1851 America's Cup

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0th America's Cup
Defender  United Kingdom
Defender club: Royal Yacht Squadron[1]
Yacht: 8 cutters, 9 schooners
Challenger  United States
Challenger club: New York Yacht Club[2]
Yacht: America[1]
Location: Isle of Wight, UK [1]
Dates: 22 August 1851[1]
Winner: New York Yacht Club[2]
Score: 1:0

The 100 Guineas Cup[3] or Hundred Guinea Cup[1] (£100 Cup)[4] regatta of 1851 was the first competition for the America's Cup trophy.[1] Originally, Cup of One Hundred Sovereigns, the value of the trophy was 100 pounds-sterling, hence its names, variations on 100 Pound Cup.[NB 1][5][2] The race was won by the yacht America, leading to the trophy being renamed "America's Cup".[1] The 1851 competition was the first to compete for the trophy now called the America's Cup, hence the 1851 America's Cup or 0th America's Cup being zeroth, sequentially preceding the first America's Cup of 1870. The event "The America's Cup" would not be founded until 1857, when the deed of gift established the America's Cup racing regattas.[1] The 1851 edition was a fleet race, unlike modern America's Cups finals, which are currently match races.


The race originated with an invitation for the Great Exhibition of 1851 by the Earl of Winton, then Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS), inviting the recently formed New York Yacht Club (NYYC) to enjoy the facilities of the clubhouse of the RYS. John Cox Stevens, Commodore of the NYYC responded positively, and anticipated racing. Due to the RYS rules of the time, other races in the 1851 RYS Regatta were restricted to RYS members and their self-owned yachts, so the R. Y. S. £100 Cup was established, open to anyone to enter. At a RYS meeting on 9 May 1851, the race was scheduled for 22 August 1851. This race was to be the first of a series of challenge races for successive £100 Cups. At the time, it was normal practise for the winners to own the cups that were won, and not to return them for the next race to be won by others.[5][6]


The trophy, worth 100 sovereigns in 1851, latterly affectionately known as the Auld Mug, distinguishing it from the racing regatta of the same name.[3]

The trophy, a bottomless ewer, is made out of 134 oz (3.8 kg) of silver, and is 27 in (69 cm) tall. The ewer was a stock item obtained from jeweler Robert Garrard in 1848.[5][6]

After the race it was engraved with the names of the yachts that raced against America, save the runner-up, Aurora.[5]


The regatta, held on 22 August 1851,[1] raced clockwise around the Isle of Wight in a fleet race.[3] The course was called "The Queen's Course".[5] The course was near Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight, where the Royal Yacht Squadron headquarters are located.[6] The race took place as part of the 1851 Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta.[7] The signal gun for sailing was fired at 10am, and the winner saluted by a gun from the flag-ship at 8:34pm (8:37pm railway time).

18 yachts were entered for the race, but only 15 yachts started the race. The yacht Fernande did not make the start, while Strella and Titania both got to the starting line, though did not start the race. Those yachts that raced were America, Alarm, Arrow, Aurora, Bacchante, Beatrice, Brilliant, Constance, Eclipse, Freak, Gipsy Queen, Ione, Mona, Volante, and Wyvern.[5]

Standing Yacht Class Tons Owner Designer/Builder Yacht club Time Notes
Winner America Schooner 170 John Cox Stevens, Edwin Stevens, James A. Hamilton, George L. Schuyler, Hamilton Wilkes, John K. Beekman Finlay George Steers / William H. Brown New York Yacht Club 10h34'
2nd Aurora Cutter 47 Thomas Le Marchant Michael Ratsey / Cowes 10h58'
3rd Bacchante Cutter 80 Benjamin Heywood Jones Thomas and James Manlaws Wanhill / Poole 11h30'
4th Eclipse Cutter 50 Henry Samuel Fearon Wanhill Royal Western Yacht Club & Royal St George Yacht Club 11h45'
5th Brilliant 3-mast-schooner 392 George Holland Ackers John Rubie / Southampton 13h20'
DSQ/DNF Alarm Cutter 193 Joseph Weld Thomas Inman / Lymington
DSQ/DNF Arrow Cutter 84 Thomas Chamberlayne Thomas Inman
DSQ/DNF Beatrice Schooner 161 Walter P. Carew Camper
DSQ/DNF Constance Schooner 218 Marquis of Conyngham Joseph White / East Cowes
DSQ/DNF Freak Cutter 60 William Curling Wanhill
DSQ/DNF Gipsy Queen Schooner 160 Henry Bold Hoghton White
DSQ/DNF Ione Schooner 75 Almon Hill White
DSQ/DNF Mona Cutter 82 Alfred Paget Richard Pinney / Poole
DSQ/DNF Volante Cutter 48 J.L. Craigie Harvey / Ipswich Royal Thames Yacht Club & Royal London Yacht Club
DSQ/DNF Wyvern Schooner 205 Duke of Marlborough Camper
DSQ/DNS Fernande Schooner 127 Francis Mountjoy Martyn William Camper / Gosport
DNS Strella Cutter 65 Richard Frankland George & James Inman / Lymington
DNS Titania Schooner 100 R. Stephenson Robinson and Russell / Millwall

  • DSQ/DNF – competitor did not finish under the time limit
  • DSQ/DNS – competitor did not make it to the starting line
  • DNS – did not start – competitor did not make it off the starting line
  • DNF – did not finish
  • DSQ – disqualified



The trophy would be renamed "America's Cup" after the yacht America, that won the trophy. In 1857, the competition for "America's Cup" was declared, with the creation of the deed of gift. The first challenge would take place in 1870 under the deed of gift. This would initiate the oldest championship in sport.[1]



  1. ^ Guinea, Sovereign, Quid, Pound, Pound-Sterling, £; are frequently used interchangeably, though there are slight differences in value


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "America's Cup (Hundred Guinea Cup)". Britannica. 28 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "America's Cup yachts: Then and now". CBS News. p. 1/16 (1851). 
  3. ^ a b c ISAF (2002). "History of The Auld Mug – Introducing the America's Cup". Boat Dusseldorf. 
  4. ^ Yves Gary (18 October 2015). "Pictures of the £100 CUP (1851)". America's Scoop: America's Cup 1851–1937. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "The Yacht America". Royal Yacht Squadron. 2001. 
  6. ^ a b c "Royal Yacht Squadron Racing". Land Rover Bar. America's Cup. 
  7. ^ Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta, 1851 (poster), Royal Yacht Squadron, 1851