Thomas J. Lipton
Sir Thomas J. Lipton's interest in sailing began
at the age of fourteen when he talked his parents
into letting him sail from his native Scotland to
New York. Five years later, he returned to Scotland
with the equivalent of $500 and a lot of ideas on
how to expand his family grocery store. Within a few
years, he had 500 shops all over Great Britain and
was well on his way to accumulating the fortune that
made him the greatest and most generous sportsman
in the history of America's Cup racing.
Sir Thomas was loved and respected for his sportsmanship
as, one by one, all five of his SHAMROCKs were defeated.
In the only close series, SHAMROCK IV took the first
two races in 1920, but RESOLUTE came back to win the
next three. His final challenge came in 1930 with
SHAMROCK V, which lost in four straight races to ENTERPRISE,
skippered by Harold Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt summed
up the feelings of the American public when, after
the last race, he said:
"Uppermost in our minds is a feeling of sympathy
for that grand old sportsman, Sir Thomas Lipton, with
whom our relations have been so pleasant. This is
perhaps his last attempt to lift the America's Cup.
The ambition of a lifetime, to achieve which he has
spent millions, is perhaps never to be realized. It
has been our duty to shut the door in his face. In
defeat lies the test of true sportsmanship, and he
has proved to be a wonderful sportsman, quite the
finest it has ever been our good fortune to race against."
Although he was never able to win the Cup, the American
people presented Sir Thomas with a gold cup in honor
of his great sportsmanship. Shortly before his death
at the age of 82, Sir Thomas was voted into membership
in England's prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron.