The replica of the first America's Cup winner, America, is to be auctioned at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London

A battle of the yachting nations will commence at 1600 GMT on Wednesday 14 December 2005 between the USA and the rest of the world as the replica of the first America’s Cup winner, America, is auctioned at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London.

With the America’s Cup itself now held in Europe’s hands, and with teams pouring millions of dollars into campaigns to win it back, the Americans are keen to gain the psychological advantage of taking possession of the yacht America before the 2007 America’s Cup.

“There is no second” was the famous reply made to Queen Victoria in 1851 when she asked ‘Who came second?’ after the original schooner America won the Royal Yacht Squadron’s race around the Isle of Wight, raced for a Cup of One Hundred Sovereigns.

“There is no second” is a phrase that Nicholas Bonham – former Chairman of Bonhams Auctioneers and an international yachtsman who has raced both the 12-Metre and the more modern America’s Cup yachts – is likely to remind bidders, for the replica of the yacht that the America’s Cup took its name from, when he conducts the auction. Only one will win the Lot of course? Auction registration forms are online at

The original yacht was destroyed in 1942 and this ‘original replica’ was built in 1967 by an American yachting enthusiast. Bonham enthuses: “She is a breathtaking boat that has been built in the spirit of tradition. Despite her being a replica she is recognised by the yachting world as authentic and her sale will cause an enormous ‘noise’ amongst yachting communities around the world.”

To possess such pedigree is a rare opportunity in itself, but her present owner has also devised plans for a refit and an itinerary including a guest appearance at the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia (in 2001 at the 150th America’s Cup anniversary in Cowes America was the flagship for the event, loaned to the Royal Yacht Squadron). Nicholas Bonham adds: “America provides a wonderful hospitality opportunity as she is definitely the ‘best seat in the house’ at future America’s Cups and other international regattas.”

It is appropriate that America is to be auctioned in England, since it was in Cowes that the original crew won the ‘One Hundred Sovereign Cup’ in 1851. She was brought to England to participate in the Great Exhibition (an event intended to show off Great Britain’s superiority as a nation) by an American syndicate that commissioned her building to show the best of America – with instructions from the New York Tribune: “If you do go and are beaten, you had better not return to your country.” By beating 14 British yachts that day, in front of Queen Victoria (who described her as ‘pretty’) America not only won the first ever international yachting challenge, she also reaffirmed the emergence of the United States of America as a world power.

The sale of America will enable the Hukka Trust (that owns her), based in New Zealand, to fund philanthropic projects in Africa. These projects include building schools and sponsoring a music project for children in troubled areas of Africa.