Speakers: Robert S. Childs, Chairman of The Bermuda Society and Chairman of Hiscox and George Fergusson, Vice Chairman of The Bermuda Society and Governor of Bermuda 2012-2016
Date: Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Venue: Guildhall, Gresham Street, City of London, EC2V 7HH
Time: 12 noon – Annual General Meeting
12.30 till 2.30 pm – Reception and Annual Lunch
Chair: Robert S. Childs, Chairman of The Bermuda Society and Chairman of Hiscox
George Fergusson gave a personal account of the build-up to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup 2017 from Bermuda’s perspective, including the excitement of getting the hosting rights as confirmed at a press conference in New York on 02Dec2014 – the World Series Racing that took place in Portsmouth, UK during July 2015; in Gothenburg, Sweden during August 2015; in Hamilton, Bermuda during October 2015; in Muscat, Oman during February 2016; in New York, USA during May 2016; in Chicago, USA during June 2016; in Portsmouth, UK during July 2016; in Toulon, France during September 2016; and Fukuoka, Japan during November 2016 – and the arrival and basing of the various teams in Bermuda for the Qualifiers and Cup Match Final held on 26 June 2017 which culminated with a win for the Emirates Team New Zealand over the defender, Oracle Team USA.
He also gave his impressions of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup during his visit to Bermuda from 08-13 June 2017 – including the excitement he felt upon being invited to board Land Rover BAR and his trepidation when moving across the base of the catamaran.
George closed his remarks by stating his hope that the plethora of luxury yachts filling the docksides, bays, moorings and marinas throughout Bermuda to experience the America’s Cup – Bermuda 2017 will return as frequent visitors to the Island having been so impressed with the show put on by Bermuda.
Robert Childs gave the audience a flavour of the history of The America’s Cup – affectionately known as the “Auld Mug” – from the initial vessel America.
The America was built for a syndicate of members of the New York Yacht Club who decided to build a state-of-the-art schooner to compete against British ships in conjunction with England’s Great Exhibition of 1851 – the brainchild of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria; this Exhibition was designed to show off to the world the best of everything British.
Designed by the American, George Steers – the 100-foot, black-hulled America had a sharp bow, a V bottom, and tall masts making it strikingly different from the traditional yachts of the day and was to show off to the British the best of America.
In May 1851, the Royal Yacht Squadron decided to hold a race on 22nd August during the club’s Regatta, which would be open to yachts of clubs of all nations. This first such race was arranged so that America could take part if she came to England – Royal Yacht Squadron races were normally open only to their own yachts.
In June 1851, the America set sail from its shipyard on New York City’s East River, bound for England – the purpose of the visit was two-fold: to show off U.S. shipbuilding skill and make money through competing in yachting regattas.
After being outfitted and repainted in Le Havre, the America sailed to Cowes on the Isle of Wight – arriving on 25th July. America attracted enormous interest among yachtsmen, shipbuilders and boatmen, and among the local population generally – the hollow bow she sported had first been seen on a Royal Yacht Squadron yacht in 1827, but her almost wedge shape was unfamiliar. Her steeply raked masts with their taut sails were subsequently reckoned by many to be the main reason for her speed in a strong wind.
On 22nd August, the America joined 14 British ships for the Royal Yacht Squadron’s race around the Isle of Wight – the prize was for a Cup of One Hundred Sovereigns.
In the 53-mile race, the America trounced the competition. The Queen watched the race from her royal yacht and when asked about yachts following America up the Needles Channel, she was reputedly told “Your Majesty, there is no second.”.
The cup itself – a bottomless silver ewer weighing 134 ounces and standing 27 inches high – was purchased from Robert Garrard, the jeweller in 1848 and subsequently presented to the Royal Yacht Squadron by Lord Anglesey, who – as Lord Uxbridge – had been a founder member of the club in 1815.
In 1857, the cup was presented to the New York Yacht Club as a perpetual international challenge trophy – it was not until 1870 that it was first raced for as The America Cup; known today, of course, as The America’s Cup – it is the oldest international sporting trophy.
From 1870 until the late 20th century, New York Yacht Club sponsored U.S. yachts which successfully defended The America’s Cup 24 times – in 1983, the United States lost the trophy for the first time in 132 years when Australia II defeated Liberty off Newport, Rhode Island.
27 June 2017