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09 S Ashbury James 1870

The America’s Cup has a long history of squabbling and bitter legal battles among the teams, and the first evidence of that was in 1870, when the New York Yacht Club entered 17 schooners into a fleet race for the Cup. James Ashbury, the sole English challenger, objected to the race rules, prompting a second challenge the following year.

The 1871 America’s Cup match was a precursor for many of the legal battles that would engulf the Cup over the next 100 years and more. After reportedly consulting his lawyers, Ashbury insisted on racing against just one boat, not an entire fleet and protested both the scoring of the races and the race committee who set the racecourse. In the end, he limped home complaining bitterly about poor sportsmanship on the part of the Americans and insisting he had actually won the America’s Cup, to no avail.

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