In 1905, legendary Scottish-American skipper Charlie Barr – renowned for his many successful defences of the America’s Cup on behalf of his adopted home of the United States – was challenged to establish a Transatlantic sailing record from Sandy Hook off New York to the Lizard in southwest England writes W M Nixon
The vessel involved? The two-year-old 185ft three-masted schooner Atlantic, designed by William Gardner, whose special reputation was in big schooners.
The time of year? In May, when it was hoped strong winds of late winter would still prevail.
The event? A race among 11 very large yacht for the Kaiser’s Cup, presented by the German Emperor, who stationed one of his battle cruisers at the Lizard to time the finishers.
The result? Driven hard by a very determined Charlie Barr (despite some protests by owner Wilson Marshall, whom Barr ordered to go below), Atlantic crossed first in 12 days 4 hours and 1 minute, an average of 10.02 knots.
It may not seem much by today’s standards, but it stood for 75 years until broken by a giant multi-hull skippered by Eric Tabarly in 1980. As a mono-hull record, it stood for nearly a hundred years.
Atlantic was a much-admired vessel, the very best of her type. It was a matter of great sadness when she had to be broken up in the 1980s, as she was beyond restoration. Yet in 2010 a replica was built, which captures the spirit of the great schooner to perfection.
These vids show the power of the schooner Atlantic:
She’s well worth seeing, for she’s all of a piece, a very seamanlike looking vessel. And you’ve a chance to admire her, as she’s in Dun Laoghaire until Thursday, berthed at St Michael’s Pier. We happened to be there today to meet up with Hal Sisk on sailing history business, for Hal is Chairman of the International Association of Yachting Historians. And who better to be with when you’re admiring the mighty schooner Atlantic?