Sunday, January 26, 2014

The America’s Later Career

I imagine that almost everyone has heard of the America’s Cup named after the ship that won a yachting competition held off the south coast of England back in 1851. When Queen Victoria heard that an American ship named the America had won the race, she asked, “Who won second place?”  The yachting official’s response was, “Madame, there IS no second place!”  For well over a century, the America’s Cup served as the source of an intense rivalry between filthy rich yachtsmen on both sides of the Atlantic who clearly had entirely too much time on their hands. 

I recently learned that the good ship America had an interesting post-racing career.  It served on both sides in the American civil war. When the war broke out, some wealthy southerners put the America into service as a blockade runner, until 1862 when they scuttled it to keep it from falling into Union hands.  Union forces promptly managed to raise and repair the America and put it work enforcing the blockade.  Sadly the America has not survived to this day.  It burned in a warehouse fire after serving many years at the U.S. Naval Academy.  I have always regarded yachting as the perfect sport for millionaires with a great deal more dollars than sense.

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