Whitstable Oyster Smacks in 1920.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Whitstable Harbour

The RNLI two Thunderjets and Four Fishermen

It’s great that Whitstable now has Lifeboat representation, having been a sailor most of my life it’s a comforting thought to know you are only a VHF call away from help, in the past we have been reliant on the Margate Lifeboat which was the case for many years and was in days past our nearest, Sheerness did not have a Lifeboat until 1970, so the story I am going to relate concerns the three lifeboat stations closest to Whitstable at the time, these were Margate, Ramsgate and Southend and the date 13th November 1957 I was seventeen and was mate on the fishing boat Pandalus owned by Bert Stroud an ex RAF man whose father owned the bakery opposite the Oxford cinema, Bert also owned Portunus and was skippered by “Cod”Kelsey and Dave Stroud, ( no relationship to Bert) was mate on this boat.
At about 6.05 pm on the 13th, a message was received by the coastguard from USAF Manston that two Thunder Jet F84’s had gone missing. A further message at 6.28 pm stated that the aircraft had gone down in the sea between the Woolpack and the pudding Pan Sands, of course I knew nothing of this until Bert Stroud came to my house explained the situation and asked if I would go to sea and assist in searching for the pilots and to alert Dave Stroud as to the situation and bring him along, at 6.40 the Margate lifeboat “The North Foreland” was launched from Margate Closely followed by the Ramsgate and the Southend boats. Dave Stroud and myself arrived at the harbour at about 7.00pm and it soon became apparent the the weather was somewhat inclement, it was blowing hard from the east and the tide was ebbing, Cod Kelsey was already on board his boat Pandalus and had the engine running, Bert Stroud then arrived by car and we set about starting the engine on Portunus having achieved all pre sea checks we readied ourselves for an uncomfortable twelve or so hours at sea, I should add that we would not have gone to sea in these conditions if we were fishing. we cast off and headed out, rounding the pier head, the waves after clearing the pier were taken on our starboard quarter and breaking over the boat but once we were clear and heading into the waves it was not so bad, I was at the helm and Bert was on the radio to Cod and the Margate lifeboat, a forty minute steam with the Street Buoy well over our stern we could see the Margate lifeboat in the distance well lit up, because of the wind, visability was very good, another half an hour or so we were joined by the Ramsgate boat and later by the Southend lifeboat we searched all night in vain for wreckage without success we radioed the three lifeboats and told them of our decision to return to harbour, they thanked us for turning out in what can only be described as atrocious conditions.
Three weeks later we all received letters from the RNLI which included a cheque for a small amount and expressing their thanks at the courage shown,. The following day we learnt that one large fuel tank was found, also a body belt, sadly no bodies were ever recovered. Between October the 30th and November the 13th Four aircraft were lost at sea around our coast and the RNLI featured in all the searches. Losses were a USAF. Sabre Jet off Norfolk an RAF Hawker Hunter off Ilfracombe and lastly the USAF Thunderjets from Manston
Kind regards
Dave Jordan

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Sets of Stamps

I had some time on my hands so I decided to design some stamps, perhaps the views I have used would be those chosen had Whitstable ever issued stamps.

Swalecliffe and Beltinge.

Regarding the mud cliffes at Swalecliffe, I spent many happy hours climbing and playing on those cliffs in the late forties early fifties, to us then, it was a magical place that had no rival in Whitstable, on one occasion Dave Stroud and I decided to take a trip to the mud cliffs in search of dinosaur bones which were a common find, it had rained a lot in the last week or so it was early summer and hot, we set off equipped with a bottle of Bing ( Red Lemonade, a local brew) jam sandwiches a piece of rope and a penknife, we arrived and began skimming flat stones across the water, the tide was in, bored with that we decided to climb the cliff face, but first we had to walk over a four foot thick, and getting thicker, clay slurry, but being June and very hot the sun had baked a hard crust which we tested with sticks and decided all would be well, I went first, mounting what can only be described as pudding with not such a hard crust when stood on, it gave way, and I was up to my short trouser bottoms in liquid mud, I did manage to retrieve myself from this situation with the help of Dave and a passerby, the cleanup meant a good swim leaving my clothes to dry on me. It could be very dangerous playing in that area but boys being boy’s, do not see danger.
I would also make mention of Bishopstone Glen, which is in fact Beltinge, I had a friend when living at Swalecliffe in the sixties, we were both keen photographers and he suggested a trip to “The Glen” as he called it, being a local, where he said could be seen relics from millions of years past, sceptical, I went along with it and he took me to a particular part of the Glen and quite high up, he beckoned, here it is! And pointed, all I could see was a vein or seam of silver sand, I enquired, where are the relics, he pointed, in there! I put my finger into this seam, raked around, something pricked my finger I carried on then pulled the loosened sand to the front and into my hand, Trevor retorted “there you are sharks teeth, I told you so” looking closer at the contents of my palm it revealed three delicate, but perfectly formed sharks teeth all about a centimetre in length, this he said is proof enough that this layer of silver sand was once the sea bed, I had no choice but to concur. To this day I still possess these finds.
I last visited this place eight years ago on a birding trip, and you could still access this vein of silver sand with its treasures still intact. Why not, if you are reasonably local take a trip to the site and grab some shark teeth.

The Horsebridge Area

I would like to muse on Whitstable and the changes it has, and is. being subjected to, the Horsebridge project being what it is, an eyesore, in my opinion, and totally out of character with that particular area of Whitstable, I think that it would do better embellishing an area perhaps more befitting its purpose, whatever that is, the likes of Councillors Wallis, Hopkins and George Woodman (My Godfather) all ardent conservationists of Whitstable, have, not only turned in their graves but probably managed somersaults, I do appreciate the fact that change is inevitable, but I suggest it is relative to the beholder depending how far through life you have progressed, My perception of Whitstable having been raised in the fishermans quarter, so called, in the 40’s, would have been significantly different from that of a child say, raised in Tankerton and similar outskirt area’s I have a friend who remembers with envy tales of the youth culture in Whitstable after the war, she was not allowed down to the town unless Chaperoned we may have been a bit high spirited but we knew how to enjoy ourselves armed only with a length of rope a bottle of BING,(red lemonade) and a knife, Oops that sounds like 200 hours community service, I wonder what the scouts do without their sheath knives, assuming they are not exempt, perhaps the Swiss Army Knife would be more acceptable, anyway, armed with rope, pop and knife the world was our oyster, Clowes Wood, the Old Line, Duncan Down, Seasalter, the Slopes. I do not remember ever being bored to the extent of vandalism or worse, which seems to be the case today, ask a youth of today how they feel about changes being made to their environment the probable reply would be “Do I look bovvered” I would add that this is not aimed at the majority for I do know some very caring young people in my area. I was involved quite heavily with the fight against the Airport at Cliffe and liased with the RSPB, I designed a website to fight very effectively this blot on our landscape it was my contribution along with it’s cost, Young people were given the right of an opinion but most were unimpressed at losing an important wildlife area.

