L'Esperance was skippered by Capt. Bartholomew Smith of Rowhedge and had a (mostly) Colne crew who were often placed on board one of Lord Dunraven's America's Cup challengers Valkyrie I or Valkyrie II (and vice-versa) in the run-ups to the Atlantic crossings and races. A successful yacht in her own right, L'Esperance kept many Rowhedge men in employment. Capt. Smith went on to skipper the even more successful Dunraven yachts Cariad I and Cariad II.
William Wadley Cranfield, skipper of Valkyrie I, is also stated to have skippered L'Esperance in 1892.
THE YACHTSMAN - 6 August 1891 - “NOTES AND NOTIONS - L’Esperance, Lord Dunraven’s new 61-rater, sailed well in her maiden race. She is one of the ideal boats produced by the present rule of measurement, although not intended to race in the open classes. Of course it must be taken into consideration that her sails and gear were on Saturday quite unstretched. Everyone knows how this handicaps any yacht, particularly the “settling down” and stretching of halliards, shrouds, &c. It may be safe to conclude that L’Esperance, in proper form, would sail from 10 to 15 minutes a better boat than she did on Saturday. Mr. Payne has made a hit, we believe, and our only wish is that his ideas have been to a certain extent hampered by the requirements of cruising qualities.”
THE OBSERVER – Sunday 9 August 1891 - “YACHTING – Southampton, Saturday – The annual regatta was to have been concluded to-day with a race between Maid Marion, Valkyrie, and Iverna for a first prize of £50 and silver medal, and a second prize of £25. Great disappointment, however, was felt when the members of the club and friends assembled on the steamer ready to start for the race, as it was officially stated that the latter had fallen through. Lord Dunraven had taken Valkyrie’s crew and placed them in L’Esperance, which was to race at Portsmouth, and Mr. Kennedy’s Maid Marion was not ready to start. Mr. Jameson’s Iverna was ready, but that gentleman, with characteristic and sportsmanlike spirit, declined to allow his vessel to sail over the course for the second prize.”
THE YACHTSMAN - 13 August 1891 - “SOUTHAMPTON - On Saturday, the concluding day [of the Royal Southampton Yacht Club regatta], there was only one match on the card, a race for yachts over 30-rating for £50 and £25, with a silver medal to the captain of the winning boat.
The Iverna, Valkyrie and Maid Marion were entered for this, but the day proved a fiasco. The committee and club steamers were engaged, the Lymington mark was laid down, and the cards were printed and painted, but just before the time fixed for the start it was made known that Valkyrie’s crew had been turned over to race L’Esperance, the Earl of Dunraven’s new fishing boat, at the Royal Corinthian match in the Solent. Mr. Kennedy had made up his mind the night before not to race Maid Marion, and Mr. Jameson, with the spirit of a true sportsman, declined to sail Iverna over for the £25 to which, under the conditions, he would have become entitled. The club steamer went on a trip to the Warren, and the company on board had a fine sight of Portsmouth Corinthian racing, but this was something like playing Hamlet with the principal character left out.”
THE YACHTSMAN - 13 August 1891 - “ROYAL PORTSMOUTH CORINTHIAN YACHT CLUB REGATTA - August 8. ... The day was clear and fine, but as the afternoon advanced it became dull and threatening, with the wind hardening down from W.S.W. A fine display of speed was witnessed in all the classes... L’Esperance had the misfortune to break the jaws of her gaff off Spithead on the last round, and lost what seemed a safe second prize... Handicap Match for yachts belonging to the club of 60-rating and upwards. First prize, £50, second prize, £25, both presented by Mr. A. H. Glennie, with helmsman’s prize, value five guineas, presented by Mr. F. C. Hill. Course, from the committee boat round the west buoy of the Brambles, the outer Spit buoy, and the Warner light vessel and back, twice round - 40 miles. Starters:- Lethe, yawl, 124, S.C. Watson; Columbine, yawl, 60, W.B. Paget; L’Esperance, cutter, 61, Lord Dunraven.
The handicap was - Lethe allows L’Esperance 9min. and Columbine 12min.
