When it was first announced in October 1959, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, then Australia's Governor General and Commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Australia's challenge for the America's Cup caught British yachtsmen with their pennants down. One British yachtsman in particular, H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and patron of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, was incensed at the idea of intruders from down under horning in on what he deemed a purely domestic prerogative. The following correspondence, made available to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED at the suggestion of Sir Frank Packer by the Australian Consolidated Press, discloses for the first time the Prince's frustrated efforts to reestablish Britannia's rule over the waves.
The Secretary, Australian Yachting Federation
It has become increasingly apparent over the past few months that following the defeat of the challenger (Sceptre) in the America's Cup series, a number of people in several Commonwealth countries including the United Kingdom are considering mounting another challenge.
Some of these latter, with other interested yachtsmen, met together in London to consider in an entirely informal manner some of the problems which will arise between a number of potential challengers coming forward reasonably simultaneously or at intervals.
There are clearly many facets of the problem which this informal gathering could make no attempt to solve. There was, however, a large measure of agreement that a committee should be set up consisting of the interested parties in this country in order to coordinate their efforts to the best advantage and to decide amongst themselves how and when challenges should be issued.
However, the meeting was aware that there were several potential challengers in other Commonwealth countries and those present felt that it might be to the mutual advantages of all concerned to invite all the potential challengers in the Commonwealth countries to meet together and discuss the subject.
As a basis for discussion, and no more, it was suggested that a Commonwealth Co-ordinating Committee might be set up. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, indicated that were such a committee formed he would be prepared to accept the chairmanship.
It is now understood that the New York Yacht Club is not prepared to accept a challenge unless the challenger has taken part in some form of elimination races. This is another problem which the committee might tackle.
We would like to invite potential challengers to become members of the proposed Commonwealth Co-ordinating Committee and to ask whether it would be possible for them to attend a meeting in this country during the first fortnight in May or any other time they care to propose.
We will then endeavour to circulate as much information as possible to all members of the committee so that they may come to the meeting apprised of other people's problems and difficulties.