The Horsbridge area held a lot of memories for me, catching the No 5 bus to Tyler Hill to see my Nan, the Assembly Rooms dances, a cuppa in the Cafe and a rare Sunday treat The Mystery Tour on a single decker, Perry Woods, Wickambraeux, Fordwich were regular destinations, and rummaging through the large junk shop which was housed in the old bus garage, and behind the “Pearsons Arms” was the grit plant where cockle, whelk, and oyster shells were ground up and bagged which was then given to chickens as a calcium subsidy, and then there were the Public Baths, run by Mrs Cowie, who kept a very clean establishment, which, us, by now, teenage kids used, as we were a little too old to sit in a tin bath in front of the fire in the living room and to supply even a tin bath with the amount of water necessary, the copper in the scullery had to be lit, and water transported in a large saucepan, what a palaver. However, at the baths you were never limited to how much hot water you could use so it was always filled to the brim, you could actually float.
Prior to the premises being a public baths and toilets the premises were an ice making plant and named “The Whitstable Pure Ice Works” this fact is authenticated by a postcard I have, which can be seen on my site, so, with this info, we now know the conveniences were not purpose built but were a later conversion, splashed across the side of the bus is just WHITSTABLE-CANTERBURY but doubt it would have serviced the number 5 route at that time.
Back to the ice plant, which in all probability would have supplied ice to the Oyster Company for transporting the oysters to Billingsgate but I would like to think, ice for G&T’s in the Bear and Key, and Duke of Cumberland, both thriving establishments in those days the fish and food industry would no doubt have been customers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Smuggling on the North Kent Coast.

Smuggling has been around for several centuries and will always be a means of making easy money, it still applies today although the commodity has changed, at present it is class “A” drugs, a big problem to which Police and customs seem to have no answer. The risk is big, big money returns and big time if apprehended. Gold is fetching a good price and is considered worth the risk, good returns, low sentence, Krugerrands being the present favoured bullion and favourite for concealment thus evading VAT, weight 1 ounce, of 22k Gold present price £656 per coin UK. Uncut gemstones, small risk, excellent returns. And then we have people smuggling, very lucrative and there are people willing to pay large sums to bypass immigration, high risk, high money, and big time.

Smuggling was rife in Kent and Sussex, being conveniently close to France, Belgium and Holland but our North coast was less prone to large scale activity than the Coast from North Foreland all the way round to most of the Sussex Coast, apart from the Goodwin and Margate sands there was little else to concern these hardened master seamen, this area was the domain of the Smuggling gangs who were notoriously violent they were known as the Hawkhurst, Mayfield, and Groombridge gangs, placed in the centre of Kent they could cover all of Kent and would at times team up with the Chichester Gang, it was an uneasy coexistence with the local populous, their success was based on bribery, fear, terrible retribution should any member be arrested as a result of collaboration with revenue men.

I think now is the time to introduce you Rudyard Kiplings famous poem the


If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie,

Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark--
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again--and they'll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide.
If you see a tired horse lying down inside,
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm--don't you ask no more!

If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you 'pretty maid,' and chuck you 'neath the chin.
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house--whistles after dark
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pinchers here, and see how dumb they lie
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark--
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie--
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Behind these poetic words lurks a sinister truth of the dangers and the lengths these thugs, which is what they were, would go to, people would turn there heads for fear of recognising someone, a loose tongue down the tavern on a few pints could easily get your throat cut your house burnt down and even your family harmed.

The North Kent shore can be divided into two parts East of Reculver, deeper water and becoming chalk as you move further east. West of Reculver you have shingle and sand and mud cliffs but shallower water so the chances of being apprehended were much greater, due to running aground and high ground to the South a vigilant Eye could be kept during daylight hours, It is known that the Dutch in their Djalks flat bottomed barges and employed the use of Leeboards as do our Thames and Medway Barges, they have been known to sail round the Isle of Sheppey and enter the Eastern end of the Swale at Queen borough to avoid the detection of the intended destination which could have been anywhere from Stangate Creek, Sittingbourne, Conyer Creek, Faverham Creek, or Seasalter very often the boat would not know the exact offloading destination but would come through the Swale from the Eastern end at night and watch for the predetermined signal by a Spout Lantern “ a lantern that could emit a beam of light ” they would then unload and cart away Ankers of spirit, “ a keg containing seven and a half gallons” and or half Ankers, three and a half to four gallons of Geneva ( Gin ) Brandy, Tobacco, Tea, Coffee the quantities of which already had customers, any residue was sold in the London waterside Taverns another cunning means of beating the revenue men was to “sow a crop” to attach the spirit barrels to a chain or warp and play out the chain with the barrels attached and either mark with a unobtrusive flag, a small buoy, or take a bearing, they would then be retrieved by drudging with a grappling hook at a time of perhaps of less risk, I should add that this was done whilst underway and on the seaward side with the right preparation two men could accomplish this without cause of suspicion if observed from the shore.

Whitstable, was to have another string to its bow, it already played a reasonably active part in the free-trade but we must bear in mind that the area had the oyster trade, shrimping, whelking, copperas production, farming and fishing, fruit picking, hopping woodland conversion ( hop poles and wattle fencing etc ) so there were other less dangerous and risky occupations that could be persued. And a lot did.

What makes Whitstable more unusual is the trade in smuggled prisoners of war that was carried on in the area.
During the Napoleonic wars the enormous numbers of POWs put a considerable strain on the country's resources, and led to a vast prison building program (including Dartmoor). Many French prisoners lived in appalling conditions in prison hulks filthy, overcrowded and disease-ridden malarial hulks anchored off-shore. These were moored in the Medway at Chatham and off the Hoo Peninsular at Cooling , and inspired Charles Dickens book “ Great Expectations” the prisoner in the churchyard “ Magwitch” discovered by Pip, and who had escaped from the prison hulks moored off Cooling a mile to the North.
When a house in Castle Road was demolished in about 1946 a huge amount of manacles were discovered beneath the floor, proof of human traffic passing through the town.

