"Independence"


"The Hull Yacht Club's Americas Cup Entry




On October 2, 1900, J.V.S. Oddie, secretary of the New York Yacht Club, received a letter from Hugh C. Kelly of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, Belfast., Ireland. The letter was a formal challenge on behalf of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, and in the name of Sir Thomas Lipton, Rear Commodore, to the current holder of the cup, the New York Yacht Club. The challenge specified dates, some negotiable guidelines, and that the challenge be made against any other yacht or vessel constructed in the United States for the Americas Cup. New York Yacht Club accepted the challenge, and immediately placed an order to the Herreshoffs to construct a new vessel, later named Constitution.



Boston had defended the cup for three successive terms but had not participated in international racing for the 14 years thereafter. In 1900, Boston began the formation of a new syndicate. The Boston representation was lead by Thomas W. Lawson, a wealthy stockbroker and a member of the Hull Yacht Club. Before this venture into international racing, Lawson owned two vessels. Random was a 63' steam yacht purchased in 1898. Dreamer was a 148'6" steam yacht that was built for Lawson in 1899.



It appears that Lawson had three major obstacles to overcome; financing, credibility , and club affiliation. Lawson took care of the first issue by announcing that he would gladly pay for all costs himself. The second and third issue are related. Making money in the market was not considered respectable at the turn of the century. The Hull Yacht Club was one of the larger yacht clubs but was not known for international racing therefore, Mr. Lawson was not considered to be a member of an appropriate club. Mr. Lawson argued that "every American citizen, regardless of club affiliation, was possessed of the right to enter any vessel owned by himself in the trail races; and, if successful, to defend the cup.". New York, the current keeper of the cup and the club responsible for managing the match, denied Lawson from entering.



While discussions were going on, Lawson had begun building his Americas Cup boat, Independence. He approached and hired the Crownshields to design and oversee the building of the yacht. The Crownshields were very successful in building scows, knockabouts, and raceabouts up to 30 feet. The design was considered very radical. The vessel planned had the largest sail plan ever seen over 90 feet of waterline and 20 foot draft. Several builders, Herreshoff included, wrote articles on the potential speed of this vessel. The Boat was built by George F Lawley at the Atlantic Works in East Boston . She was launched May 18, 1901.



Although Independence was not allowed to submit an entry, she was invited to sail in several practice races with Columbia and Constitution. Independence raced throughout 1901 and 1902. She had some success but not great. I believe, in 1902, Lawson had her sail up onto a beach and at low tide, the boat was totally dismantled. Lawson went on and created a book called History of the Americas cup.





On a related note: The shingled water tower on the way to Scituate harbor, is Lawson Tower named after Mr. Lawson.