Competing for the America's Cup has always been as complex an affair as the design of the trophy itself. And the expense had become, until the amended deed of gift of 1956, prohibitive. This combination, plus World War II, accounts for the longest lapse in sailing's famed contest since the first N.Y. Yacht Club syndicate went to England and won the Cup with the yacht for which it's named. The 21-year intermission ends next September in the waters off Newport, R.I. Then the Royal Yacht Squadron's 12-meter Sceptre meets the survivor among the four U.S. boats now readying for this summer's trials.
Sports Illustrated's preparation for the event actually began in our Oct. 15, '56 issue with the start of the four-part series on Harold S. Vanderbilt, who made the last of his three winning defenses in 1937 with the remarkable Ranger. In recent months SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has followed developments closely. An introduction to the challenger and defenders, The Old Mug Again, appeared last fall (SI, Sept. 9). In the Feb. 24 issue came the first peek at Sceptre, abuilding in veiled secrecy near Glasgow. The March 17 issue brought the test hulls of all five contestants; then, April 21, an exclusive report on Sceptre as she made her maiden voyage.
Despite rule changes which now sanction competition between 12-meter boats instead of the overcostly J's, the complexity around the Cup remains. So, too, the expense, for 12-meters are still at the far golden end of the sailing scale.
In next week's issue, however, Carleton Mitchell begins to unravel much of the complexity and reveal how the expense is borne. His story tells of the men—the owners and syndicates, the designers and the crews—and of the boats, now forced by strict class rules into a similarity which gives the men more importance than ever.
With a wealth of detail and factual background, Mitchell goes far to explain the excitement which characterizes yachting's greatest challenge. Few men are more qualified for the task. A famous sailor and owner of the singularly successful Finisterre, Mitchell is also, with four books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, a writer of international reputation. "I have," he says, "a compulsion to communicate the feeling of sailing."
And that is what he will be doing for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED from now until the September day when we know whether the America's Cup stays where it has been for more than a century or returns to England, which has tried to win it back all that time.