There would have been an elaborate network of contacts and safe havens collusive guards would be almost a certainty and would have helped, prisoners to escape from the hulks at a price, they would be brought to London, Whitstable smacks were making regular runs to fish markets, they would pick up these POW’s and were then taken to London then smuggled onto a Hoy or an oyster-boat and transported to a timber platform at the low-tide mark near Whitstable. This platform was a mooring for the oyster-boats and fishing vessels that were prevented from reaching the true shoreline at low-tide by the two-mile wide ribbon of mud that fringes the beaches here.
Mingling with fishing folk and wildfowlers, the French escapees were able to make their way back to the shore, rest up and hide for a few days, then make a clandestine departure one dark night from Swalecliffe rock a shingle spit jutting out from the mainland and formed naturally by the action of the tides. Relatives of the wealthier prisoners would no doubt have paid handsomely for their safe return, and the arrangement no doubt suited the smugglers, who would otherwise have had to pay for their returning cargo of contraband in currency, rather than bodies. The trade continued between 1793 and 1814.
One other overlooked legal smuggling enterprise was the legal transportation of English spies to France, but the French spies they returned with were obviously illegal and if caught you would have been hung and then gibbeted this probably says something about the scruples of these upstanding folk.

Owling - The stealing of wool, and the exportation of it to the continent and with the proceeds buying, Brandy, Geneva (Gin) Tea, Tobacco Coffee and luxury goods, this particular form of smuggling was the favoured by the Whitstable, Seasalter and other small North Kent gangs, although seasonal, the benefit was, that it was self funding so therefore cutting out greedy upstanding respected folk who normally put up the capital at high rates for the continental runs. The Whitstable and Seasalter gangs operational headquarters was Seasalter Parsonage Farm in Genesta Avenue in about 1740 and still stands there to this day. The Owling trade in this area centred around the Swale and near Thames Estuary, Cliffe and Cooling marshes taking in Sheppey ( Island of Sheep) Shellness was a good place to take on cargo, the water depth was good at most times except absolute low water, Sittingbourne, and Faversham Marshes had good berthing places, the wool from these areas were considered to be of high quality by the woollen trade on the continent therefore commanding quality money.

Unfortunately, encounters between the local smugglers and the authorities sometimes led to bloodshed and death, as the following will show by an entry in the Kentish Gazette.

Wednesday, February 28th, 1780.
WHEREAS ON SATURDAY, the 26th Inftant, A party of his Majefty's 4th Regiment
of Dragoons, efcorting a Seizure of uncuftomed Goods from Whitftaple towards Canterbury, was attacked about Half a Mile on this side of Whitftaple, between Six and
Seven o'Clock in the Evening, by a very numerous body of Smugglers, upwards of fifty
of whom had Fire-arms; who, having demanded the goods, without waiting for an Anfwer, they proceeded to fire on the Party, by which two Dragoons were killed on the fpot, and two more dangeroufly wounded.

In Order to bring to Juftice the Perpetrators of this Murder, LIEUTENANT- COLONEL
HUGONIN, of the 4th Dragoons, does hereby offer a reward of fifty GUINEAS to any
Perfon or Perfons who fhall difcover and apprehend, or caufe to be difcovered or apprehended, any one or more of the Offenders; to be paid upon Conviction.

Canterbury, February 28th, 1780.
The story told by this advertisement was amplified in the news of
the following week.
ON Saturday, 26th inft., Mr. Nicholfon, Supervifor of the Excife, affifted by a Corporal
and eight men of his Majefty's 4th Regiment of Dragoons, feized in the town of Whitftaple, 183 tubs of Geneva which they were conveying in a wagon to this City, when, about half a mile on this fide of Whitftable, between fix and feven o'clock in the evening they were attacked by a very numerous body of fmugglers, upwards of 50 of whom had fire-arms : having demanded the Goods without awaiting for an Anfwer, they fired upon the party, by which two dragoons were Killed on the fpot, and two dangeroufly wounded.
They then unloaded' the wagon and carried off the whole of the goods, except
then unloaded' the wagon and carried off the whole of the goods, except two tubs, on their shoulders, which is a convincing circumftance at the numbers the party confifted of. A great many fhots must have been fired on this occafion as balls paffed through the hats and cloathes and grazed the legs of others of the dragoons. The deceafed were both men- of exceeding good character, one of them has left a wife and three children. The above goods, it is faid, were landed out of a cutter that was driven into Whitftaple the preceding evening
evening by the late high winds; fhe carried of a cutter that was driven into Whitftaple
the preceding evening by the late high winds; fhe carried 18 braff 9-pounders and put out to fea as foon as the fmugglers had put on board the tubs of Geneva they had retaken.

Monday the Coroner's inquest fat on the bodies of the dragoons who were
killed, and brought in a verdict, " wilful murder by perfons unknown."
The sequel came swiftly and resulted in a gruesome warning to
those who might be tempted to follow in the same evil ways.
On March 15th, 1780, the Kentish Gazette reported:
Sunday laft John Knight, jun., of Whitftaple, was committed by
Edward Hafted, Efq., to St. Dunftan's Goal being charged on the oath
of Edward Edenden, and others, with having been aiding and affifting
with fire-arms, in the late dreadful affray and murder, on the bodies of two dragoons of the 4th regiment, on Boftal Hill, near Whitftape, on, Saturday, 28th of February laft.
A few days later the unfortunate man appeared at the Assizes:
Saturday, March 18th, 1780.
At the Affizes held this week at Maidftone, John Knight was capitally
convicted of aiding and affifting in the murder of two dragoons on Saturday, 28th February laft, near Whitftable, and he received sentence of death. accordingly. He will be executed this day on: Penenden Heath from whence his body will be removed and hung in chains on Boftal Hill, near the place where the murder was committed. It appeared by the evidence on the trial that he was one of the men who fired a fignal gun to affemble the fmugglers ne of the men who fired a fignal gun to affemble the fmugglers, and that he was afterwards feen to' load his piece with a, leaden bullet, and that he among others actually fired when two of the dragoons were shot. He had no defence to make, but faid he had only fired once in the air, and feemed utterly infenfible defence of the nature of his crime. Punishment followed swiftly, for under the date Monday,
20th March, 1780, we read:
John Knight, committed by Edward Hafted, Efq.; the 12th day of March;
charged on the oath of Edward Edenden and others, with aiding and affifting in the murder of two dragoons at Whitftaple, in. this county,
He was accordingly executed on Saturday on Penenden Heath.—His
behaviour at the place of execution, was fuch as became his unhappy stuation and juft before he was turned off, begged of the spectators to take warning how they affift fmugglers. He faid he was at that time ignorant of the nature of the crime he had committed, and was drawn in by the purfuations of thofe who knew better, and were more interefted. He died very penitent, and the people Feemed to be greatly affected at feeing fuch young a man cut off in the flower of hif youth He was not 18 years old. Monday, his body was brought to Borftal-hill guarded by a body of dragoons, and hung in chains near the place where the murder was committed.