Balloon topsails were on all. Lethe and Columbine were too soon on the line and had to re-cross. L’Esperance got away nicely, and in the run out to the Warner held first place. However, in the turn back the big yawl soon went into first place, but could not lead the new craft by much. One minute separated the two on the first round, with Columbine 8min. astern. As the breeze freshened, Lethe began to put her best leg foremost, and L’Esperance lost the second prize by breaking the jaws of her gaff. The other two finished as follows:- Lethe (winner) 3h.14m.5s; Columbine (2nd prize) 3h.33m.5s. L’Esperance gave up, disabled.”
THE OBSERVER – Sunday 10 January 1892 - “YACHTING – At the end of last season it was reported that Lord Dunraven would content himself with L’Esperance, and would not again race Valkyrie, which has now gone into the sale list.”
THE OBSERVER – Sunday 5 June 1892 - “YACHTING – “The Earl of Dunraven’s last year’s cutter, L’Esperance, is once more afloat, having been launched by Summers and Payne during the past week. She is on the station, and will hoist her owner’s racing flag in the Royal Southern match, and also in the cup match of the Squadron. Cranfield, of Yarana and Valkyrie fame, will be at the helm.”
THE OBSERVER – Sunday 26 June 1892 - “YACHTING – “A great amount of discussion has been occasioned here amongst yachting men, owing to the action of H.I.M. the German Emperor. It will be remembered that at the recent regatta of the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Meteor won the handicap prize of £30 in the big class race. The Naval Attaché to His Majesty has now written refusing to accept the prize, and stating that the yacht never enters for a handicap, and on the occasion in question only sailed for the first prize of £50. The Earl of Dunraven’s cutter, L’Esperance, was the next vessel to finish after Meteor, but as she did not save her time allowance she cannot take the prize, which consequently reverts to the prize fund of the Club.”
“L’ESPERANCE” - HER RACES IN 1892, AS RECORDED IN THE TIMES
THE TIMES - Wednesday 8 June 1892 - ROYAL SOUTHERN YACHT CLUB REGATTA - on Tuesday 7 June 1892 - Match in the Solent for yachts of any rig exceeding 40 rating. 1st Iverna, Cutter, 118 tons, 5h.16m.45s; 2nd Meteor, Cutter, 116 tons, 5h.25m.48s; 3rd L’Esperance, Cutter, 5h.52m.30s.
THE TIMES - Tuesday 14 June 1892 - “ROYAL CINQUE PORTS YACHT CLUB REGATTA - on Monday 13 June 1892 - Magnificent racing marked the opening day of this regatta....MATCH open to all yachts of 25 rating and upwards. A handicap. First prize, £30; second prize £10. Course from Dover Bay round the N.E. Varne buoy, thence to the South Sand-head Lightship and back to Dover. Twice round........ and there was a difference of only nine (sic) seconds between L’Esperance and Lethe when they crossed the winning line. In the last-named race L’Esperance scored a meritorious victory....L’Esperance (winner) 5h7m21s; Lethe 5h7m31s; Creole 5h24m29s; Columbine 5h.24m37s; Vol-au-Vent (second prize) 5h.31m18s.”
THE TIMES - Thursday 7 July 1892 - “ROYAL CLYDE CORINTHIAN REGATTA - Rarely during the yacht-racing season is such exceptionally stormy weather experienced as prevailed yesterday on the Clyde. The wind was very strong from the south-south-west, the sea was heavy on the Firth, and the rain was of almost tropical violence...The Samoena won the handicap race, but Lord Dunraven’s cutter L’Esperance was leading when she got disabled....MATCH open to cruising yachts exceeding 35 rating. Two prizes. Course 40 miles. Starters:- Marjorie, Cutter, 69, tons, Mr. J. Coats, jun.; L’Esperance, Cutter, 61 tons, Earl of Dunraven; Samoena, Cutter, 88 tons, Mr. J. Nairn; May, Cutter, 40 tons, Mr. W.J. Chrystal... May led away on the beat down the Clyde, L’Esperance being second, then Marjorie and Samoena. Marjorie gave up through bursting her jib tack, and L’Esperance led round the weather mark with Samoena second. In the run up the Clyde May gave up and Samoena closed on L’Esperance in the reach home....On the beat down both Samoena and L’Esperance carried away some gear, but the latter (sic) got into sailing trim again and after passing her antagonist went on arrived an easy winner. The finish was:- Samoena (winner) 5h21m18s; L’Esperance 5h.53m0s.”
