Beautifully composed, this exhibition of premier yacht racing features an 1895 period view of the America’s Cup battle between the New York Yacht Club’s DEFENDER and Lord Dunraven’s VALKYRIE III, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron. The DEFENDER’s crew, captained by Hank Haff on behalf of managing owner C. Oliver Iselin for J. Pierpont Morgan and William K. Vanderbilt, is hard at work changing the jib sails. Against the popular consensus of employing Scandinavian professionals to crew, Haff chose his from the ranks of Maine’s fishing fleets.
A rare painting of a Cup race, Cozzens’ number one subject, which redefined several aspects of head-to-head yacht racing, including the rules pertaining to length of waterline and ballast, the third and final match is shown. DEFENDER had already won the first, and was fouled at the start of the second match and was awarded that day’s victory. The third match, on September 12, was heavily attended, but the massive spectator fleet was kept further back, as Dunraven had squarely blamed the big New York Steamer YORKTOWN of undue interference for the earlier mishap, despite photographic evidence squarely putting the blame on the VALKYRIE’s maneuver. At the start, Dunraven had his yacht throw a tow rope to his tug, and pulled away from the course, never to race again.
Dated 1895, Cozzens was undoubtedly present, and witnessed the glory of Nathaniel Herrshoff’s beautiful keel design, with her steel frame and brass and bronze connected aluminum features covered with white pine and mahogany. Unfortunately, due to the aluminum swelling, she lasted but five years, but she absolutely served the purpose for which she was built, defending the Cup.
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