And Further
In the night between the 27th and 29th 1784. a boat detached from His
Majesty's Cutter Griffin, stationed on this coast to cruise for contraband, had the misfortune to run upon the stakes of a fish weir at Swalecliff near Whitstaple, by which unhappy accident, a midfhipman and feven men were drowned.

Wednesday, March 10th, 1784.
On Tuefday the bodies of a midfhipman and fix of the seamen who were
unfortunately drowned in Swalecliff Weir, were interred in one grave in
Swalecliffe Church-yard. The other was carried to Faverfham.
The Swalecliffe Register of Deaths contains the following entry
Seven seamen were drowned they had a communal burial in St Johns Church Swalecliffe.
They were, Moses Pike, Francis Bell, Henry Bugden, Thomas Burlam, John Smith, Michael Brown, Thomas Taplock. One of the unfortunates were taken and buried in Faversham - RIP -

I in fact, was married in this church and for a while lived nearby, But I have never found a stone marking the grave of these unfortunate naval ratings.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 1782.
Last Sunday night, as five men in a boat were rowing from Herne Bay to Whitstable, they were unfortunately struck against a stump at Hampton to which a Weir had been formerly
fixed, the stump ran through the bottom, of the boat, and she had been formerly fixed, the stump ran through the bottom, of the boat, which instantly sunk, four of the men were drowned and the other with much difficulty swam ashore, the men were strangers in this part of the country, and had just bought the boat at Herne and were supposed to be going on a smuggling scheme.

In his book My Recollections of HAMPTON by Frank Mount and published by Herne Bay College in 1942 signed by the third son and in my library. In this publication he mentions a one Judas Downs who applied to the board of trade for permission to build legitimately, a Fish Weir ( Trap ) at Hampton, it was granted and it was a successful enterprise but it did take the lives of a number of mariners it did not discriminate between free traders and naval personnel.

As a young lad I was with my Uncle Ted delivering groceries to Miss Lambs, “School House” a beautiful building after expressing an interest in old buildings and secret passages, Miss Lamb took me to a staircase which we climbed, halfway up there was a very small window, I was told that this could not be seen from anywhere adjacent to the house but that it was a window used for placing a spout lantern as a signal that it was okay, or, do not land on this tide, revenue riders about. There was in Whitstable a lot of sympathy for free traders as most of the inhabitants derived benefit from this activity in one way or another, and that is why the good times lasted for so long 1700-1840 which was the date of the first postage stamp, and the industrial revolution was gaining momentum giving forth new opportunities, and so on the scale smuggling had been, would never be again, Finally the coastguards of Herne Bay area were able to report that the free trade had been virtually extinguished, also the reduction of Customs Duties after 1840 took much of the profit out of smuggling and this coupled with the vigilance of the coastguard service, effectively stopped large scale operations for the next 100 years.
There is one more bizarre episode that needs mention in 1851 and more than forty years after we had abolished the slave trade, an armed vessel was boarded off Whitstable and was found to be equipped as a slaver, with boxes of beads and bangles for trading and barter, however the boat was American owned so could not be detained.
And perhaps pertinent when Charles Dickens expired, Bleak House, his holiday home, wherein was discovered in the cellar, when valuing the premises for probate 2,400 bottles of wines and spirits, many of them unlabelled and perhaps therefore being from unofficial sources.
I have been left musing after writing this article, my male bloodline emanate from the Ramsgate area and it crops up several times occupations given as dredgermen, no oysters in that area, nearest place to ply that trade would have been Hampton, Swalecliffe, but more probable Whitstable, and coincides with some of the dates herein mentioned. Mmmmm I wonder!

Whitstable's Goal Running Team.

This photograph taken in 1920 is believed to be on the Whitstable recreation ground.
Read the article below to give you an insight into this now forgotten sport.

A Little known Whitstable Sport.

Whitstable is no stranger to competitive sports such as Football, Cricket, Athletics, Tennis, Rowing, Sailing etc but I have been looking through my notes and jottings and have come across a little known sport that attracted a lot of interest in the 19th Century and a little way into the twentieth, it was the sport of “Goal – Running” and has nothing remotely akin to football. The prominent historians of the day Harris or Hasted make no mention of it in their writings but that does not mean that it was not a competitive village sport.
A goal has been defined as “ an object set up as a place where a race ends – the winning “post”, a word possibly from the early French Gaule signifying a pole or stick, if this is so it may indicate a medieval origin of the practice of goal – running in which a finishing pole or standard was an essential requirement

It was a game that had two opposing sides and was played as a result of a challenge to another team, popular opponents were Oare, Staple Street, Selling, it was played all over East Kent but due to the problems of travel the nearer venues were more popular. It did not matter how many were in the side so long as the sides were of even number, it was played in a field, and usually as close to a public house as is possible, for it has been described as very thirsty work, it was a game for the working class and was regarded by the middle and upper as beneath them to get involved or show interest, although some of the shopkeepers supported the Whitstable side. The Headquarters of the Whitstable side was the East Kent Hotel and I am presuming that this is the place I know as the East Kent.

I will quote from the Whitstable-on-Sea Times Dated July 4th 1891

Whitstable Goal Running Club – A pleasant evening was spent by the members of this Club Saturday last in the presence of some 600 spectators. Amongst the events the events of the occasion were a 150yd handicap race and a 200yd hurdle race, each in four heats. There was also a Goal-Running match between Whitstable and Selling, which the home teem won by eight goals to three.
The Whitstable Brass Band, under the direction of Mr G. Wyver, enhanced the enjoyment of the evening which was finally brought to a close with a supper at the headquarters of the Club, the East Kent Hotel.

