The year 1958 witnessed the dawning of a new era for the world's greatest yachting prize when, on 20th September, the first America's Cup Race for twenty-one years was staged on the hallowed course off the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A. The Second World War and its aftermath had intervened since the last series in 1937 and British yachting was at a thoroughly low ebb in the post-War years until rejuvenated by Hugh Goodson's formation of a syndicate with which to mount a serious challenge for the trophy in the mid-1950s. The largest extant thoroughbred racing yacht at the time was the 12-metre and although those boats seem huge and enormously expensive by modern standards, they were the obvious choice for the Cup races and perfectly in keeping with the traditions of the event.
In the absence of a suitable boat, as most of the 12's had been converted for cruising, it was decided to put the design for a new boat out to tender. After tank-testing (at Saunders-Roe in East Cowes) four pairs of models, including the example offered in this lot, David Boyd's model 'B' was selected by Goodson's syndicate and the order to build her, named Sceptre, was placed with Alexander Robertson & Sons at Sandbank, Argyllshire. Registered at 24.52 tons gross & net (35 Thames), she measured 69 feet in length with a 12 foot beam and was rigged as a sloop. Although the new challenger seemed impressive, the Cup races scheduled for September 1958 proved a huge disappointment and Sceptre was roundly defeated by the American defender Columbia which won all four heats by decisive margins. With hindsight, the syndicate simply chose the wrong boat with which to make their challenge and some commentators have taken the view that Goodson would have been better advised to have his own 12-metre boat Flica II put back into racing trim and challenged with her (see following lot).