THE TIMES - Wednesday 13 July 1892 - “ROYAL LARGS YACHT CLUB REGATTA - The racing fortnight on the Clyde came to a conclusion yesterday with the regatta....It proved a fearfully squally time. Easterly gusts blew with hurricane force across the Firth....and a great number of owners declined to risk the chance of having their yachts dismasted ....In the handicap match the Lorna, L’Esperance, and May were the starters, and Lorna, when leading, carried away her gaff, after which L’Esperance gave May a steady beating and won....HANDICAP, for yachts exceeding 35 Y.R.A. rating. First prize, £30; second, £10....L’Esperance and May had dreadfully fluky breezes off Tomont End, but L’Esperance got away and led by 3min. 8sec. at the end of the first round. On the second turn L’Esperance gained over every mile sailed, and, with a reduced handicap for the shortened course, was an easy winner. The finish was:- L’Esperance (winner) 2h19m13s; May (second prize) 2h23m25s.”
THE TIMES - Tuesday 2 August 1892 - “ROYAL LONDON YACHT CLUB - On many occasions since the Royal London Club has had a branch at Cowes it has been favoured by good racing weather, and has consequently been able to open the Cowes week with a flourish. Yesterday proved no exception to the rule.....HANDICAP MATCH for yachts of not less than 30-rating. First prize £30; second prize, £15. Course from Cowes round the Warner Lightship, the Outer Spit buoy, and the East Bramble buoy. Twice round. Distance 40 miles... Creole, Maid Marian, L’Esperance, Columbine, Petronilla, and Reverie made a fine start, Castanet and Violet being some distance astern. In the run down to the Warner Columbine luffed across L’Esperance and got the lead....On the second round Columbine, Creole , and L’Esperance were virtually sailing a match for the prizes. The yawl managed to keep her lead and won, the timing of the finish being :- Columbine (winner) 3h4m10s; L’Esperance (second prize) 3h5m10s; Creole 3h12m48s.....”
THE TIMES - Wednesday 3 August 1892 - “ROYAL YACHT SQUADRON REGATTA - THE MATCH FOR HER MAJESTY’S CUP - on Tuesday 2 August 1892 - The opening day of the Squadron regatta was by no means favoured in regard to good racing weather... Corsair [the winner] was lucky not to stop on the Brambles, as she struck hard several times in running over the shoal. L’Esperance, however, was not so fortunate. When third in the race she went ashore hard and fast for a couple of hours.... L’Esperance, which was following Corsair, also struck on the Brambles, and she stopped there until high water, while the rest had quite dropped out of the hunt.” Corsair beat the German Emperor’s Meteor.
THE TIMES - Saturday 6 August 1892 - “ROYAL YACHT SQUADRON REGATTA - In brilliantly fine weather the Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta came to a conclusion yesterday. It was a breathless morning, and the broad expanse of the Solent was without a ripple.... Queen Mab made a desperately bad start, and L’Esperance was lucky indeed in having the road thus cleared...MATCH, for Royal Yacht Squadron prizes of £130, for all yachts of not less than 30 tons. R.Y.A. rules, scales, and allowances...First prize, £70, £40 for first vessel of other rig, £20 for third rig. Course from Cowes round flagboat off Yarmouth, back round Hill Head buoy, round the Nab lightship, and back to Cowes. Distance, 50 miles. Meteor, Cutter, 116 tons, the German Emperor; Lorna, Cutter, 90 tons, Major W.J. Murphy; Maid Marion, Cutter, Mr. M.R. Kennedy; Petronilla, Cutter, 57 tons, Mr. J. Ferguson; Waterwitch, Schooner, 130 tons, Mr. A. Henderson; Columbine, Yawl, 60 tons, Mr. W.B. Paget; Mohawk, Cutter, 45 tons, Mr. G. Barling; Queen Mab, Cutter, 40 tons, Mr. T.C.R. West; Neptune, Cutter, 42 tons, Mr. O.K. Dibb; Irene, Cutter, 40 tons, Prince Henry of Prussia; White Slave, Cutter, 40 tons, Mr. F.L. Popham; Thalia, Cutter, 40 tons, Mr. J.A. Inglis; Reverie, Cutter, 40 tons, Mr. A.D. Clarke; Creole, Cutter, 40 tons, Colonel V. Bagot; Hyacinth, Yawl, 50 tons, Mr. T.C. Garth; L’Esperance, Cutter, 63 tons, Lord Dunraven; Castanet, Cutter, 39 tons, Mr. W.R. Cookson; Arethusa, Cutter, 48 tons, Lord Dudley....In response to the starting gun at 10 o’clock Maid Marion, Thalia, Meteor, L’Esperance, and White Slave crossed the line in succession....[article concentrates mainly on Maid Marion and Meteor]....The timing of the finish was:- Meteor 3h12m29s; Maid Marion 3h27m43s; L’Esperance (winner by time) 3h32m13s; Thalia 3h41m32s...”
