The New Student's Reference Work/Yacht

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Yacht (yǒt), a small vessel so constructed as to secure elegance and speed, and exclusively employed for racing and pleasure-sailing, The first authentic record of a sailing club is in 1720, when the Cork Harbor Water Club, now known as the Royal Cork Yacht Club, was established in Ireland. But the boats were small. From this time to the end of the 18th century yachting developed very slowly. Yacht-racing as a pastime scarcely had a beginning at the opening of the 19th century. During that century, however, the progress was such that there are numerous yacht clubs in Europe and the United States, and improvements almost without number have been devised for increasing the speed and efficiency of vessels constructed for yachting purposes. As to the number of yachts now afloat, cruisers as well as racers, the British yacht-fleet, which in 1850 consisted of 500 sailing vessels and three steamers, now numbers over 4,000 yachts. Next to Great Britain the United States possess the largest number afloat, amounting to about 1,500. If to the foregoing are added the yachts of other countries, a grand total of 6,000 or 7,000 is reached. While the construction of sailing-vessels has wonderfully progressed since 1850, the building of steam-yachts has gone on still more rapidly. The building of yachts has changed greatly from the simple, unpretending brig, with small tonnage, clumsy build and baggy sails of the early yachts of the Royal Cork Club, to the immense flat sails, larger size and long, narrow shape of the yacht of the present. The effect of these changes was a great increase of speed. Racing yachts are schooners, cutters or yawls. The schooners nearly are always fore-and-aft rigged, i. e., not carrying square topsail yards on the foremast. The cutter differs from the American sloop in carrying a sail, termed the foresail, on a stay from the masthead to the stem, the jib a«id flying jib being set on a long running-bowsprit. The cutter, in fact, substitutes two head-sails for one used in the sloop. The yawl differs from the cutter in carrying a slightly reduced mast and boom, the latter leaving room for a small aftermast, stepped close astern, on which is set a lugsail sheeted home to the end of a running-boom. In racing the competitors use a large racing-sail, called a spanker, set on a long beam projecting from the foot of the mast at right angles to the vessel. The sail, which is flat and triangular, extends from the topmast head to the deck, on the opposite side to that occupied by the main-boom, though occasionally shifted to the bowsprit end. In 1851 the schooner America crossed the Atlantic and won the queen's cup from the Aurora. In the half-century following England made 11 vain efforts to win back the cup, the most exciting and hardest-fought race being the contest between the English Genesta and the American Puritan in 1885. Great interest was roused by the race between the Irish challenger Shamrock II and the American defender Columbia, winner in 1901 of the cup, which America has now won and held in 12 successive races. In 1903 the American Reliance was the winner against Shamrock III.