America's Cup Boats
City Island and the America’s Cup Magic was completely rebuilt by David Carll in 1869 (lengthened and widened with increased draft) and converted to a centerboard schooner before winning the first defense against Cambria and a fleet of the finest New York Yacht Club yachts in 1870.
During the 1890s, many of the America’s Cup defenders, contenders, and challengers, including Vigilant, Defender, and Columbia, plus Shamrocks I and II, were serviced and stored at City Island by both the Hawkins and Piepgras yards.
During the first half of the 1900s, the America’s Cup defender Reliance was serviced, stored, and ultimately broken up at the Robert Jacob Shipyard. Defiance and Vanitie were serviced at City Island yards, and the challengers Shamrock III and IV were also serviced and stored at the Jacob yard.
From 1903 to 1958, every America’s Cup defender carried an inventory of Ratsey & Lapthorn sails, including Reliance (1903), Resolute (1920), Enterprise (1930), Rainbow (1934), Ranger (1937), and Columbia (1958). In addition, between the 1890s and 1980, alterations, rigging work, and new spars were provided for the contenders by many City Island concerns, including Hawkins, Piepgras, B. F. Wood, Robert Jacob, Ratsey & Lapthorn, Henry B. Nevins, Charles Ulmer, and Kretzer Boat Works.
Between the years 1935 and 1980, twenty 12-meter yachts were built in America, twelve of them at City Island. Eight were contenders for America’s Cup defense (Vim 12 US/15, Columbia 12 US/16, Constellation 12 US/20, Intrepid 12 US/22, Courageous 12 US/26, Enterprise 12 US/27, Independence 12 US/28, and Freedom 12 US/30). Of these, five were defenders in seven America’s Cup campaigns, Columbia in 1958, Constellation in 1964, Intrepid in 1967 and again in 1970, Courageous in 1974 and again in 1977, and Freedom in 1980.
The 110-year string of 24 successful campaigns to defend the Cup began with Magic, completely rebuilt on City Island in 1870 and ending with Freedom, built on City Island in 1980. Ironically, in 1983, when City Island had no connection with the defender, America suffered her first loss.
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The City Island Nautical Museum is operated by the City Island Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, which relies on donations, grants, and membership dues. Admission to the museum is $5 per person (no charge for members and children under 12). We welcome new members as well as contributions to our general fund and to our endowment fund, and all donations are tax deductible. Annual membership dues are: Individual $20; Family $25; Corporate $50; Student $10. Please make checks payable to the City Island Historical Society and send to City Island Historical Society, P.O. Box 82, Bronx, NY 10464.
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