165 years ago today an upstart team of sailors, on a boat christened America, sailed past 15 others from the Royal Yacht Squadron to win the club’s annual race around the Isle of Wight, finishing 8 minutes ahead of the closest rival. The trophy they won, and brought home to the U.S., was renamed America‘s Cup and dedicated to ongoing competitions, becoming the oldest competitive trophy in international sports–predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. (1851)
Six years later, the surviving crew members donated the America’s Cup –named for the victorious vessel, rather than the country–to the New York Yacht Club, specifying that it be held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among nations.
After winning the trophy from England, the United States embarked on what would become the longest winning streak in sporting history, a 132-year stretch of domination that saw American boats successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 through 1980—until 1983, when Australia II became the first successful challenger to lift the trophy, bringing it home to the Royal Perth Yacht Club.
In modern competition catamarans and trimarans have been used, which are inherently faster than singl-hulled boats.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- 12 nations signed the First Geneva Convention to adopt international law protecting wounded soldiers, field medics and the Red Cross during battle, and to preserve a certain degree of humanity even in times of war (1864)
- Pope Paul VI arrived in Bogota, Colombia, the first visit of a pope to Latin America (1968)
- Neil Young released his album, After The Gold Rush (1970)
- Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson to become the first Major League Baseball pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts (1989)
- The last Jewish settlers left the Gaza Strip, ending decades of Israeli occupation (2005)
- Libyan freedom fighters flow into Tripoli without opposition marking the near collapse of Muammar Gaddafi (2011)
And, on this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first black competitor in international tennis, after US officials, bowing to pressure, invited the 23-year-old to play in the National Championships (now the US Open). Born in South Carolina to sharecropper parents who moved to Harlem when Althea was six, their neighbors took up a collection to pay for her tennis lessons. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals– then won both again in 1958. Often compared to Jackie Robinson, and with a lifetime total of 11 Grand Slam tournaments, she is called one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Watch the news clip below shows the moment she first walked on the court and played…