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Royal Ulster's John Taylor Presents the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup in Auckland

25th February 2021
The Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup
The Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup has been presented in Auckland Credit: RUYC

Since 1970 it has been the tradition that Royal Ulster Yacht Club in Bangor on Belfast Lough, presents the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup to the America's Cup Challenger's Yacht Club. When the first Challenger series was run in that year, RUYC decided it would be a fitting tribute to Sir Thomas's memory to present a trophy to the winner of the challenger series. He had challenged five times with his yachts, all called Shamrock, through Royal Ulster as he was not admitted to the elite Royal Yacht Squadron until 1931, shortly before his death. It is said that both King Edward VII and King George V shared their interest in yachting with Lipton and enjoyed his company.
The club, therefore, commissioned the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup.

But how was this presentation going to be possible during the pandemic? Through a stroke of luck, it did go ahead on 24th February. That's where the man in Auckland came in. Member John Taylor and his wife Charlotte live in the city, and John agreed to present the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily. John is well known in sailing circles in Belfast Lough, and pre-Covid regularly spent the summer in Bangor.

Lipton was of Irish parentage and lived in Glasgow. After humble beginnings and years of working in America, in 1870, he established Lipton's Market in that city. This enterprise was successful, and a chain of groceries followed. When his empire had grown to 300 stores, he entered the tea trade and established the Lipton brand.

Royal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club SicilyRoyal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily Photo: COR/Borlenghi

The first occasion the Trophy was presented was to Gretel II entered through Royal Perth Yacht Club. This was presented by Karl Smyth, Honorary Secretary RUYC at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Newport, Rhode Island. Since 1970 RUYC has presented the Trophy on 13 occasions. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are the current holders, and they were first presented with this Cup in 1995, then again in 2007, 2013 and 2017, so they have been the custodians for 18 years, making them the longest holder.

In recent months, RUYC Hon Secretary Garth Maxwell built a working relationship with Hayden Porter, CEO of RNZYS, who also sits on the America's Cup organising Committee in New Zealand. John and Charlotte Taylor are well known in both yacht clubs in Bangor, where pre-COVID-19, he regularly spent his summer months.

RNZYS hosted a small dinner on the night of the 24th February, sponsored by Prada, to facilitate the presentation of the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup by RUYC. The Ida Lewis Yacht Club also presented their Pell Cup, a trophy they have presented to the Challenger since 1958.

The small but exclusive guest list includes Francesco Longanesi Cattani - Prada, Agostino Randazzo-Commodore - Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club, Max Sirena – Director and Skipper Luna Rosso Prada Pirelli, Aaron Young – Commodore, RNZYS, Hayden Porter – CEO, RNZYS, Simon Davidson – Commodore, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and of course, John Taylor - all with their respective partners.

A letter of congratulations from HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Commodore of Royal Ulster, was also sent.

Published in America's Cup
Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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