Sparrowhawk on the horizon
“If you choose not to fight, consider yourself beaten”
It is the 1850’s. Britannia rules the waves and the Great Exhibition seems to flaunt the Empire’s superiority to the World. Until news reaches Britain of a new invention: an American yacht rumoured to be faster than anything built in the Old World.
Two men, divided by an ocean, yet united by their desire for glory, are determined to see a race between the American vessel and a British rival. But will the British sailing gentry oblige – or will they refuse to race the upstart newcomer?
This is a story about transatlantic rivalry, Victorian snobbery and great sportsmanship. It is the story of the world’s oldest international sporting trophy: the America’s Cup.
18 August 1851
“Most of us have seen the agitation which the appearance of a sparrowhawk in the horizon creates among a flock of woodpigeons or skylarks, when unsuspecting all danger, and engaged in airy fights or playing about over the fallows, they all at once come down to the ground and are rendered almost motionless by fear of the disagreeable visitor. Although the gentlemen whose business is on the waters of the Solent are neither woodpigeons nor skylarks, and although the America is not a sparrowhawk, the effect produced by her apparition off West Cowes among the yachtsmen seems to have been completely paralysing."