The Early Years 1892-1960
In April of 1892, just a few years after the New York Athletic Club took possession of Travers Island, the following brief, but consequential announcement appeared in the New York Athletic Club Journal:
"The Club's yachtsmen will be delighted to learn that the Board of Governors has decided to encourage yachting at Travers Island this season in a substantial manner. An adequate appropriation has been made for the erection of a house, 25 x 50 ft., a bridge, float, and wharf for the exclusive and proper accommodation of sailboats and launches. Members of the club who have heretofore kept their boats elsewhere will be able this season to transfer them to the Island, and to make this beautiful spot their summer home. To add to these inducements, the Yachting Committee, Messrs. Hausling, Rathbourne, and Miller, intends to make arrangements for a series of races. The situation of the Island, within easy reach of the best yachting waters in the vicinity, should make it a most desirable rendezvous. Our amateur sailors are urged to show their appreciation of the work of the Committee by making the most of the privileges afforded them."
Indeed they have! Starting in the summer of 1892, and continuing to this day, NYAC yachtsmen have taken excellent advantage of one of the finest protected harbors on Long Island Sound, and the sport of yachting has, for over a century, made its contribution to the spirit of excellence of the New York Athletic Club.
The earliest yachtsmen of the NYAC were unique in that these were men with a broad interest in amateur athletics, of which yachting was only one of the many sports they participated in. Two of our founders and our first two Commodores, Messrs. Hausling and Rathbourne were noted athletes of their day and each served the NYAC as Club Captain and Governor.
Fred M. Hausling was captain of the baseball team at Steven's Institute as well as chairman of their athletic committee. He was also a track and football star at Columbia. He served as NYAC Captain seven years after founding the NYAC Yachting Committee. He sailed the schooner REBECCA for many years until she was wrecked on the Delaware Breakwater in the fall of 1898.
Another of our founding fathers, and our second Commodore, Robert W. (Shorty) Rathbourne was one of the most decorated rowers of his day. He won the prestigious Diamond Sculls, an unprecedented five times, as well as the Double Sculls National Championship in 1879. "Shorty" Rathbourne was one of the earliest members of the New York Athletic Club, joining in 1870. He served as Secretary of the Club in 1873, and Club Captain in 1875 and 1876. He served as Commodore of the NYAC Yachting Committee for three terms, 1893, 1904, and again in 1906. Significantly, during his second watch as Commodore, he, along with his young protégé, Henry A. Jackson, organized the first NYAC Block Island Race. This race, now known as the NYAC Distance Race to Stratford Shoal, is the oldest distance race on Long Island Sound. He cruised and raced his sloop IO. and later his 42' racing cutter SALADIN from Travers Island for over 25 years. At his death in 1917, the cover of The Winged Foot was devoted to this NYAC pioneer.
During the winter of 1894, the Yachting Committee, now under the direction of Commodore F. W. Lawton designed the New York Athletic Club burgee. The design called for "a triangular flag, white ground with scarlet border, and the regulation 'Winged Foot' in the centre." By spring of that year, the first hauling ways had been built and a flag pole had been erected to fly the Club's new burgee. Also that spring, the Club's first steam launch was purchased and named appropriately MINSTREL to commemorate the Club talent show held at Carnegie Hall, that was instrumental in securing the funds necessary for her purchase.
A meeting of the New York Yacht Racing Association was held on June 22nd, 1894, at which the New York Athletic Club delegate, Mayhew W. Bronson, made his initial appearance. The NYAC was one of the charter members of this association, now known as the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound. In recognition of the Club's emerging stature in yachting, the first reciprocal agreements were announced with American Yacht Club, Larchmont Yacht Club, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, Horseshoe Harbor Yacht Club, and the New Rochelle Yacht Club.
The first NYAC Yacht Book was printed in 1895 under the direction of Commodore Mayhew W. Bronson. The list contained the names of about 90 yachts, including the victorious 1893 America's Cup defender VIGILANT, owned by members George and Howard Gould. Commodore Bronson also supervised the construction of a second and more elaborate clubhouse that replaced the original $1000 structure. In addition, the landing dock was extended and the ways were upgraded in order to service larger yachts.
By the end of the century, the New York Athletic Club attracted many of America's wealthy financial and industrial barons. Many of these men were avid yachtsmen. Names such as Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Belmont, and Gould were common in the NYAC Yacht Book. Of the 178 yachts listed in the 1899 Yacht Book, 23 were over 100 ft. LOA. The largest was the 306' steamer VARUNA owned by Eugene Higgins. While he was President of the NYAC, August Belmont was a leading member of the 1893 syndicate that defended the America's Cup with VIGILANT. Of the ten members of the 1903 America's Cup defense syndicate, half were members of the New York Athletic Club.
