When an unknown yacht from the United States won the brand-new 100 guinea cup at Cowes in August 1851, the yachting establishment was utterly ignorant of the fact that the trophy itself would soon assume the name of the America’s Cup and the challenges for it would ultimately become the world’s most prestigious yacht races.
Similarly, when the New York Yacht Club accepted the trophy for safe-keeping that same autumn, the men who had won it were equally unaware that American yachts would henceforward dominate the competition to such an extent that the clubhouse where the cup resided would come to be regarded as its permanent home. In 1983, the American monopoly was broken when Alan Bond’s Australia II trounced the defending Liberty and brought the coveted trophy back to Perth in triumph.
As was to be expected, the New York Yacht Club, as well as the wider world, was stunned by the Australian victory and syndicates across the globe immediately began planning for the next challenge once it was perceived to be wide open in the wake of America’s startling defeat. Gradually, challengers emerged from Britain, Canada, France, Italy and New Zealand in addition to the U.S.A., the latter starting off with boats from no less than six yacht clubs, two of which initially entered more than one candidate. The various pre-match trials, culminating in those of October 1986, eventually whittled the field down to the two principal contenders, the San Diego Yacht Clubs Stars and Stripes and the Royal Perth’s Kookaburra III. The American challenger Stars and Stripes, 64¼ feet long and displacing 22.7 tons, was skippered by Dennis Connor was determined to regain the Cup whatever the cost, whilst the Australian defender Kookaburra III, 67 feet long and displacing 24.5 tons, was skippered by Iain Murray, a highly seasoned campaigner but one who perhaps lacked the same avenging zeal that drove Connor.
After four years of intense preparation, during which the budget for Stars and Stripes consumed an estimated $16 million (£10 million), the competition races for the 1987 America’s Cup were scheduled for the first fortnight in February. There were to be seven heats and the first boat to win a straight four would be adjudged the victor. Connor won the first race by 1 minute 41 seconds. The next day brought a second American victory, by 1 min. 10 secs and the day after saw Connor’s third consecutive win by a margin of 1 min. 46 secs. Both teams then took a day’s rest before Connor clinched the series the following day with a win by 1 min. 59 secs. It was a triumphant return to American form and Dennis Connor’s name passed into yachting history as the first man to win back the America’s Cup and Dews chose to commemorate his achievement with this remarkable composition that typifies Connor at his most daring as he fights for victory.
This Limited Edition Gouttelette Canvas has been printed with lightfast inks onto fine archival-quality cotton canvas, coated with acid-free priming for permanent artwork reproduction.