In 1851, British yachtsmen challenged the New York Yacht Club to a race. It was won by a New York yacht called "America," and the winner's cup soon became "America's Cup." The race was held in New York harbor until 1930, when it moved to Newport, Rhode Island. These days, an "America's Cup" race can be held in far-off New Zealand.
American newspaperman and author Damon Runyon (1880-1946) made famous the "watch grass grow" expression when he wrote at the America's Cup from Newport in September 1934:
"There is nothing more unexciting than watching a yacht race unless, perhaps, it is watching the grass grow."
Wikipedia: America's Cup
The America's Cup is the most famous trophy in the sport of yachting, and the oldest active trophy in sports.
The cup, a silver ewer, is awarded to the winner of a match of up to nine races between two yachts from different countries, one representing the yacht club which holds the Cup and the other boat fielded by a club challenging for the trophy.
The race originated on August 22, 1851 when the 30.86 m schooner-yacht America owned by a syndicate representing the New York Yacht Club raced 15 yachts representing the Royal Yacht Squadron around the Isle of Wight. America won by 20 minutes.
Stung by this blow to contemporary perception of invincible British sea power, a succession of British syndicates attempted to win back the cup. The New York Yacht Club remained unbeaten for 25 challenges over 132 years, the longest winning streak in the history of sport. The matches were held in the vicinity of New York Harbor until 1930, then sailed off Newport, Rhode Island for the rest of the NYYC's reign.
National Maritime Museum (UK)
The National Maritime Museum has mounted a special display to mark the 150th anniversary of yachting's most prestigious race, the America's Cup.
In 1851, the British Royal Yacht Squadron challenged the New York Yacht Club to race for a 'One Hundred Guinea Cup', in the All Nations Race at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The New York Yacht Club's Schooner America defeated fourteen British yachts and the trophy was renamed the America's Cup in honour of the winner.
15 January 1870, New York (NY) Times, pg. 2:
The America's Cup - Additional Correspondence.
16 September 1934, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), "Old England 'Saved by Bell' as She Receives Another Star-Spangled Licking" by Damon Runyon, sec. 4, pg. 8, col. 3:
There is nothing more unexciting than watching a yacht race unless, perhaps, it is watching the grass grow.
22 November 1934, The Daily Northwestern (Evanston, IL), pg. 6, col. 2:
There is nothing more unexciting than a yacht race unless it is watching grass grow under ones feet. -- Damon Runyon.
22 September 1958, Washington (DC) Post, pg. A14:
NEWPORT, R. I., Sept. 21 - Damon Runyon's Guys and Dolls was merely one of America's legacies from that fine impressionist. He once wrote into a ten-word sentence a description of yacht racing that has gone ringing down through the years as the model of scorn for that esoteric sport with its spinnakers, liffs, jibs, jibes and complete reliance on windy drafts.
Runyon was reporting his first America's Cup race. It was a switch from his world of the violence of the fight camps, the crash of the World Series home runs, the race track whirl of fast horses and whipping riders, and the body-assaults of football. To the slow moving yacht races he reacted with impatience. "Watching an America's Cup race," he wrote, "is like watching grass grow."