The NYAC was also becoming more visible in yacht racing. Some of the noteworthy achievements of those early years include those by Fred and William Oakes, who, along with H. M. Knapp, took three firsts out of four divisions in the 1893 Shrewsbury Yacht Club's Fourth of July Regatta. Another Club member, P. L. Howard, finished first in the annual New Rochelle Yacht Club Regatta that summer. In 1897, Eugene N. Robinson's cabin yawl JESTER won both the Huguenot Yacht Club Regatta in May as well as the Seawanhaka Corinthian Regatta in June. In 1902, NYAC yachtsman Addison G. Hanan, one of the most respected sailors in the United States, won a spectacular "come from behind" victory to enable the Rochester Yacht Club to defend the Canadian Cup against a fierce Canadian challenge. The following year, H. Mason Raborg and his Herreshoff designed 18 foot OPOSSUM was the first boat of her class to win a season championship on Long Island Sound under the New York Athletic Club colors.
Probably the most well known of our early yachting members, Wilson Marshall, set a transatlantic sailing record in May of 1905 aboard his 187' three masted schooner ATLANTIC, one of the largest yachts in the NYAC fleet. His record has stood for most of this century. His impressive passage, accomplished during his successful challenge for the "Kaiser's Cup", from Sandy Hook to the Lizard covered a course of 3014 miles in 12 days and 4 hours for an average speed of 10.4 knots. This achievement was worthy of front page news in the New York Times on May 30th, 1905. One account stated that his captain, Charlie Barr, the famous America's Cup skipper, came below one night when a severe gale was blowing and asked, "Commodore, if we are going to lay to, we must do it now or not at all. Reportedly, Marshall looked at him and said, "Captain Barr, I am racing," and Barr replied, "That is all I wanted to know, sir," and the Atlantic did not lay to.
NYAC Block Island Race
Notwithstanding some of the outstanding competitive achievements of some of our early yachtsmen, the NYAC had yet to achieve top rung status in the sport of yachting by the turn of the century. Commodore Rathbourne knew that no yacht club can, or ever will prosper without taking a leadership role in yacht racing. So, as reported in The Winged Foot, he decided to take the necessary steps to assure the NYAC a leadership position in the sport of yachting.
"In the summer of 1903, two good yachting cronies, Harry Jackson and Shorty Rathbourne, were down below in the cabin of the SALADIN safely at anchor in Lloyd's Harbor while a nor'easter blew itself out. The discussion turned to the possibilities of a race in which heavier built ocean boats could be competitive. Jackson recalled Rathbourne's exact proposal: 'Harry, what do you say if we run a race for the Club next spring so as to bar out all those short wasted fellows?' Jackson answered with enthusiasm, and that very evening they hammered out the date, course, and a thousand and one details. It was decided to inaugurate a race which was to start off Huckleberry Island and finish in Block Island Harbor."
In 1904 the NYAC's stature in the sport of yachting was dramatically enhanced with the initiation of the Club's first ocean race called the NYAC Block Island Race. The winner of the first race to Block Island was E. L. and R. B. Seward's POSSUM with Clifford D. Mallory's HANLEY second. This event created much interest among yachtsmen of America as well as England and catapulted the NYAC into the forefront of yachting. The NYAC Block Island Race started a trend among local yacht clubs, several of which, by 1906, added one or more distance races to their schedule. The Block Island Race and the professionalism of its administration were widely acknowledged.
Yachting commented: "This event is without question the most popular long-distance race on the coast, its popularity being due in some measure to the fact that it is sailed under the over all rule of measurement, a rule which gives some of the older and smaller boats a good chance against the newer and faster craft; but probably more from the fact that it is an ideal distance for such a race, the 100 nautical miles of the course being usually negotiated inside of 24 hours."
The Winged Foot boasted after the 1909 event: "The NYAC's sixth Annual Block Island Race was by all odds the greatest small boat racing event ever pulled off in the Sound or in any water. This year's event doubled the number of boats ever brought to the line by any other club in the history of the sport. This magnificent record is one which places the NYAC in the very front ranks of yacht clubs. The scene was a picture in which a marine painter would have glorified. Everyone for miles around who owned or whose friends owned a sail or power boat, was on hand to witness the start. So many boats started that it was impossible to determine which crossed first. The Sound resounded with a cheer from the assembled fleet for "the Club that made Block Island famous!"
The New York Herald concurred: "The manner in which this annual sailing race has been managed and the persistency of its promoters deserve the commendation of the yachting community. While the officials of the Club who were interested in the inauguration of the race should be commended, it remains to be noted that for real courage and downright persistency Mr. Henry A. Jackson, Chairman of the NYAC's Yachting Committee, is a shining example, and he deserves the thanks of the Club's associates and all the boys along the Sound for the development and success of the annual contest under his management."
Thomas Fleming Day, the widely respected editor of Rudder, and a giant in the sport of yachting at the turn of the century, and an avid participant and promoter of sailboat races was eager to encourage similar competition among the growing fleet of power boats. He generously donated to the NYAC a sterling silver cup for a power boat race over the same course as the NYAC Block Island Race.
