Closeup of the deck of the scale model of the yacht AMERICA. SAFR 5328
By Bill Doll, Preservation Manager
The America, designed by naval architect George Steers, won first place in the original 1851 race, a 53-mile-long circumnavigation, around the Isle of Wight, England. The America's owner took home the first place silver pitcher for winning the competition that would later be known as the America's Cup race.
Presently in the collection of the San Francisco Maritime NHP is a model of the schooner America. This model was given to Mr. Le Marchant, owner of the yacht Aurora, that placed second in the 1851 race. In 1959, the model was loaned to the San Francisco Maritime Museum (SFMM) and later became a gift. (The SFMM eventually became part of the park.)
Unlike the America's Cup races of recent memory, no yachting syndicates from California had formed to support the design and building of the vessel for the original race. California had only become a state in 1850.
Viewing the model, you are struck by the perfect likeness to the original vessel. It is purported that a model of the America was given to each of the 15 finishers of the original race on August 22, 1851.
We are fortunate to have this model in the collection as it links San Francisco Maritime to the great America's Cup tradition and especially the "World Series" races being held on SF Bay August 23-26, 2012-161 years since that first August race in 1851. The model will be on display in the Maritime Museum in the near future. See www.americascup.com/en/San-Francisco for more about the 2012 races and the 34th America's Cup race on the San Francisco Bay in 2013.