Several owners who had intended to start in the race did not come up to scratch; one American in a handsome yacht was prevented by his young wife; another American, Piver, on his way over from America in his trimaran with a full crew, had not yet arrived, and when he did he found he lacked enough time to chase after us and take part in the race. I met one of his crew in New York afterwards who told me that nothing would have induced him to try sailing it across alone. Piver had done well to sail it with a crew from west to east. Humphrey Barton had intended to start in his 12-ton Rose of York, but withdrew because he could not make her sail herself. He had made a forty-seven day crossing in Vertue with O’Riordan as crew.
In the tensed-up jockeying for position at the start I cursed one of my friends out alone in a yacht who baulked me. It was enough to keep clear of rivals, without having to dodge yachts, launches and a big trawler full of sightseers.
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The starting gun was fired. We were off! What a race! Instructions read, ‘Leave the Melampus Buoy to starboard and thence by any route to the Ambrose Light Vessel, New York.’
The others got away ahead of me, but I began to catch them up as soon as I had set my big genoa. Then I slowed down as I pinched into the wind, to squeeze past the breakwater without tacking. As I drew away from the land the wind freshened and the seas got rougher, and I was soon wet through with sea water and sweat reefing the mainsail. The difficulty was to get the sail to roll easily on the boom without someone at the aft end to haul out the creases and folds. The last I saw of David Lewis, he had tacked inshore after the breakwater. He was well to windward of me, and not far behind. That must have been just before his mast broke in two; he rigged a jury sail and sailed back to Plymouth, where the Mashford brothers repaired his mast for him and got him away to sea, again three days later. He is the only man I have heard of who has finished third in a race after breaking his mast at the start.