August the 22nd 1891
Goal-Running – A match at Goal-Running between Whitstable and Staple Street Clubs, took place at Hernehill on Saturday last resulting in a victory for Whitstable by four goals to nil.

I suppose that the simple delights of this once popular sport belong to a less sophisticated era than the one we live in now, we are more travelled but in a way more reclusive and isolated, villages and indeed pubs had a cricket and a football team which were supported by the landlord, but these are dwindling, the pubs and post offices closing, respect has gone out the window, and I am sorry to say I cannot see an end to this current state of affairs.

From fisherfolk to Royal Yacht and Americas Cup

From fisherfolk to Royal Yacht and Americas Cup
Long has it been a tradition for seaman to congregate in pubs and around harbours and mull over old times relate sea tales and Whitstable was no exception, seafarers are a close knit breed and can be a little aloof, to folk who are not involved with their world, they would work long tiring hours plying their trade to eek out a meager living but that did not dampen spirits as all would have a cheery word if they knew you. As a child the harbour was my everything and I knew most of the people who derived a living in whatever way from that area, I would hang about within earshot and listen to the tales and yarns, spun by the fisher folk it was best when the weather was blowing one of those. and going to sea not possible, some would even go to the “dole office” and sign on for a day or so until the weather improved, but going back to the 19th and early 20th century there was no helping hand when you had no income, and during the Oyster close season there were other jobs you could turn your hand to, some of the company men were still employed running as far afield as Holland, and in 1919 skipper Stroud was demobbed joined the Ham Company and skippered Whitstable’s largest smack the “Seasalter” F322 Built 1870 LOA 51.8ft 14ft Beam, Hold Depth 7.8ft she was then used mainly for brood (young Oysters) carrying to and from Essex with the occasional trip to Holland, prior to 1900 she made regular trips to Falmouth bringing brood back from the Ham Companies owned beds in that area.
Before the Great War oyster drudging and fishing in general enjoyed its heyday nothing was known of modern sophisticated fish finding and weather forecasting instruments and was solely reliant on bitter experience. I went to sea in the late 50’s , and was well aware of what would be expected of a skippers mate having gone to sea as a teenager with Ollie Wiseman (who came to Whitstable with Alf Leggett, ) Ogie Laker, and Sid Stroud (Smoker) in his Whelk Boat, I did this as often as I could . Sid Stroud was a fisherman I preferred the company of. I knew him in my childhood through to my middle twenties, growing up with his son David, we eventually worked on the fishing boats together. There were two prominent fishing or drudging families in Whitstable the Stroud’s and Rowden’s there were others but that was more father and son, but it is the Stroud’s, principally, that this article will be dealing with, but another family will be mentioned later in the story.
Sidney Stroud, “smoker” as I shall hereonin call him was a great seaman as was his family, and arguably the best sailors to come from one family, seven brothers in all, and all made a living from the sea, I worked with Smoker on seawall reparations for Whitstable Urban District Council in 1958 this could only be carried out in the winter, and over a period of time knew him quite well, he would talk of his father Earnest having owned a pub in Whitstable “The Royal Native” in Harbour Street, having also had a hand in other money spinning projects dealing in shellfish and smoked fish he had his own smoke room and copper for cooking shrimps and shellfish, Smoker, I remember saying perhaps jokingly, that’s where I got my knickname going round the boatyards and fetching back sacks of oak shavings and then lighting the smokehouse fire, but I always thought that this name derived from the fact that he always smoked a pipe and that he fueled it with hand rolling tobacco “Hearts of Oak” which tended to smoke more than pipe tobacco, and when in deep thought would puff more regularly and would soon fill a bar with a haze.
I would often see Smoker in the Smack public house, he particularly liked that watering Hole and this particular evening I had free, a Friday, and payday, the Smack was my first port of call, Smoker was in his usual place nodding a greeting, we had both had a very cold day on the sea wall at one time blowing a northerly blizzard, I took my drink over to join him, passed the time with small chat, I spoke of being a bit unhappy with my life and thought a six week course at the sea school in Gravesend, and then into the Merchant Navy would solve my dilemma, it was at that moment he came to life with agreement at my suggestion and went on to talk of his teen years saying that he had reached that particular crossroad in his life and went on to relate this amazing life he led at the age roughly I was at that moment, his Father and six brothers were all involved with the sea and were proficient in all aspects of fishing and drudging including five fingering (drudging starfish) for fertilizer in the close season, and stoning (Drudging for Mussels) he went on to say he was fed up and was off to seek adventure, he certainly found it, by joining King George the V’s Yacht “Brittania” K1 at the age of nineteen which was a fabulous 40 Metre Class Yacht, , these craft were the epitome of sheer opulence, Smoker went on to say that the King would not have a J on his sail to denote the boats class as he was a K, being King, so his sail number finally read K1, the Royal Yacht Squadron allowed this. Smoker had established his career and stayed full time for a number of years and was made up to Boatswain commonly Bosun ( this post today on a modern Yacht, sail or motor can command £4000+ a month salary) It should be mentioned that a racing yacht of the size of “Brittania” could not have operated without a bo’sun, Smoker said that it was very informal aboard and that the King would often consult with him regarding the boat and race tactics so that there were no surprises during the course of a race, Smoker was senior or leading deckhand versed and responsible for running rigging, sails, warps and sheets , anchorage, stores, and indeed anything that effected the smooth running of a racing vessel conveying orders to the crew via the captain or officer and of readying the ship for sea, orders could be piped and were on some yachts, with a bosuns whistle which also doubled as a badge of rank hung around the neck and could be heard above howling winds and flapping sails, though not in Brittania’s case the pipe was considered by this time to be obsolete, so verbal orders only. And that is how the old superstition came about, no seaman whistles at sea, it was said it summoned up the wind, the simple explanation was of course it could confuse the crew as to what duty to perform and the result could have been calamitous. I remember asking Smoker about the King and his attitude towards the crew he remarked that the King was a gentleman, in fact he said the King remarked we are all different sized well oiled cogs that keep my yacht sailing at optimum speed and safety and that is why I employ this crew, praise indeed. Off duty all was very informal, Smoker also commented, that perhaps this bonding was based on the fact that being in the same boat, life’s value is the same as the next man regardless of rank or class.
All of the fabulous J class would attend the regattas along the south coast, Weymouth, Poole, Falmouth Southhampton they would compete against each other, “Brittania” always attended but could not compete, as her class was Forty Metre so to rectify this King George had his Yacht modified to conform with J Class specifications.
Smoker went on to say that the two most memorable sights to stir the salt water in the veins were, a Spritsail Barge flying full canvas in a stiff breeze, and close hauled, the other is to see a J class, cutter rigged, flying everything, again close hauled, or goose winged (running before the wind), he retorted, that has to be the most beautiful sight a sailor can cast eyes upon, I think he was reminiscing “Brittania”, which alas, when King George V passed away his beloved yacht was towed out to sea by the Navy at his request and scuttled in such a way as to leave no trace, this was on the south side of the Needles, Isle of Wight. In 1936. It was common knowledge that he could not bear the thought of anyone else owning her.

