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Flagler Museum announces Capturing the Cup. Yacht Racing During the Gilded Age

Flagler Museum presents Capturing the Cup: Yacht Racing During the Gilded Age, an exhibition on view at the Flagler Museum from October 16, 2012 through January 6, 2013, tells the exciting story of yacht racing in America during America’s Gilded Age, the period that has also become known as the Golden Age of the sport. Works of art, artifacts, historic films, and elaborate gold and silver trophies made by the most important silversmiths, illuminate the history of the great yachts, races, and personalities of the period, like “the Gamest Loser in the World of Sports,” Sir Thomas Lipton, who won the hearts of Americans in spite of losing five America’s Cup challenges. Among the significant objects on display is a rare perfect replica of the silver America’s Cup, the oldest and most coveted prize in the world of sport.

Flagler Museum

Owned by a syndicate of New York Yacht Club members, America surprised everyone by winning the Royal Yacht Squadron’s competition for yachts of all nations around the Isle of Wight in 1851, the first year the cup was offered. Her radical design by George Steers, with a narrow, tapered bow and fuller stern, was essentially the opposite of the hull style preferred by British racers, the so-called “cod’s head and mackerel stern” style. America’s impressive victory over the best of the British fleet prompted one British sailor to proclaim that he had been sailing his yacht backwards. Artifacts related to America, such as a half model of the hull made by Steers for presentation to Queen Victoria and a fragment of her sail, are on display in the exhibition.

Subsequent competition for what came to be known as the America’s Cup helped ignite a craze for yachting and advanced nautical design in this country. The international competition has been a showcase for the best in the world of yachting ever since. During the late nineteenth century, America’s Cup competition between the United States and Britain was fierce. Competitive tensions came to a head during the unsuccessful 1893 and 1895 challenges by the Earl of Dunraven, resulting in disagreements over the rules, an allegation of cheating, and ill will on both sides of the Atlantic.

For more information, please call the Flagler Museum at (561) 655-2833 or visit

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