The J-Class sailing yacht Shamrock V passes the Castle Hill Lighthouse on a calm day in Newport, Rhode Island. While this may seem like an everyday scene painted by artist Yves Parent, there is a rich history contained within its contents.
Parent, who was born in Normandy, was a passionate sailor whose adventures crewing in multiple offshore races informed his work with watercolors. Much of his work documented famous yachts, such as the one pictured here.
Shamrock V was built in 1930 for Sir Thomas Lipton, a Scotsman and founder of Lipton Tea. Constructed with mahogany planking over steel frames with a hollow spruce mast, she was the first British yacht to be built to the new J Class Rule and was designed to take Lipton on his fifth and last America’s Cup challenge.
Shamrock V showed great promise after her launch on April 14, 1930, winning 15 out of 22 races on the British Regatta. She was continuously upgraded before departing for America ahead of the 15th America’s Cup.
Unfortunately for Lipton, Shamrock V was defeated in the Cup by Harold Vanderbilt’s Enterprise, losing by three minutes in the first of the best-of-seven races and 10 minutes in the second. In the third race, Enterprise passed Shamrock V in a tacking duel in Newport. Shortly after, Shamrock V’s main halyard parted, causing her sail to collapse. Enterprise secured victory in the fourth race. Lipton passed away the following year without ever winning the cup.
Shamrock V changed hands multiple times after Lipton’s death, and despite undergoing multiple refits, it is the only original J-Class to have never fallen into dereliction. She is the only remaining J that was built in wood.
This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue.