Adela's fine figure in dress rehearsal

Click to follow
The Independent Online
It was almost the same as 146 years ago in the Solent yesterday as, in solitary splendour, the 170ft schooner Adela powered her way to the Royal Yacht Squadron finishing line at Cowes after racing round the Isle of Wight. In time-honoured tradition there was no second, the next boat being but a shape appearing out of the gloom, miles behind at Yarmouth.

On the wheel was America's best-known skipper, Dennis Conner, at his shoulder Britain's Peter Bateman, and strewn all over the lovingly laid teak decks, and in the warmly panelled interior below, were nearly 50 crew and guests.

There was little to console the British in 1851 when the schooner America, on 27 August, beat the best of Britannia to win the 100-guinea cup that was to be turned by the New York Yacht Club into the America's Cup.

She, too, won easily in a project to prove that the new world could beat the old. At least Adela was built in Britain, recently restored at the Pendennis shipyard in Falmouth and modified from the 1903 version designed by William Storey and built at Northam, Southampton.

In a grandstand finish, beating along the green into 12 knots just south of east, the towering sails made the houses seem small as the cannon signalled a time of 6hr 4min. It was over an hour before the next yacht, the 135ft Sariyah finished. The next pair, the 183ft three-masted Adix, built in Spain in 1984, and the 135ft Mariette, built by Nat Herreshoff, were separated by 69 years in age but only 62sec on the water and Mariette started 20min after Adix.

Rich men's placings, it seems, do not change. But this time the replica of the schooner America was last of the nine to complete the east-about 50-mile course in what was also a dress rehearsal for a 150th anniversary race in 2001.