THE TIMES - Monday 8 August 1892 - “ROYAL PORTSMOUTH CORINTHIAN YACHT CLUB REGATTA - on Saturday 6 August 1892 - Wooton Creek was again chosen for the annual regatta of this club. A sailing breeze favoured the occasion... HANDICAP MATCH for yachts of 50 rating and upwards; first prize, value £50...second prize, value £20...Course, round West Bramble, Outer Spit, Warner light vessel, and committee vessel; twice round, about 40 miles. Columbine, Yawl, 60 tons, Mr. W.B. Paget; L’Esperance, Cutter, 62 tons, Earl of Dunraven; Hyacinth, Yawl, 48 tons, Mr. T.C. Garth; Petronella (sic), Cutter, 59 tons, Mr. J. Ferguson.
The handicap was - L’Esperance allowed Columbine 5min., Petronella 12min., Hyacinth 21min. The finish was:- L’Esperance (second prize) 3h.44min.23sec.; Columbine (winner) 3h.48min.5sec.; Petronella 3h.58min.43sec.; Hyacinth 4h.11min.2sec.”
THE TIMES - Friday 10 August 1892 - “ROYAL VICTORIA YACHT CLUB, RYDE - There was a fine sailing breeze at Ryde yesterday, and the yachts went from mark to mark round the course without a tack. It was a grand race between Iverna and Meteor.... In the handicap L’Esperance and Maid Marion sailed home a long way in front of the cruisers Hyacinth and Dolphin, but were unable to concede the heavy time allowances...MATCH for the Rear-Commodore’s cup of £50, and handicap prizes of £30 and £10. Course from off Ryde Pier and round the Warner Lightship, mark boats at Spithead and off old Castle Point, Cowes, and back to Ryde; twice round; 40 miles.....[L’Esperance barely mentioned in article].... The only features of this round were a luffing bout between L’Esperance and Maid Marion and the manner in which Meteor overhauled Iverna... A plainly sailed race ended thus:- Iverna 1h.26min.30sec.; Meteor 1h.27min.22sec.; L’Esperance 1h.46min.28sec.; Maid Marion 1h.46min.54sec...”
THE TIMES - Thursday 16 August 1892 - ROYAL ALBERT YACHT CLUB - on Wednesday 15 August 1892 - L’Esperance entered for the handicap race but is not mentioned in the article or results.
THE TIMES - Saturday 27 August 1892 - “ROYAL DART YACHT CLUB REGATTA - Yacht racing in the west was continued yesterday in Start Bay with the regatta of the Royal Dart. The prospect of unfavourable weather in the morning was happily not realized, the sky clearing about mid-day and bringing a pleasant west-south-west wind...In the handicap race the slippery Reverie had the best of L’Esperance and Columbine in the first part of the race, and her early advantage led to victory. L’Esperance went in smart style on the last round and gave Columbine her allowance for second prize...The finish was:- L’Esperance 5h.4min.35sec.; Reverie (winner) 5h.4min.49sec.; Columbine 5h.9min.12sec.; Hyacinth (second prize) 5h.27min.33sec.”
THE YACHTSMAN - 14 March 1895 - "SOUTHAMPTON. L'Esperance, cutter, the Earl of Dunraven, which refitted at summers & Payne's, has her crew on board and is ready for commission."
THE YACHTSMAN - 16 May 1895 - "SOUTHAMPTON. The Earl of Dunraven's L'Esperance, cutter, has arrived here this week from the Mediterranean, and will probably lay up at Summers and Payne's, her crew going on to the Clyde to fit out Valkyrie III."