Written and Edited by F. Carrington Weems II
Models Owned by F. Carrington Weems II
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“The upstart schooner that started it all,” said Joseph Gribbins about the schooner yacht America. This great yacht whose brilliant performance and spectacular winning of the “Hundred Guineas Cup” race around the Isle of Wight on August 22, 1851, distinguished New World, American shipbuilders and crews who had, in their adolescence, ascended over the long standing prowess of the old maritime world. From this great victory was born the America’s Cup which was first challenged by Mr. James Ashbury of England on August 8, 1870 aboard his schooner, Camria. He was defeated by the American yacht, Magic. For more than 100 years thereafter yachts sponsored by the distinguished New York Yacht Club were able to meet the challenge launched by the British and other nations, to defeat them and retain the cup, perpetuating the memory and honor of that first great race in 1851 and that relatively small schooner yacht America which defeated a fleet of large heavily canvasses cutters by 8 minutes, to the overwhelming astonishment of the British Nation, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The America was a uniquely American ship of Baltimore Clipper ancestry, built on the quick and weatherly model of the New York Pilot boats. She was a rakish little vessel typical of the U.S. fleet that was in the 1850s acknowledged, even by the British, to be the swiftest and smartest sailed navy in the world. American warships depended on speed alone for defense. The Yankee Clipper with its cloud of canvas was destined to become the fastest cargo carrying ship in the world.
America was built at the William H. Brown shipyard in New York by George Steers. Captain Dick Brown, the most renowned of New York pilots, became her master. America was the first yacht to cross the Atlantic, did so in 20 days, and proved to be the best of sea boats. America was unbeatable going to windward.
She was 101’ 9” overall, 90’ 3” on the waterline, 23’ beam, 11’ draft, displaced 170.55 tons, and had 5,263 square feet of sail.
The model has a solid wood hull, deck planks with pegs, skylights, two lifeboats, capstan, two anchors, standing and running rigging, appropriate spars, gratings, and flags, and is hand painted black and green. It has no sails. It was scratch-built by William E. Hitchcock in about 1985 to a scale of 3/16” = 1’.
The Model Maker
For thirty-five years, Mr. Hitchcock has been building ship models. Originally trained as a prosthetic engineer, Mr. Hitchcock refined his woodworking and modeling skills to a precision art when disabled by a heart condition. Considered a prolific builder, Mr. Hitchcock is probably best known for his stylized commercial or decorative quality models. His refined museum-quality work is evident in his models and dioramas on exhibit in the Schaefer Collection at Mystic Seaport Museum, the Peabody Museum, South Street Seaport, and in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the country.
The original rules for the America’s Cup were fairly straightforward. Any organized yacht club of any nation could issue a challenge, but the challenging vessel had to be between 30 and 300 tons. The match had to be sailed over the usual course set for the annual regatta of the club in possession of the Cup and the challengers had to set the date, name the vessel and its dimensions and rig six months in advance.
Over time more limitations were imposed. Yachts had to be constructed in the country which was to be represented, competing vessels were limited in their waterline measurements, only three races may be demanded in a challenge, and all races must be sailed over ocean courses with at least 22 feet of water depth.
Length: 112 feet
Beam: 24 feet
Private Steam Yacht
Length: 118 feet
Beam: 15 feet 6 inches
“STEAM HARBOR LAUNCH”
Built in 1900
Scale 1:500 (Miniature)
An outstanding scratch built model of a Polish training ship.
Tall ship, still in service.
Outer carrying case.
TWO MASTED ROYAL YACHT
Early small skeleton model
Built by Lloyd McCaffree (famous miniature model builder)
OPEN SPEED BOAT
Scratch Built Model of a Chris Craft Motor Yacht
Length: 32 feet