The last time we were in St. Maarten, I said the next time I was going to sail on a former America’s Cup boat. We went back. I did.
The America’s Cup was first awarded in 1851 when the cup, the trophy, was awarded to the schooner America by the Royal Yacht Squadron for winning a race around the Isle of Wright.
The race is held when another yacht club challenges the current holder of the cup. Over the next 132 years, a yacht from the New York Yacht Club always won.
Dennis Conner was captain of the winning boat in 1974 and 1980. But he lost in 1983 when the Australians challenged with a boat with a winged keel. The Australian boat was much faster, but Connor’s skillful seamanship was acknowledged by the Australian builder: “even when we did win, we were using a rifle against a club and Dennis Conner still almost beat us.”
Nonetheless, the New York Yacht Club rejected Connor’s request to challenge again. So Connor formed his own syndicate to finance another challenge, and racing for the San Diego Yacht Club he won in 1987 sailing the Stars and Stripes.
Today, rather than sitting in a museum somewhere, the Stars and Stripes still races against the Canada II and other boats in St. Maarten for the benefit of tourists.
We were assigned our boats by our guide. In June 2017, the boat I was on came in second. But I didn’t care. I sailed on the Stars and Stripes.
Click on photos to enlarge.