Yacht America, 1851


Yacht America

In 1850, a syndicate from the New York Yacht Club approached ship designer George Steers to build a larger “Mary Taylor”, the very successful pilot boat that Steers had built earlier. The plan was to sail the boat to England to compete there.

The New York Yacht Club was invited to participate in the British Royal Yacht Squadron’s 53-mile race around the Isle of Wight, which she entered with Richard Brown at the helm, the captain of the pilot boat Mary Taylor, who was also a friend of George Steers. The America won the race handily, bringing home the 100 Sovereign Cup, which would eventually become the America’s Cup. There is a famous legend that Queen Victoria had been watching the race when the America won by such a margin that upon asking who came in second, she received the reply “Your majesty, there is no second.”

The Model

Construction on the model is under way. Built from scratch, this plank-on-bulkhead model is being built at a scale of 3/16” = 1’ (1:64). After looking over the various plans available for the schooner, the Model Shipways’ kit plans were chosen. The model is built of a basswood framework with beech wood used for the keel, stem and sternpost. Deck planking is boxwood, while the hull planking is basswood and the model is copper sheathed below the waterline. Deck furniture, masts and spars will be primarily cherry.

I am choosing to represent the yacht as she appeared after the race that made her famous, with no jib boom. I have not yet decided whether to mount sails on the model, though I do intend to mount the ship’s boats on davits.

At this scale, the completed model will be approximately 25” long and a little over 20” high. This is the same scale that I built her predecessor, the pilot boat Mary Taylor in, and it is surprising to see how much she dwarfs her workboat cousin.

I chose to use commercially obtained parts to make the gratings of the cockpit floor and main deck hatch. However, the bulk of the model is being constructed from scratch. Other exceptions may be blocks, cordage and belaying pins.

The model features hull coppering created using a new embossing die I created using a photo-etch process on stainless steel. Using this system, I was able to create an authentic, realistic copper nail pattern that is consistent across all the copper sheathing.

The “Low, Black Schooner” was built in 1851. The boat was most famous for winning the 100 Sovereign Cup, which she brought home from England and which eventually became the America’s Cup.

This is a 1/64 scale scratch-built, plank-on-bulkhead model of the famous racing yacht. It will measure 25” long and just over 20” high and feature a coppered hull.