The Canada Cup, August 8, 1903 – First Race
The races took place off Toronto, commencing August 8, 1903. The series was to be the best three out of five. The first race was triangular. The wind was fresh from the south-west, with a rather short, steep sea. The Strathcona got slightly the better of the start, being to weather and dead abeam, though she actually crossed 5 seconds behind. For the whole trip to windward the race was of the keenest kind, the yachts never being separated by more than a few lengths or so, but the Strathcona kept the lead. It was very nearly lost to her, however, as at one time the Irondequoit was coming up fast on her weather quarter, both being on the port tack and fetching their buoy. The Strathcona came about on starboard tack, though it was taking her from her course, and the Irondequoit had to tack under her lee. After sailing for a short distance, the Strathcona again came back on the port tack, Irondequoit following, and again she came up fast, and when almost overlapping, the Strathcona put her helm down, and luffed as though she were going on the starboard tack, but quickly changed her helm over, and sailed away again on the port. The Irondequoit being misled by this manoeuvre, came right about on to the starboard tack, and before she could return to port tack lost considerable way and ground. The Strathcona by this manoeuvre had saved herself a blanket, and rounded the first buoy ahead. To the next buoy was a broad reach. It again was apparent that the Irondequoit was footing the faster. The Strathcona kept edging her off to windward, making her sail a long outer arc of the circle; but even under these conditions the Irondequoit sailed around and took the lead, and led at the next buoy by several lengths.
The next course was dead down the wind. With a freshening breeze, and spinnaker set to port, the Strathcona followed dead in the wake of the Irondequoit, and it soon became apparent that she was interfering with the leader’s wind, and the Irondequoit began to luff out. This the Strathcona kept her busy at until both had gone considerably to the westward of their course, so that to fetch the finishing line a gybe would have to be effected. During these luffing matches both had taken in their spinnakers, and were sailing under balloon jibs, but Strathcona had been getting her spinnaker boom shifted to leeward, so that when she had luffed the Irondequoit to the point that both would have to gybe, she quickly put up her helm, shot across Irondequoit’s stern, gybed over, and promptly set her spinnaker to starboard, thus placing herself between the finishing-line and her opponent, and with the big running sail set and drawing, and only a mile to go, she crossed a winner.
Next morning the wind was light, 5 to 8 miles an hour, from the south-west, smooth sea, course to windward and return. Strathcona got much the better of the start, and in the light breeze seemed to be much more lively, and gained continually the whole trip to windward, and also on the run down before the wind, thus finishing a rather uneventful race many hundreds of yards ahead.
In these two races the Irondequoit was sailed by her sailing-master, Captain Barr, but Mr. Gardner, her designer, who was on board, was much concerned at their loss, and persuaded the owners to send for Mr. Arthur Hannan, of New York, who had sailed the Irondequoit in her races on Long Island Sound. He and his brother arrived next morning, and took charge of the Irondequoit, they being put on board after the yachts had left the harbour for the starting-line.
The third race was to be triangular. The wind was fresh to strong—in fact, at times blowing almost to a moderate gale strength. The first leg of the course was to leeward. The two yachts crossed almost side by side. The Irondequoit was slightly ahead, and at once began to creep slowly away, and rounded the leeward mark 100 yards or so to the good. The next trip was a beat to windward, with jib topsails stowed. The Irondequoit began to both outpoint and outfoot the Strathcona, standing up much stiffer, and, as she continued to gain during the whole leg, and also the next leg (which was a broad reach), this contest was as uneventful as the one on the previous day.
The following day the course was to leeward and return. It was apparent from the manoeuvring at the commencement that neither skipper was anxious to cross first. The wind was fresh and puffy from north-north-west, but dropping. It was at least two minutes after gun-fire that both went over, the Irondequoit ahead, the Strathcona on her weather quarter, but neither heading for their buoy. The result of this unexpected manoeuvre and unexpected course, about north-east instead of south-east, was that a number of steam yachts and sailing yachts were found to be in the way, so that the two contestants got mixed up in the field of spectators, and were separated entirely by a large steam yacht, the Strathcona going to windward of her and the Irondequoit to leeward. It was evidently the Strathcona’s plan to attempt the manoeuvre of the first day, and luff the Irondequoit so far off the course that she would again be between her and the objective point. So far as this point was concerned, the manoeuvre proved successful, as, after chasing the Irondequoit close up for at least two miles eastward towards Scarboro, the Strathcona suddenly put up her helm, gybed over, and set her spinnaker to starboard. The wind by this time had grown lighter, and as they sailed off shore grew lighter still. The Strathcona gained steadily, and when within half a mile of the turning-buoy was at least 200 yards ahead ; but here she ran into a soft spot in the wind, and lay motionless, with her sails hanging idle and spilling the wind. The Irondequoit, seeing her antagonist in this plight, sailed broad off to leeward, and was fortunate enough to carry a light draft through, and sailed completely around the Strathcona, and rounded the buoy a minutes 52 seconds in advance. Now came a beat to windward. The Strathcona began to pick up, and before long had run up under the lee of the Irondequoit, but do what she would she could not sail through her lee, and twist or turn as she might, she always found the Irondequoit planted between her and the wind in the most masterly fashion.
In order to make the race as long as possible, the Strathcona carried the contest away to the east, but Mr. Hannan was not to be caught, and, as the Irondequoit was quicker in stays, any manoeuvre that was attempted was quickly met. In towards shore the breeze freshened, so that both yachts were at times driving along at a good pace, and finished close together, the Strathcona dead in the Irondequoit’s wake. This gave both yachts two races, and the interest in consequence was much enhanced.
The next day the wind was south-west, and fresh, moderate sea. This time the Irondequoit got decidedly the better start, having the Strathcona well under her lee, where she kept her closely pinned during the whole trip to windward; but the contest was clean and exciting. Strathcona tacked and retacked, sailed rapfull half a dozen times during the first half-hour, but, do what she would, the Irondequoit was always between her and the wind or the objective point, and rounded the weather-buoy with several lengths to the good. The next was a broad reach, with large jib topsails set. The Irondequoit continued to improve her position. The next course was dead down the wind under conditions almost similar to those of the first day, but Irondequoit was this time far enough ahead not to feel any interference with her wind, and also gained throughout this leg, winning the race and the series, taking the cup back again to the United States.
In the first two races Captain Barr, her sailing-master, sailed the Irondequoit, and in the subsequent race Mr. Arthur Hannan, of New York. The Strathcona was sailed by Mr. Æmilius Jarvis in all five events. Judges: Mr. E. H. Ambrose for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club; Mr. Frank T. Christie for the Rochester Yacht Club. Referee, Mr. Oliver E. Cromwell, New York.
Read on … Canada Cup 1905.