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Code Flag Lima: Kimball Livingston (USA) asks, 'How long has this been going on?'


SAN FRANCISCO (#1062) – [Kimball Livingston has been a leading sailing author and journalist for three decades. As a historian, he has a biography of Albert Soiland – founder of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Southern California Yachting Association, Pacific Coast Yachting Association and Transpac Yacht Club – due out in the fall. As a forward thinker, he is a leader in youth sailing on the West Coast and keen to shake it up. A longtime friend and esteemed past Commodore of St Francis Yacht Club, Kimball has sailed, and raced, more than a bit. –TFE]

We in the USA are overdue to stir up a conversation about whose old trophy is really old and still in play. This comes to mind because my club just won the San Francisco Perpetual Challenge Trophy, which dates to 1895, and I have known for a long time that Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club’s claim to have “the oldest yachting trophy, originating in America, that is still in active competition” is not…exactly…spot on.

The first competition for the San Francisco Perpetual Challenge Trophy was held on August 31, 1895. Race One for the inaugural Seawanhaka Cup was held on September 23, 1895. I don’t want to make too much of a three-week delta. More than that, we recognize that our SF Perpetual is a regional game. A grand regional game, perhaps, but one that has never mattered beyond San Diego Yacht Club, the past winner most distant from ​the​ windy, cold, nasty-tasting but blessed patch of water ebbing and flooding past the windows of St. Francis Yacht Club.

By contrast, the Seawanhaka Cup was a force in the development of 20th century international yachting, and it is inseparable from the history of the sport that we love. Hats off to the Seawanhaka Cup. But I do think that our friends from the Mysterious East Coast might want to insert the word “international” into their claim, which as far as I know would then be indisputable. My reason for writing is to ask: If this misinformation exists, what else is out there? Can we crank up a dialogue about who has what and where and…. How long has this been going on?

The St Francis Yacht Club team, led by Staff Commodore Doug Holm (grey shirt) and skippered by Russell Silvestri (center behind the trophy), that won the San Francisco Perpetual Challenge Trophy from Long Beach Yacht Club last weekend. Photo courtesy of StFYC.

Apropos Kimball's clever concluding interrogative, a reprise of "How Long," the 1974 hit song by the British group Ace from their album Five-A-Side that many of our Dear Readers will remember. It reached No. 3 in the US and Canadian charts, and No. 20 in the UK chart. According to YouTube, lead singer Paul Carrack composed the song upon discovering that bassist Terry Comer had been secretly working with other bands. Comer returned to Ace in time to play on the song when it was recorded. The Ace song was not, therefore, about infidelity as most of us of a certain age assumed.