Smoker’s next job found him aboard “Shamrock V” J 3, built in Gosport in 1929 her specifications were 119 ft 1in LOA, 81ft 1in LWL, Draught 14ft 9ins with a further drop keel, and a sail area of 7,550 sq ft her mast costing more than the hull itself she also had an 80 ton lead keel, so, complete with her new innovative new look rigging “Bermudan” a much more dapper and efficient sail plan and easier to handle, she was built to race for the Americas Cup by Sir Thomas Lipton of food and tea fame. Smoker enlisted as Bosun and her crew numbered twenty two and among them was his brother Skipper Stroud, Smokers elder brother, and a very experienced seaman he had joined the Merchant Navy for a couple of trips, in the twenties, it is here the story gets more interesting .
Firstly I will give a brief history of the Americas Cup, The J Class has its roots in the oldest sporting race in the world, The America's Cup, established in 1851. This International Event was born from an annual race around the Isle of Wight, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron and called the '100 Guinea Cup'. In 1851, an overseas yacht was allowed to participate for the first time. as part of the Royal Exposition of 1851. In response, a syndicate of six business men, led by John Cox Stephens, spent $30,000 to build a new racing schooner, “America” After sailing to France to be repainted and outfitted with racing sails, she was entered in the 58-mile race around the Isle of Wight. Sailing against 17 other British yachts, “America” finished 18 minutes before her closest competitor. As “America” finished, Queen Victoria asked which vessel was second. This question resulted in the famous response, "Your Majesty, there is no second."
Several existing large British yachts, ‘Astra’, ‘Candida’, ‘White Heather II’ and ‘Britannia’, were converted to comply with J Class ruling and raced alongside the J's. Of the true J-Class, only ten were ever built (4 in the UK and 6 in USA) and these raced together for just seven seasons from 1930 to 1937. With the loss of the King in 1936, 1937 saw a new racing season but it was all a bit half hearted and there were ominous rumblings in Europe, racing on the scale it had been was no more, and declined.
The crew had joined “Shamrock V” J3 at the beginning of the season and it would be decided by the outcome of the regatta races which boat should represent us and to bring back the trophy lost seventy nine years earlier, the crew were chosen on sea skills and three crew from Looe in Cornwall were chosen A.J.Pengelly, Joe Uglow, and Jack Sargent , A.J.Pengelly had previously sailed on “Velsheda” and another J Class, so was well experienced. They did the regatta tour, Smoker as I remember had mentioned the Cornishmen and said that they were a tough bunch, and used to seas being less kind than that of the North Kent Oyster drudgers and flatsmen. Shamrock exceeded expectations racing at the 1930 Regatta’s, The King in his “Brittania “ giving “Shamrock V” the most tactical problems which she surmounted and earned the right to challenge for the cup. Smoker went on to say after competing successfully, “Shamrock V” sailed to Gosport where she readied herself for the journey across the Atlantic to Newport. Rhode Island, United States.
It was July 1930, the off day, we were given a send off befitting the task that was entrusted to us, apart from the Atlantic crossing which was daunting enough, entering waters that were unknown to all of us, certainly the crew , we were all a little apprehensive the morrow saw us making good headway nose to wind and blowing a stiff sowesterly, the wind after a while gained strength to the point of being uncomfortable the crests between waves were shorter than our length which caused, on about every third crest our bow would dig into the wall of water, causing a lot of water over the bow, then the bow would rise quickly and the stern would be under the safest place was amidships with safety lines on, A.J.Pengelly said that this boat was built for speed and not rough weather, he was also quoted as saying he would sooner have made the crossing in his own boat “Our Daddy” (still afloat today) although less than half the length was built to withstand these conditions. The crew stood watch at four hours on and four hours off, Smoker said that “Shamrock V” had taken a pounding she had sprung a plank and was leaking badly, Smoker organized running repairs which were a temporary measure and made for the Azores to effect proper repairs. 48 hours later saw us again on our way but the wind was still south westerly and was to remain that way for the duration, Smoker said that sleep was a luxury, all the crew were wet through and there was not a dry place on the boat, changes of clothing were wet through and the cooks tried to muster food for the crew but alas it was mostly sandwiches for the duration, in all the crossing took twenty six days, and Smoker said dryly, that was twenty six days of hell. Like all trials when they arrived at Rhode Island there were boats of all shapes and sizes coming out to meet them, fire tugs with all hoses fired up escorting them in, the hooters and sirens were deafening and as they neared the quayside the people lined the quay in hundreds cheering and whistling waving flags, quite a lot of “Jacks”, blowing trumpets and whatever else could make a noise, as the tugs nudged her gently into her berth, she had no engines, the hellish trip over faded into obscurity, we were left bathing in friendly welcoming sounds which almost made you feel really special.
A great welcoming ceremony was held at the yacht Club where the food suddenly improved, Smoker remembered making a bit of a grunter of himself but he wasn’t alone and some even had the luxury of a hangover he recalls. The following day saw the yacht making ready for her challenge, and it was Smokers job to check and double check sails, warps, halyards, standing rigging, rudder mechanism , sheets, cleats, winches, blocks, all this done she was now ready to compete. The following day was spent fine tuning, studying charts, the race course, and discussing race tactics, which may have to be revised should the weather differ from the forecast it was a bit hit and miss in those days.
The race day came and moorings were slipped “Shamrock V” and “Enterprise” were towed out to open water and the start line, with a great many small craft following, eager to see these majestic giants do battle for yachting’s most coveted and prestigous prize, the Americas Cup, as it was now known. Over the next few days the races took place Smoker did not go into detail only that the weather was perfect for sailing but at the end of the agreed number of races to decide ownership of the cup “Shamrock V” had lost four out of four races they had a real trouncing the night following final race a farewell dinner was held in honour of the challengers at the “Hotel Belvedere, Rhode Island” and no great thing was made of America successfully defending the cup, but Smoker remarked that “Enterprise” could point to wind a lot closer than Shamrock, A. J. Pengelly also made reference to this, and of the thirty crew only ten were on deck at any one time, the rest were engaged below working the winches even trimming sails was done below decks, Enterprise was also made of Duralumin, Aluminium to us, including the frame , this would have made her about one third lighter than Shamrock none of the rules on class build were compromised and we were beaten fair and square.
It is gratifying to know that the J Class “Shamrock V”, “Velsheda”, and “Endeavour” are still sailing to this day, and the legend lives on, I must also add that having lost the trophy in 1851 the United Kingdom has never won it back, ever. Countries that have been successful are Australia, Once, New Zealand Twice, and lastly Switzerland, Once.
I would like to dedicate this article to the memories of Smoker Stroud, and Alfred (A.J.Pengelly) from Looe, Cornwall (Who wrote the book “Oh for a fishermans life in 1979”) and whose son Terry, T.J.Pengelly who I am in touch with and has kindly donated pictures for this article, they have given me inspiration for this article, and also to the selfless fishermen who left families behind in the summer months when little or no fish was to be had, and to join the large yachts and race the summer season regatta’s on the south coast, thus earning enough money to keep their families fed and the landlord from the door,
Regards and fair winds
Dave Jordan
Email:- pixelman@btinternet.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta
Victory of the “America” 1851,
or how we lost the cup.
The race at Cowes on Friday ,for the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup and furnished our yachtsmen with an opportunity of realising as our trans-Atlantic brethren would say, what those same dwellers beyond the ocean can do afloat in competition with ourselves. None doubted that the “AMERICA” was a very fast sailer, but her powers had not been measured by the test of an actual contest. Therefore when it became known that she was entered amongst the yachts to run for the cup on Friday, the most intense interest was manifested by all classes, from the highest to the humblest, who have thronged in such masses this season to the Isle of Wight; and even her Majesty and the Court felt the influence of the universal curiosity which was excited to see how the stranger, of whom such great things were said, should acquit herself on the occasion. The race was, in fact, regarded as a trial heat from which some anticipation might be formed of the result of the great international contest, to which the owners of “America” have challenged the yachtsmen of England, and which Mr R. Stephenson, the eminent engineer, has accepted by backing his own schooner, the “TITANIA”, against the “AMERICA”.
Among the visitors on Friday were many strangers, Frenchmen enroute to Havre, Germans in quiet wonderment at the excitement around them, and Americans already triumphing in the anticipated success of their countrymen.
The cards containing the names and colours of the yachts described the course merely as being ”round the Isle of Wight” the printed programme stated that it was to be “round the Isle of Wight, inside Noman’s Buoy and Sandhead Buoy, and outside the Nab” The distinction gave rise, at the close of the race, to questioning the “America’s” right to the cup, as she did not sail outside the Nab Light; but this objection was not persisted in, and the Messrs Stevens were presented with the cup.
The following yachts were entered. They were moored in a double line. No time allowed for tonnage:-

