• Maritime Art auction at Christies

    Sale 5949

    Maritime Art

    11 November 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 138

    John Sutton (b.1935)

    The second defence of the America's Cup, 16-19 October 1871: Columbia leading Livonia

    Price Realised  


    John Sutton (b.1935)
    The second defence of the America's Cup, 16-19 October 1871: Columbia leading Livonia
    signed 'John Sutton' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    28 x 42 in. (71.1 x 106.7 cm.)

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    Despite Mr. James Ashbury's failure to bring home the America's Cup after his audacious challenge with Cambria was roundly defeated in August 1870, he remained not only undeterred but also determined to try again the following year. For this second official challenge, Ashbury commissioned a brand new yacht significantly larger than Cambria and one which he believed would bring him the triumph he so longed for. Named Livonia, after the Russian province where Ashbury had built a railway, the new schooner was designed and built by Michael Ratsey at Cowes and launced on 6th April, 1871. Registered at 273 tons gross (129 net), she measured 116 feet in length with a 24 foot beam and sported a vast 18,153 square feet of canvas under full sail.

    To counter Ashbury's challenge, the New York Yacht Club fielded the equally new Columbia which was designed and built by J.B. van Deusen for Franklin Osgood. She was somewhat smaller than Livonia in every respect including tonnage and yet, when the two yachts met for the first race on 16th October [1871], Columbia romped home 27 minutes ahead of the English challenger. Two days later she won the second race by almost 11 minutes and, even though Livonia won the third and last race on the 19th, Columbia was duly declared the winner of the series and the coveted trophy returned to the New York Yacht Club to await the challenges of the future.

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