This year will mark the running of the 34th Americas Cup in Bermuda, with hopes running high that for the first time in 166 years, Sir Ben Ainslie will finally bring the cup home to British waters. Whilst many people will no doubt have heard of the Americas Cup, few I suspect outside sailing, will appreciate the numerous British attempts to win it. The Brett Gallery collection of Limited Edition silver gelatin photographs from the Beken of Cowes archive showcases a number of the British entries into this famous race. Over the next few weeks, we will post various images from our collection.
This stunning photograph by Alfred John West shows the majestic sailing yacht Thistle sailing on the Clyde and was taken in 1887 the year of her launch.
Thistle was designed by perhaps one of the greatest British yacht designers in history George Lennox Watson. She was built by the famous D&W Henderson shipyard in Patrick on the banks of the River Clyde. Thistle was built for a syndicate of wealthy owners headed by James Bell and was entered by the Royal Clyde Yacht Club for the 1887 America Cup Challenge.
As with modern day Americas Cup challengers, Thistle was built under great secrecy during the winter of 1886 – 1887 and was launched with her hull covered by a huge canvas to keep her underwater profile a secret. In her first season of racing Thistle won or was placed second in 13 Scottish regattas.
In 1887 she set sail to New York as Challenger for the 8th running of the Americas Cup. At her helm were two brothers John and Charlie Barr, the latter of whom, would become perhaps the greatest America Cup Captain in history skippering three successful America’s Cup defenders. Alas, none of these was British!
Thistle was challenging the American yacht Volunteer but lost 2-0. Following her unsuccessful attempt, Thistle returned to England and had a few successful years of racing before being sold to the German Emperor Wilhelm 11 in 1891 for 90,000 gold marks when she was renamed Meteor until broken up in 1921.
We have 4 frame sizes available for this picture.Explore the picture