Around a hundred years ago in the heyday of a rambunctious America coming to terms with its place in the world, names like Vanderbilt, Plant and Pratt of the New York Yacht Club represented very wealth and power of the new world, and more importantly its ambition to challenge and beat the old world at the highest level.
This challenge came by way of magnificent racing schooners. With these beautiful yachts crewed by up to 40 “hands”, they set about to bloody the noses of the old worlds establishment, not great bankers or railroad men like themselves as old world power still rested with Kings, Queens, Kaisers and Tsars!
In the trials to select their “challenger” they set about, designing, building and racing incredible yachts with names like Schooner Elena, S/Y Sea Fox, Westward, and sailing yacht Atlantic. Sail yacht Elena raced against the Sea Fox for a chance to represent the NYYC, won and went on to win many times, but her defining moment of glory came in 1928 when under the ownership of William B. Bell she beat all comers, including the schooner Atlantic in the King’s Cup. This was a transatlantic race from New York to Santander in Spain for a trophy donated by the King of Spain himself. And the yacht Sea Fox? She headed to Barbados and “trade” but her fall from grace was caught by her new owner Lou Kennedy, immortalized in the book “The Last Schoonerman” this rogue loved to race, trade and drink Mount Gay Rum…
And so we get to the link of these mighty days, times and sailing giants to our little race around our incredible island.
Sailing yacht Sea Fox set the schooner time of 10 hours, 20 minutes in the first race round Barbados 75 years ago and the schooner Elena plans to break it in 2011.
Unfortunately both schooners did not survive the rigors of time, but in 2009 the new Schooner Elena of London an exact replica of the Elena of 1911 was launched using copies of the original drawings from the Herreshoff museum. Now, 100 years later, the new sailing yacht Elena intends to start her commemorative “centennial tour” by breaking the Sea Fox’s record here in Barbados on 21st January 2011.