Sappho (yacht)

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Yacht club  New York Yacht Club
Nation  United States
Builder Cornelius & Richard Poillon Bros
Launched 1867
Owner(s) William Proctor Douglas
Fate Scrapped at Cowes 1887
Racing career
Skippers Samuel Greenwood
Notable victories 1871 America's Cup (with Columbia)
America's Cup 1871
Type gaff schooner
Length 42 m (138 ft) (LOA)
36.40 m (119.4 ft) (LWL)
Beam 8.22 m (27.0 ft)
Draft 3.90 m (12.8 ft)
Sail area 1,170 m2 (12,600 sq ft)

Sappho was one of two defender yachts at the second America's Cup challenge, stepping in when defender Columbia was damaged in the third race.


Sappho was built by Cornelius & Richard Poillon Bros on speculation for Richard Poillon to a design by William Townsend based on the lines of America.


In 1868, Sappho sailed across the Atlantic to England. There she entered the Round the Isle of Wight Race. Competing against the yachts Aline, Cambria, Condor, and Oimara, Sappho finished last. Her poor showing encouraged Cambria's owner, James Lloyd Ashbury, to be the first to challenge the New York Yacht Club for the America's Cup.[1][2][3]

Following her defeat, Sappho returned to the US where she was sold to New York Yacht Club member William Proctor Douglas.[4] Douglas turned her over to Captain Bob Fish who altered her hull, improved her ballast, and modified her rigging. The changes made her faster. In 1869 Sappho returned to England setting a record for the crossing of 12 days 9 hours 36 minutes.

In May 1870, Sappho won all of her races against Ashbury's Cambria. Despite losing to Sappho, Ashbury took Cambria to America to challenge for the America's Cup. He lost to Magic.

Unsuccessful in his attempt to wrest the Cup from the New York Yacht Club in 1870, Ashbury tried again in 1871, this time with his yacht Livonia. The selected defender was Columbia. Columbia raced the first three races winning the first two and losing the third. Sappho raced the newt two races winning both and retaining the America's Cup for the New York Yacht Club.

Sappho was sold in 1876 to Prince Sciarra de Colonia who raced her in the French Riviera. Upon the prince's death, Sappho was acquired by George Marvin who sailed her until she was scrapped at Cowes in 1887.


  1. ^ "Club History". Royal Harwich Yacht Club. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  2. ^ "1871 - Sappho". 33rd America's Cup. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  3. ^ Capt. Roland Folger Coffin (1885). "The America's Cup: How it was Won by the Yacht America in 1851 and Has Been Since Defended". Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 46–112. 
  4. ^ "William P. Douglas dead" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 June 1919.