The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
The Yachts: Columbia


Columbia was the third defender modelled and built by Herreshoff. J. Pierpont Morgan and W. Buttler Duncan rebuilt Defender in order to use it as a trial horse for the new 1899 America's Cup defense candidate, Columbia which won the elimination trials over Defender easily.

America's Cup:
October 16 to 20, 1899, New York
Best three out of five races.
Columbia vs. Shamrock I

Three different courses:
- The first one, 15 miles to leeward and return from Sandy Hook Lightship
- The second one, equilateral triangle, 30 miles;
- The third one, 20 miles to leeward and return from Sandy Hook Lightship.  

Columbia beat Shamrock I by three wins to none 

- October 16, 1st race, 30 miles, Windward-Leeward Course: Columbia beat Shamrock I by 10 minutes and 08 seconds on corrected time.
- October 17, 2nd race, 30 miles, Triangular Course: Columbia won, Shamrock I withdrew.
- October 20, 3rd race, 40 miles, Windward-Leeward Course: Columbia beat Shamrock I by 06 minutes and 34 seconds on corrected time. 

Columbia sailed back to Bristol to be dry-docked and where an exceptional destiny waited for it. 

Columbia is the third defender designed by Herreshoff, although the talented designer focuses on another new candidate for the defense of the Cup, Constitution

But the New York Yacht Club Committee make a fatal error when they sideline Charlie Barr, victorious skipper of the 1899 Cup series, because of his Scottish origins. 

Barr bursts back onto the scene as skipper of the 'old' Columbia. He turns races against Constitution into tactical lessons. A row erupts when Bostonian Thomas W. Lawson commissions Independence as a defense candidate, even though he is not or has any intention, of belonging to the defending club, a requirement outlined in the Deed of Gift. 

The scow-type design performs embarrassingly, is too fragile and never a serious candidate. Before the Cup match had been decided, her hull is sold for scrap. 

Columbia and Constitution compete against each other on 18 occasions over the season, winning nine times apiece. The final elimination trials are held between August 10 and 25, 1901. Constitution, skippered by Uriah Rhodes, proves too inconsistent and Columbia, helmed by the aggressive Barr, is selected to defend the Cup against Shamrock II

America's Cup:
September 28 to October 4, 1901 off New York, United States 

Columbia races against Shamrock II in the best of five race series 

There are three course options:
- The first one is 15-nautical miles to lee leeward and return from Sandy Hook Lightship.
- The second one is a 30-nautical mile equilateral triangle.
- The third one is 20-nautical miles to leeward and return from Sandy Hook Lightship. 

Columbia beat Shamrock II by three wins to nil
- September 28, first race, 30 mile windward-leeward course: Columbia beats Shamrock II by one minute and 20 seconds on corrected time.
- October 3, second race, 30 mile triangular course: Columbia beats Shamrock II by three minutes and 45 seconds on corrected time.
- October 4, third race, 40 mile windward-leeward course: Columbia beats Shamrock II by 41 seconds on corrected time (Shamrock II beats Columbia by two seconds on elapsed time). 

Columbia beats Shamrock II by three wins to nil 

Columbia enters America's Cup legend as the first boat to win the trophy two times in succession. Only two other boats later equal this record: Intrepid in 1967 and 1970 and Courageous in 1974 and 1977. The 'old' Columbia beat the brand new Shamrock II in spite of the Irish challenger's scientific approach to design. The talent of Charlie Barr is considered the biggest factor in the successful defense. Sir Thomas Lipton concluded: "We have been beaten by a better boat". He should have said "by a better skipper". Designer Nathanael Herreshoff still regarded Constitution as the faster boat. 

Columbia is put on hold in Robert Jacob's yard at City Island. 

Columbia is refitted by Edwin D. Morgan and skippered by Captain "Lem" Miller, Charlie Barr's mate during the 1899 and 1901 Cup campaigns, in order to sail the elimination trials for the 1903 America's Cup defense. It is crushed by the impressive Reliance

Businessmen consider converting Columbia into a restaurant moored on the North River, but the project is scraped. 

The 1899 and 1901 America's Cup winner is transferred to the Hawkins Yard at City Island and cut up for the scrap. 7/2/2007


Crew: N/A 

Cup(s) Sailed: 1899 and 1901 (won)

Owners: J.Pierpont Morgan and Edwin D. Morgan

Year Built: 1898 to 1899

Launched: June 10, 1899 

Type: Fin Keel Sloop

Designer: Nathanael Greene Herreshoff

Builder: Herreshoff Manufacturing Company


Frames: Nickel Steel

Planking Top: Steel — Supplied by Lukens

Planking Bottom: Tobin Bronze

Deck: N/A

Mast: Steel, Oregon Pine

Boom: N/A

Spinnaker Pole: N/A 

Keel Ballast: Lead


Length Overall: 131.7 ft. / 40.15 m

Length Waterline: 89.4 ft. / 27.25 m 

Beam: 24.2 ft. / 7.39 m

Draft: 19.6 ft. / 5.97 m

Draft with Keel Lowered: N/A

Displacement: 148.7 tons

Tonnage: 102 tons

Sail Area: 3,901.3 sq. ft. / 1,189 sq. m 

Mast: 98.8 ft. / 30.1 m

Boom: 107.0 ft. / 32.61 m

Bowsprit: 26.7 ft. / 8.15 m

Top Mast: 39.5 ft. / 12.03 5/2/2007