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America's Cup Will Be
"Properly" Restored

By Bob Fisher

LONDON, England

The world's oldest international sporting trophy, the America's Cup, is back with its makers, after 149 years, for repairs following the attack on it in New Zealand.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Commodore, John Heiss, handed the much hammered Cup to Richard Jarvis, the managing director of Garrards, whose founder, Robert Garrard, had crafted it in 1848 at their Regent Street, London showrooms. The America's Cup had occupied a first-class seat during the flight from New Zealand in its Louis Vuitton case.

Jarvis's initial comment was, "This is very major damage, which will take a long time to repair," adding that it would need the same type of violent treatment that had been meted out during the assault on the Cup by Maori activist, Benjamin Nathan. In his frenzied attack, Nathan struck some severe blows around the neck and bulbous middle of the baroque trophy. It is distorted, dented and broken ("misshapen" was Jarvis's word), but the historic engraving of the winners appears to be almost all intact.

The damage is undoubtedly severe and when interviewed about its condition, Jarvis drew an analogy with a motor car, saying, "If you took a car in this state to your garage, they would tell you that it was a write-off." Nathan appears to have concentrated his hammer attack at the neck and the middle section.

Jarvis has assigned senior silversmith, Rod Hingston, the task of restoring the America's Cup to its former glory. Hingston, after a 10-minute examination of the damage, estimated that it would take him two months, and that would include cutting the trophy into six or eight pieces in order that he can work from the inside. Hingston admitted, "It's worse than I thought, but I can repair it." However, he said there would not be need for any extra material — except in one part.

When asked whether he would be restoring the Cup fully, Jarvis paused before smiling. "The silversmiths would certainly wish to return the cup so that it can be used for its proper purpose," he said. He went on to elucidate that when the six identical pitchers had been crafted by Garrard a century and a half ago, they were intended to be used as wine ewers for the serving of all types of wine, including champagne, and would therefore have had a bottom.

He explained that when the bottom was taken out — during the Cup's long tenure at the New York Yacht Club — that action significantly reduced the Cup's antique value. He confirmed that he would instruct the silversmiths to restore the Cup so that it might be used for its intended purpose.

Hingston will be working from photographs of the Cup as Garrard's original drawings no longer exist, but one or two replicas have been made of recent date. While the Cup will be returned to its original, 1848 state, it will lose some of the charm that the slight dents which it suffered over the past 149 years had given it.

Garrards will carry out this work free of charge, a generous gesture, and one which saves Royal & Sun Alliance, which had insured it for free. The insurance company, however, paid for its flight to Britain. Garrards were not prepared to reveal the cost of the operation.

Bob Fisher is a renowned nautical
scribe living in Lymington, England.


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