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racing her inside, or round the Isle of Wight. If, however, he had started it would have put such a conclusion to a practical test, and we should have been favoured with an opportunity of judging the merits of American yachts, as compared with our own, when sailing on a good working breeze and moderately rough sea. It is sheer nonsense and unmeaning boasting to talk of a three thousand miles course as a means of testing the speed and qualities of such vessels, and one that requires as much sea room as a liner to work in, is scarcely worthy of the name of a racing yacht. But whatever the alleged advantages of the Atlantic course are for American yachts, it is probable that Mr. Bennett is by this time convinced that, if strong winds and heavy seas were the only conditions required of such a course, they might be found without going farther than the short channel passage to Dieppe. Mr. Bennett might have declined the Solent contests solely on the ground that his yacht would be measured and timed by the absurd Thames rule : still he could have objected to this rule, and then perhaps the whole question of measurement for classing in races would have been practically considered and definitely settled. But, be this as it may, had she started simply as an experiment to discover what she really could do with our yachts, we should have been satisfied; as it was, we were forced to the conclusion that there are no more Americas," and that Commodore Steven's renowned schooner has been succeeded by mere floating hotels. We have no reason to think, beyond the authority of the New York papers, that the American yachts visited this country for any purpose beyond the ordinary one of cruising. This, perhaps, is the true explanation of what has appeared to be supine ness on the part of their owners; and it is highly gratifying to reflect on the manner their astute yachtsmen have mocked the lavish scribes of trans-Atlantic bunkum. If this be really the case, we truly pity the owner of the Meteor, as her trials and victories have been heralded and anticipated even more blatantly than the illusive ones of the Dauntless and Sappho. We are, however, inclined to a belief that the American gentlemen who run across the Atlantic in their yachts in so many days, hours, and minutes—we forget how few-did intend sailing matches, as they came across with racing spars and canvas, and intend reducing them for the return voyage. Nevertheless, they must have been fully determined to make a correct estimation of their winning chances before they entered upon any contest; and we are afraid it must be admitted that the balance of chances was found to be against them. It seems, judging from a letter published in a contemporary-we are not aware if
the letter was written by Mr. Bennett, but it evidently has his authority for its expressions—that the owner of the Dauntless is particularly anxious it should be known that he had not the temerity to challenge the Cambria first or last. The letter in question says :
“SIR, - Will you allow me to correct a misstatement in your paragraph regarding the proposed International Atlantic Yacht Race? The challenge for such a race came from the owner of the Cambria, and not from the owner of the Dauntless. Early last winter Mr. Ashbury issued a series of challenges to American yachts, one of which was for a race from Cowes to New York, leaving Cowes Sept. 1. This was accepted by the owner of the Dauntless, but Mr. Ashbury declined to sail against that vessel. After the arrival of the Dauntless in England, however, Mr. Ashbury challenged her to an ocean race to New York. Her owner accepted the challenge, and, as he was entitled to do as the challenged party, named Sept. 15 as the day of starting. That did not suit Mr. Ashbury, who objected to encounter the supposed dangers of the equinoctial gales, and this is the true reason why the Atlantic race did not take place. The owner of the Dauntless then proposed to race the Cambria to Madeira, sailing on Sept. I, as both vessels could prepare themselves for such a race by that day. This was declined by Mr. Ashbury. With this exception, all challenges have originated with the Cambria, not with the Dauntless, and every challenge for an ocean race has been accepted by the owner of the American yacht.-D."
To this an editorial note apparently written from statements made by the owner of the Cambria-is appended, and we cannot learn from either the letter or the note that Mr. Ashbury was to blame that the Atlantic match did not take place :
“[We willingly insert our correspondent's letter, but cannot admit that there was a misstatement in the paragraph in question, which was written upon the authority of the owner of the Cambria. The facts are briefly these. Shortly after the arrival of the Dauntless at Cowes, Mr. Bennett made a verbal challenge to Mr. Ashbury to sail the Dauntless against the Cambria, either round the Azores or to New York. Mr. Ashbury took time to consider the challenge (which was quite distinct from his own challenge of the previous year), and, during the week of the Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta, he wrote to Mr. Bennett, accepting the challenge, from Cowes to New York, the yachts to sail on the ist of September. A fortnight elapsed without producing a reply, and, considering that the affair was off, Mr. Ashbury arranged with some friends for a pleasure trip to the Isthmus of Suez ; but being anxious that there should be no misunderstanding, he again wrote, about the 23rd of August, to Mr. Bennett, calling attention to the letter containing the acceptance of the challenge, and requesting a reply within twentyfour hours. Mr. Bennett thereupon telegraphed to say that he would accept Mr. Ashbury's challenge, and sail a match from Cape Clear to New York, starting on the 15th of September. A meeting subsequently took place in London, and Mr. Ashbury declared his unwillingness to wait until the 15th, as it involved, as a certainty, bringing the yachts into the equinoctial gales. These, being from the eastward in the autumnal equinox, would be wholly in favour of the larger vessel, running before the wind. Mr. Bennett stated that he could not be ready earlier, as lie
intended reducing the masts of the Dauntless eight feet. Mr. Ashbury had decided to take the Cambria across without reducing either her spars or canvas (i.e., to sail in ordinary racing trim), and offered to find a man who would get the Dauntless ready in five days. As Mr. Bennett thought this could not be done, Mr. Ashbury offered to wait until the 8th, but Mr. Bennett still declared he could not be ready ; and, upon the intervention of a friend, the match was declared off.
With regard to the proposed Madeira match, if the yachts could have been got ready for such a race by the 1st of September, it is difficult to understand why they could not also have been ready for one to New York by a week after that date. Moreover, Mr. Ashbury was unwilling to set aside his arrangements with his friends for anything but a race across the Atlantic.-Ed.]”
It is a small matter whether or not Mr. Ashbury challenged Mr. Bennett, or Mr. Bennett challenged Mr. Ashbury. It is very evident, however, that Mr. Bennett felt considerably bored by the determination of Mr. Ashbury, and this probably caused him to overlook for a while—a fortnight it is stated—the custom of English gentlemen to answer each other's letters within a reasonable time.
It would be useless expressing regret that no matches took place between the Anglo-American yachts, and it will be far more to the purpose to make what profit we can of the appearance of the transatlantic vessels in our waters. It is not saying too much to declare that they are inferior to our yachts, both in point of speed and weatherly qualities. They are of immense beam, but have not a corresponding depth, and one of Hatcher's 40-ton cutters has as much head room as either of the large American yachts now here. This enormous beam-the Sappho has 27 feet --is not wholly available for cabin accommodation on account of their extreme letter T midship sections. The platform is kept as low as possible, in conformity with getting a reasonable breadth of cabin floor, and the waste beam-if we may so term it—is utilised by deep lockers running along the sides of the saloons and state rooms, close under the covering board. The main saloon is right aft, and is larger than we are accustomed to see in English yachts. The state rooms are forward of the main saloon, and between them and the forecastle, as in our yachts, the "galley fire” is lighted. In fact the arrangements for cooking are on a rather extensive scale; and with a good cook, as they always carry, such a yacht as the Sappho might dine all the officers of the Channel fleet on board. Altogether they have not nearly so much accommodation as an English yacht of equal beam would have; but we must admit that a berth for the owner and three for friends are ample for any yacht. Great beam and such ballast as can be stowed below the platform are what these American yachts depend upon for stability or stiffness, and we believe this arrange
ment answers very well in light winds; but in what we call a good whole-sail breeze, it is not uncommon for such vessels to careen until their decks are at an angle of 25 degrees, and the covering boards buried six or seven planks. Such a weight of water as this would bring in the lee scuppers is never seen on the deck of an English yacht, simply because they have higher freeboards. Now, all height or top hamper above the water-line is so much instability, but enough should be had to ensure dry decks when a vessel comes on a wind under a pressure of canvas. The American yachts have remarkably low freeboards and very little bulwarks, and when they have as much list as we have spoken of, their decks cannot present a very secure position. In fact, we know them to be very difficult to work in a strong wind, and it must be wretched scrambling to get about their great naked decks, with a certainty of rolling away to leeward over the top rail if the hands are not used as grapplers. We heard an American skipper say, and with a great deal of truth, that if narrow English yachts had equally low freeboards they “would not be seen once a week” when sailing on a strong wind. This may be so, but we prefer them as they are to the shallow vessels which have been described as being like a “butcher's tray, with a strip of wood nailed on the bottom ;” and it is this extreme form that renders them indifferent weatherly boats. It is true some of them, for the purpose of acquiring lateral resistance, or power to resist the normal tendency of shallow vessels to lee way, have centre boards of fifteen or sixteen feet in depth. These boards certainly answer the purpose for which they are intended, so long as the yachts are on an even keel; but every inch of list proportionately decreases their influence. Thus in a strong wind their value, when most needed, is almost fatally reduced, and the bluff lines of the midship sections being pressed down into the water, the displacement to leeward is largely increased, and the vessel's speed consequently diminished. No depth of keel, without weight, will prevent a vessel heeling to the wind, and in fact adding wood to a keel is adding instability to the ship, as the tendency of the wood, being lighter than the water, is to come to the surface. The bad weatherly qualities of such vessels were fully admitted to us by the master of the Sappho, who said it was his opinion that in a strong wind and heavy sea the narrow-beamed, deep, and heavily ballasted English yacht, such as the Cambria, would beat the shallower American yachts. He, however, maintained that in long reaching, or running off the wind, a yacht such as the Sappho would sail much faster than such a one as the Cambria; and averred that it was not an unusual feat for a fast American schooner to log sixteen
knots. We were not certain at first if our ears had not deceived us, but it seems we heard correctly. Sixteen knots is a very tall speed, and if American yachts can get up such fleetness, we are afraid our vessels must succumb to them off a wind. Of one thing, however, we are certain, and that is, that the Americans have not advanced in yacht building since 1851 in the same ratio that we have. At that date their schooners were notably superior to ours in weatherly qualities, and in this present year we have it now not only admitted as a matter of judgment that ours are superior to theirs in that essential quality, but have seen it practically demonstrated in the race from Cherbourg to the Isle of Wight, in which the Egeria so unmistakeably beat the Dauntless. The America of 1851 was not the shallow craft that the Sappho of 1869 is, and moreover her rig was much snugger, and better adapted for windward sailing. We prefer in many respects the model of 1851, and beyond that, our preference is infinitely in favour of the English model of 1869. If we had the choice of crossing the Atlantic in either during the autumnal equinox, we should select the English vessel; and on such a course, with a bowsprit end for a weather shore, should feel quite secure of riding out an equinoctial gale. American yachts, it is said, are made to go over the waves, and not under them ; for our part, we would rather take our chance under a wave in an English yacht, to over one in an American flat-bottomer.