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Shamrock I.jpg

A racing yacht built by THORNYCROFT for Sir Thomas Lipton. Length 38.8 metres (127.3 ft), project WILLIAM FIFE III

Shamrock and Columbia in 1899


Shamrock i small.jpg



SHAMROCK I Royal Ulster Yacht Club, GBR, Edition 10 (1899)

Designer : William Fife III, Jr. Builder : J. Thorneycroft & Company

- 1899: Unsuccessful Challenger for the 10th America's Cup 1899

Shamrock I is launched on June 24, 1899 and christened by Lady Russell of Killowen. Its build has been shrouded by secrecy and its hull is hidden by canvas, as was the case for Thistle, in 1887.

The 1895 challenger Valkyrie III is refitted to be sailed as a trial horse for Shamrock I. Soon after its launch, Shamrock I races against the Prince of Wales' yacht, Britannia. The Irish challenger outpaces the royal yacht in two regattas on the Solent.

Shamrock I arrives in New York on August 18, 1899, and sails daily to train the crew for the Cup races.

The America's Cup

October 16 to 20, 1899, off New York, United States.

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

There are three race 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.


- October 16, first race, 30 mile windward-leeward course: Columbia beats Shamrock I by 10 minutes and eight seconds on corrected time. - October 17, second race, 30 mile triangular course: Columbia beats Shamrock I. Shamrock I did not finish - October 20, third race, 40 mile windward-leeward course: Columbia beats Shamrock I by six minutes and 34 seconds on corrected time.

Columbia beats Shamrock I by three wins to nil

During the second race, on the first windward leg, Shamrock's topmast snaps and the challenger withdraws. The same evening a new spar is fitted. The Irishmen add four tonnes of ballast, so the yacht is re-measured on October 18, but its sailing performance is not improved.

The Irish yacht's Steel mast is too bendy. During the 1899 yachting season, the boat goes through six sets of sails.

On November 2, 1899, Shamrock I leaves New York and is towed back to Great Britain by Lipton's steam yacht, Erin, via the Azores. It is dry-docked on arrival.

1901 Shamrock I is refitted by Lipton and sails as a trial horse for his new challenger, Shamrock II, a George L. Watson design.

1903 In April, Shamrock I is refitted again and sails as a trial horse for Shamrock III.

On May 28, 1903, with 41 crewmen onboard, Shamrock I sails to New York and races against Shamrock III before the Cup.

After the Cup, Lipton tries to sell his two yachts, without success.

1914 Shamrock I sails against Shamrock IV off Cowes before Lipton's fourth challenger sails across the Atlantic.

Shamrock I



Great Britain

Yacht club: Royal Ulster Yacht Club, Ireland

Unsuccessful challenger for the 1899 America's Cup

Owner: Sir Thomas Lipton

Rating: 101.092 and102.565

Designer: William Fife III, Jr.

Builder: J. Thorneycroft & Co, at Millwall on the Thames near London, England

Sailmaker: Ratsey, Cowes

Year of building: 1897-98

Launched: June 24, 1899

Skipper: Captain Archibald "Archie" Hogarth and his assistant, Captain Robert "Bob" Wringe

Afterguard: Jesse Connell and Captain Ben Parker


  • Construction: Composite metal
  • Hull below waterline: Manganese bronze plating
  • Topsides: Aluminum Alloy plating
  • Deck: Pine
  • Mast and boom: Steel welded


  • Length overall (LOA): 38.86m
  • Length waterline (LWL): 25.12m
  • Beam: 7.46m
  • Draft: 6.15m
  • Displacement: 156.9 tonnes
  • Tonnage: 135 tonnes
  • Sail area: 1214.30m2
  • Mast: 29.56m
  • Boom: 32.61m
  • Bowsprit: 8.60m
  • Topmast: 18.90m


Year of building 1898

Launched 24/6/1899

Edition 10 (1899)

  • Hull Steel
  • Mast Steel
  • L.O.A 38.86
  • L.W.L 25.12
  • Mast 29.56
  • Beam 7.46
  • Boom 32.61
  • Displacament 156.9
  • Draft 6.15