The Yacht Club
The State of the U.S. Yacht Club
An excerpt from the new book, Saving Sailing, by one of the most compelling new authors in this sport, Nicholas Hayes. Enjoy and support the sport – order a copy.
Yacht club lore is rich with tales of vast wealth, power and elitism, some of it accurate, but most of it greatly exaggerated and some of it patently untrue. A handful of yacht clubs were formed during the Gilded Age by industrial magnates like Carnegie and Vanderbilt. These titans agreed to gather privately near and on the water, not just because they liked their yachts, but because shipping and boat building were among the chief business interests of the members. These were exclusive business organizations where men in powerful positions gathered to share secrets and trade. They formed, not as communities of sailors, but instead, with missions to further naval architecture and boat building during the peak years of an industrial revolution that was transforming developed nations in the Americas and Europe. Water-born shipment of raw materials and consumer goods was exploding and speed meant advantage.
Clubs also became centers of high stakes gaming because the members felt that competition might drive technological advancement. The first America’s Cup race was won by a founding member of the New York Yacht Club, John Cox Stevens, to mark his wager that his pleasure yacht America was faster than Great Britain’s Royal Yacht Squadron. And it was.