, jag6n, Ger. piaci?, to bunt. chase) AND YACHTING. A yacht is a boat used for pleasure. The prehistorie savage who built the first boat, and used it for his own pleasure owned a yacht. The dugout with an outrigger was the first 'racing machine.' Ships were built and sailed for pleasure in the days of Homer, and at Rhodes. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus (u.c. 283), had S00 thalamegi (pleasure boats), of which some were more than 300 feet long, and were propelled by oars and sails. If the origin of things be considered, modern cruisers are thalamegi; modern racers are yachts.

The first British yacht of which there is dis tinct record was the Mit of Wight, built at Cowes in 15SS. In July, 1660, a Dutch yacht arrived in the Thames and created such an interest in pleasure ships that the King and the Duke of York each built one. The first formal British yacht race of which there b3 a record was held between these two on the lower Thames course, on October 1, 1661.

The Water Club of the Harbor of Cork, first of all yacht clubs, was established in 1720. The Royal Yacht Squadron was founded at Cowes in 1812. But yacht-racing was not universally popular until after 1843, when Queen Victoria began to encourage it by giving cups for racing prizes.

In America a Boston yacht built in 1774 by Lord Percy to demonstrate the value of a centre board on vessels of shoal draught was one of the first on record, though the word yacht, as ap plied to dispatch boats, was in use much earlier. From the earliest times people living along shore in America used various kinds of small boats for pleasure, but yachts fit for a venture beyond headlands are not recorded until the nineteenth century. The ketch-rigged pirogue Trouble, built by John C. Stevens, of Hoboken. N. J., is called the first yacht in the United States.. The first American yacht to gain fame as a racer was the schooner Ware, built by Stevens in 1832. She was 65 feet long and had a wide V-shaped cross section.

The schooner Gimcrack, also a Stevens yacht, is notable because she had a plate of iron 12 feet long and 4 feet deep fastened to her keel as a fin, to serve as ballast and give lateral plane—the first fin-keel yacht. On July 30, 1844, the New York Yacht Club was organized in her cabin. This is called the first American yacht club. The New York Yacht Club bagan with eight yachts. Its first home was a wooden struc ture on the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, N. J. his first races were sailed on the Hudson. In 1903 its home was in the finest yacht club house in the world, and its fleet numbered 551, of which several were steamers nearly twice as large as any merchant ship afloat in 1844. Its record is illustrative of the growth of yachting in Amer ica.

In 1S50 an English merchant wrote to friends in America suggesting that one of New York's famous pilot boats be sent to England to take part in certain yacht races that were to be sailed during the time of a great fidernationa I exposi tion to be held in London in 1851. In answer to this invitation a syndicate of members of the New York Yacht Club (wilt the schooner Amer ica, of 170 tons measurement. The _Interim. ar rived at Cowes, England, on ‘luly 31, 1851, and on August 22d sailed against IS yachts belong ing to the Royal Yacht Squadron in a race around the Isle of Wight. The fleet included cutters of from 47 to 193 tons and schooners of from 75 to 392 tons, and there was no time al lowance for either rig or size. The prize, a silver cup, valued at 1100, which the Royal Yacht Squadron had offered for a race free to the yachts of all nations, was won by the America. The owner of the America presented this cup (July 8, 1857) to the New York Yacht Club, to be held thereafter as the trophy of the yachting suprem acy of the world.

With the construction and the victory of the America began the evolution of the modern racer. The America was designed by George Steers. Her distinguishing features were: A sharp, vertical-wedge bow that showed slight hollows in its lines; the centre of buoyancy well aft; the turn of the bilges high. The sections showed great deadrise with straight lines from the bilges to the garboards; her heel was low under water, and her toe well op; her sails were cut to stand flat and were laced to booms to keep them so. The British yacht of the day had a 'cod's head and a mackerel tail the centre of buoyancy was well forward; the under-water body was round like a barrel: the sails were of loose-woven flax that bagged like a purse net. Thomas Waterman, a British designer, had built a yacht, the Mosquito, on lines remotely similar to those of the .tmerica, but his countrymen hail ignored him. When the America had beaten every yacht they matched against her, however, the British yachtsmen at once began lengthening the bows of their racers and flattening their canvas.. But before the im provements then begun could be fully carried out by British yachtsmen, an arbitrary rule of meas urement was adopted that greatly influenced Because large yachts had obvious advantages in races with small ones, unless the wind was light and variable, the British yachtsmen agreed to handicap the big ones by a number of seconds for each ton of difference in custom-house meas urement. The rule for obtaining this measure ment was: Subtract the breadth of the hull from the length of the keel, multiply the remainder by the breadth of the hull, that product by half the breadth, and divide the final product by 94.

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