Beatrice, Schooner 161 Sir W.P. Carew
Volante, Cutter 48 Mr J.L. Craigie
Arrow, Cutter 84 Mr T. Chamberlayne
Wyvern, Schooner 205 The Duke of Marlborough
Ione, Schooner 75 Mr A. Hill
Constance, Schooner 218 The Marquis of Conynham
Titania, Schooner 100 Mr R. Stephenson
Gypsy Queen, Schooner 160 Sir H. R. Hoghton
Alarm, Cutter 193 Mr J. Weld
Mona, Cutter 82 Lord A. Paget
America, Schooner 170 Mr J. B. Stevens and Co
Brilliant 3-mast Schooner 392 Mr G. H. Ackers
Bacchante, Cutter 80 Mr B. H. Jones
Freak, Cutter 60 Mr W. Curling
Stella, Cutter 65 Mr R. Frankland
Eclipse, Cutter 50 Mr H. S. Fearon
Fernande, Schooner 127 Major Martin
Aurora, Cutter 84 Mr T. E. Le Merchant

At 9.55 the preparatory gun was fired from the Club-House battery and the yachts were soon sheeted from deck to topmast with clouds of canvas, huge gaff topsails and balloon jibs being greatly in vogue, and the “AMERICA evincing her disposition to take advantage of her new jib by hoisting it with all alacrity, The whole flotilla not in the race were already in motion, many of them stretching down towards Osborne and Rhyde to get good start of the clippers. Of the list above given the TITANIA and the Stella did not start, and the FERNANDE did not take her station( the latter was twice winner in 1850, and once this year; the Stella won once last year) Thus only fifteen started, of which seven were schooners, including the “BRILLIANT” (three masted schooner) and eight were cutters. At 10 o’clock the signal gun for sailing was fired, and before the smoke had well cleared away the whole of the beautiful fleet were under weigh, moving steadily east with the tide and a gentle breeze. The start was effected splendidly, the yachts breaking away like a field of race horses; the only laggard was the America, which did not move for a second or so after the others, Steamers, shore Boats, and Yachts of all sizes buzzed along each side of the course, and spread away for miles over the rippling sea, a sight such as the Adriatic never beheld in all the pride of Venice; such, beaten though we are ,as no other country in the world could exhibit; while it is confessed that anything like it was never seen, even here, in the annals of yachting. Soon after they started a steamer went off from the roads, with the members of the sailing committee, Sir B. Graham Bart ,Commodore, Royal Yacht Squadron, and the following gentlemen:-Lord Exmouth, Captain Lyon, Mr A. Fontaine ,Captain Ponsonby, Captain Corry, Messrs Harvey, Leslie, Greg, and Reynolds. The American Minister, Mr Abbot Lawrence, and his son Col Lawrence ( attaché) to the American legation, arrived too late for the sailing of America, but were accommodated on board the steamer, and went round the island in her; the several steamers, chartered by private gentlemen or for excursion trips, also accompanied the match.
The GIPSY QUEEN, with all her canvass set, and in the strength of the tide, took the lead after starting, with the Beatrice next, and then with little difference in order, the VOLANTE, CONSTANCE, Arrow, and a flock of others. The AMERICA went easily for some time under mainsail (with a small gaff-topsail of a triangular shape, braced up to the truck of the short and slender stick which serves as her maintopmast), foresail, fore-staysail, and jib; while her opponents had every cloth set that the Club Regulations allow. She soon began to creep upon them, passing some of the cutters to windward. In a quarter of an hour she had left them all behind, except the CONSTANCE, BEATRICE, and GIPSY QUEEN which were well together, and went along smartly with the light breeze. The yachts were timed off Noman’s Land Buoy, and the character of the race at this moment may be guessed from the result.

