During a fiercely competitive racing career lasting over twenty years, the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II bought or built five exceptional yachts -- all named Meteor -- which he raced vigorously against the finest British, Continental and American yachtsmen of the day. A grandson of Queen Victoria with a love of all things maritime, the Kaiser chose as his first Meteor the already famous America's Cup challenger Thistle which he purchased and renamed in 1891. Designed by the great G.L. Watson and built by D. & W. Henderson & Co. at Glasgow in 1887, Thistle was a steel cutter registered at 170 tons gross (100½ net). Measuring 98 feet in length with a 20 foot beam, she had been built for a syndicate headed by Mr. James Bell of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club and had run against Volunteer in the America's Cup races of September 1887. Failing to win back the coveted trophy, she nevertheless had a very successful career and proved the obvious choice for the Kaiser to launch himself upon the yacht racing scene. In 1893 he won the prestigious Queen's Cup at Cowes in her but, by 1895, she had been outclassed by several brand-new yachts, most notably the Prince of Wales's Britannia. Determined to beat his uncle's cutter, the Kaiser immediately ordered a replacement for Meteor (I) and her successor was completed in time for the start of the 1896 season. Rather than sell Meteor (I), the Kaiser gave her to the German Navy for the use of naval cadets and she was renamed Comet for her new rôle.