Skippered by Andrew J. Comstock, Columbia won the first two 1871 best-of-seven races against Livonia. She was beaten by Livonia in the third race, in which Columbia, damaged from the second race, was skippered by Horatio Nelson "Nelse" Comstock. She was the first America's Cup defender to concede a win to the challenger. As Columbia was further damaged in this third race, she was unable to compete in the final races. The yacht Sappho substituted and won the America's Cup for the second time for the U.S.
Columbia ended her racing career in 1908, when she was dismasted and used as a houseboat in Brooklyn Harbor on the East River. Three years later she was rebuilt and sailed as a cruiser out of Newport News, VA. In 1920, Columbia was bought by a fisherman. She was declared lost in 1923.