Yacht Hours Mins Secs
Volante 11 7 0
Freak 11 8 20
Aurora 11 8 30
Gipsy Queen 11 8 45
America 11 9 0
Beatrice 11 9 15
Alarm 11 9 20
Arrow 11 10 0
Bacchante 11 10 15

The Other six were staggering about in the rear, and the WYVERN soon afterwards hauled her wind, and went back towards Cowes.
The AMERICA speedily advanced to the front and got clear away from the rest, off Sandown Bay, the wind freshening, she carried away her jib- boom; but as she was well handled, the mishap produced no ill effect, and during a lull which came on in the breeze for some time subsequently, her competitors gained a trifling advantage, but did not approach her. Off Ventnor the AMERICA was more than a mile ahead of the AURORA, then the nearest of the racing squadron; and hearabouts the number of her competitors was lessened by three cutters, the VOLANTE having sprung her bowsprit, the ARROW having gone ashore and the ALARM having staid by the ARROW to assist in getting her off. But from the moment the America had rounded St. Catherine’s Point, with a moderate breeze at S.S.W., the chances of coming up with her again were over. The WILDFIRE which, though not in the match, kept up with the “Stranger” for some time, was soon shaken off, and of the vessels in the match, the AURORA was the last that kept her in sight, until, the weather thickening, even that small comfort was lost to her. As AMERICA approached the Needles, the wind fell and a haze came on, not thick enough, however, to be very dangerous; and here she met and passed (saluting with her flag) the Victoria and Albert Royal Yacht, with her Majesty on board. Her Majesty waited for the AURORA and then returned to Osborne, passing the America again in the Solent. About six o’clock, the AURORA being some five or six miles astern, and the result of the race inevitable, the steamers that had accompanied the yachts bore away for Cowes, where they landed their passengers. The evening fell darkly, heavy clouds being piled along the northern shore of the strait; and the thousands who had lined the southern shore, from West Cowes long past the Castle, awaiting anxiously the appearance of the winner, and eagerly drinking in every rumour as to the progress of the match, were beginning to disperse, when the peculiar rig of the clipper was discerned through the gloom, and at 8h.34m o’clock (railway time, 8h. 37m., according to the secretary of the Royal Yacht Squadron) a gun from the flag-ship announced her arrival as the winner of the cup. The AURORA was announced as at 8h.58m.; the BACCHANTE at 9h. 30m,; and ECLIPSE at 9h.45m,; the BRILLIANT at1h.20m,;(Saturday morning). No account of the rest.
On the evening after the race there was a very brilliant and effective display of fireworks by land and water along the Club-house esplanade, at which 6000 or 7000 persons were present. A reunion took place at the Club-house; and the occasion was taken of Mr. Abbot Lawrence’s presence to compliment him on the success of his countrymen. His Excellency acknowledged the kindness in suitable terms, and said that, though he said he could not be proud of the triumph of his fellow- citizens, he still felt it was but the children giving a lesson to the father.
On Saturday evening the AMERICA was sailed from Cowes to Osborne, in consequence of the intimation that the Queen wished to inspect her. The Victoria and Albert also dropped down to Osborne. At a quarter to six, the Queen embarked in the state barge, accompanied by his Royal Highness Prince Albert and suite, and on nearing the America, the national colours of that vessel were dipped, out of respect to her Majesty, and raised again when her Majesty proceeded on board. Her Majesty made a close inspection of the AMERICA, attended by Commodore Stevens, Colonel Hamilton, and the officers of the yacht. The queen remained on board half an hour, and expressed great admiration of the general arrangements and character of this famous schooner. On her Majesty leaving, the American colours were again dipped, and her Majesty proceeded in the barge to Osborne, where she arrived at half past six o’clock.
And so ended a fateful day for competitive sailing, the cup was taken back to America and to this day it has never taken a place at the Royal Yacht Squadrons headquarters, Cowes, we have tried many time to recover this prestigious trophy but alas it has always eluded us.
This is a true account of that days proceedings in August 1851 as was witnessed by a reporter of the Hampshire Chronicle and written in his own words, but little did he realise the long term impact the Victory of the AMERICA would have in the annals of Yacht racing

That day in August, 1851, the yacht America, representing the young New York Yacht Club, would go on to beat the best the British could offer and win the Royal Yacht Squadron's 100 Guinea Cup.

This was more than simply a boat race however, as it symbolised a great victory for the new world over the old, a triumph that unseated Great Britain as the world's undisputed maritime power. The trophy would go to the young democracy of the United States and it would be well over 100 years before the Cup was taken from New York, the American's domination was so complete.

Shortly after America won the 100 Guinea Cup in 1851, New York Yacht Club Commodore John Cox Stevens and the rest of his ownership syndicate sold the celebrated schooner to an Irishman and returned home to New York as heroes. They went on to donate the Cup to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be "a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations." Thus was born the America's Cup, named after the winning schooner America, as opposed to the country.

The America's Cup is without a doubt the most difficult trophy in sport to win. In over 150 years since that first race off England, only three nations other than the United States have won what is often called the oldest trophy in international sport. For some perspective, consider that there had been nine contests for the America's Cup before the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.

The America's Cup is a challenge-based competition where the previous winning Yacht Club makes the rules and hosts the event, often making it difficult for the challenging Club(s) to take the Cup home. Early in the history of the Cup, these obstacles were completely insurmountable and the Defender was never threatened. In fact, despite a couple of close calls, it would take 132-years for a foreign Challenger to beat the American Defender and win the Cup.