Royal Mersey Yacht Club; A superb Royal presentation silver trophy

By Elkington & Co, Birmingham 1860 

height 32 1/2 inches (59cm

weight 169oz. (5044g)

The presentation inscriptions read;

The gift of her Majesty the Queen, To the Royal Mersey, Yacht Club Regatta, 1861.

Won by 'Aeolus', the property of Charles Tennant Couper, of Glasgow, 6th July 1861.

 

The Royal Mersey Yacht Club was founded in 1844 in Liverpool and moved to Birkenhead in 1846. In the early years of the club organised only few races and some cruises in company, but an infusion of new members engendered more enthusiasm for competition and the Club launched itself onto the Yachting scene with a major new Regatta in 1861. The dates were set for a three day event, on the 4th, 5th and 6th July, with races for cutters and schooners on the Club course down the Mersey and out to the NW Lightship. A splendid dinner was given at Liverpool Town Hall, hosted by the Mayor (who was also Commodore of the Club) with representative of most of the royal Yacht clubs of England present.

Mr Charles Tennant Couper Jnr, of Glasgow entered brand new Fife designed cutter Aeolus.

The first day's race, for a purse of 100 Sovereigns, was very stormy and Aeolus was run to a close second place.

The main event the next day, Friday, was for a splendid new silver cup, and as Hunt's Yachting Magazine describes it:

"The Prize for contention was Her Majesty's Cup, value £100, which it is said Her Majesty chose personally, and is a magnificent specimen of Art. It is of a vase shape, standing upon an ebony pedestal; festoons of ropes and chains surround the base of the bowl, the handles are formed by the figures of two sailors, in the act of saluting, most exquisitely executed; at the base are two coils of hawser, on each of which rests a silver anchor; and a chastely ornamented lid, surmounted by a schooner yacht under full sail. The usual presentation inscriptions and Royal Cypher are engraven upon the sides"

Seventeen vessels committed to the race, although only eight came to the line. Over the usual course, in much lighter winds, the race was closely contested but Aeolus was finally pipped at the post by her rival Thought. However, by a cruel twist of fate, the race had exceeded the stated time limit of 9 hours and so the result was declared invalid and the race was re-scheduled for the final day of the Regatta, Saturday 6th.

In this race, over the same course, Aeolus was hardly challenged and finished an easy winner, in front of her previous day's rival.

Hunt's Yachting Magazine concludes:

"Mr Couper, accompanying it with some brief and appropriate remarks upon the sailing of the Thought on Friday, and that of Aeolus on Saturday, expressed himself that it was almost a pity that so splendid a trophy could not be divided between two gallant champions; three hearty cheers were then given by the assembled yachtsmen respectively for the Aeolus and the Thought; the Cup having been filled with Champagne, the health of Her Majesty was drunk with all honours..."

Cutter Aeolus

Designed and built by Fife and Sons, Fairlie, and launched on April 24th 1861. She was 66.5ft overall, later lengthened by 2ft, and registered at 39tons.

Her first owner was Charles Tennant Couper Jnr, but he had sold her by the end of the year and Aeolus went through three more successive owners until she was purchased by William Fife in 1884, who kept her until she was broken up in 1893.

Price : On application