The first NYAC Block Island Power Boat Race was initiated in 1908, and it rapidly grew into as major an event as its older sister, the sailboat competition. The winner of the Thomas Fleming Day Trophy was ERONEL, owned by Commodore S. Cokernut of Bensonhurst Yacht Club. Both the power and sail races were run on the same day over the same 100 mile course. In the early years the Power Boat Race was a flat out race to Block Island with cruisers of different sizes competing in different divisions. Because the handicapping rules were constantly being contested as larger and more powerful engines were developed, the race evolved into the predicted log format in the 1930's. Predicted log racing was largely pioneered and developed by NYAC yachtsmen, originating with the McAleenan Cup, a NYAC sponsored race from Huckleberry Island to Lloyd's Harbor, in 1919, won by the inimitable Henry A. Jackson.
By 1912 The Winged Foot proclaimed: "The Mercury foot flag can now claim to be flown as widely as any other ensign, and many of the enthusiastic members of the Club on distant waters loyally fly the emblem." Through its sponsorship and professional management of the Block Island Race, the New York Athletic Club had achieved a preeminent position in the sport of yacht racing. Indeed, the NYAC Yachting Department had become one of the best known yachting organizations in the country, evident in the fact that the Club announced reciprocal agreements that year with 43 well known yacht clubs on both the east and west coasts.
Commodore Jackson must also receive credit for the success of the Annual NYAC Lloyd Harbor Cruise which was also initiated in 1904. By 1910, four hundred participants, including ninety ladies and representatives from seven reciprocal yacht clubs, went on this annual NYAC Labor Day excursion. Over 100 boats, both power and sail were in the fleet. The program consisted of a feeder race to Lloyd's Harbor, dingy races, a horse race, a running race, a sack race, assorted games, a clam bake, a costume contest, swimming and other amusements, capped off by music supplied by the Huntington Band. Commodore Jackson "was largely responsible for the tremendous success of the party," according to The Winged Foot.
The Yachting "Department" is Organized
From its beginnings in 1892 through 1912, the Commodore of the NYAC Yachting Committee reported directly to the NYAC Athletic Committee, chaired by the Club Captain. Recognizing the growing interest in yachting and the complexities of running a proper yachting organization, the Board of Governors voted on April 23rd, 1912 to organize a separate NYAC Yachting Department with its own officers, who had fiduciary responsibility for the Department, and its own by-laws. The officers of the Yachting Department, heretofore, would be elected by its members and they would report directly to the Board of Governors. This far-sighted action by the Board Of Governors facilitated a far better managed organization by empowering members familiar with yachting to run the Department. In addition, by elevating the Yachting Committee to Departmental status, the NYAC put its yachting officers on a par with the ranking officers of other yacht clubs along the Sound.
On December 19th, 1912, the NYAC Yachting Department hosted an extraordinary dinner attended by over 200 yachtsmen to honor our most famous Honorary Member, Sir Thomas J. Lipton. The dinner was held in the Main Dining Room of the Club, which was decorated with huge shamrock flags, the emblem of Sir Thomas' native land and the yachts under which he had challenged for the America's Gup. The Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes were draped together, and a thousand colored yachting pennants were suspended from the chandeliers. Among the noteworthy guests were Commodore Wilson Marshall, owner of the "Kaiser's Cup" winner ATLANTIC, and old friend of Sir Thomas; Thomas Fleming Day, who had just crossed the Atlantic by the northern passage in a 35' motor boat with a 16 h.p. engine, the commodores and flag officers of half a dozen reciprocal yacht clubs; as well as several prominent military officers, politicians, journalists, and local yachtsmen. Commodore Emil Heuel of the NYAC introduced Vice Commodore Edward A. Summer, as toastmaster, who read letters of regret from the President of the United States, two U. S. Supreme Court Justices, and assorted university presidents. He then introduced Sir Thomas as "a man who has done more to promote good feeling between the mother country and ours than any Ambassador who ever crossed the ocean in either direction, a true sportsman loved by all." Sir Thomas was given a rousing ovation, three ringing cheers, and a rendition of "He's A Jolly Good Fellow," which everyone sang. When the demonstration had subsided, Sir Thomas began his remarks with a tribute to the New York Athletic Club which, he said, "is known all over the world, as an institution that fosters all kinds of amateur sports, including, I am glad to say, yachting, the best of all sports, to my mind." He went on to delight the gathering with several "vintage Sir Thomas tales" and announced that he would challenge again for "The Auld Mug" in 1914. After his remarks, Rear Commodore Wallace, of the NYAC, told of his visit with Sir Thomas in London last year, at which, Sir Thomas assured him of his support of the NYAC Block Island Race by donating a beautiful Cup for the 1913 races. The Sir Thomas J. Lipton Trophy was to be awarded to the new "Viking Class" of mariner who operated and navigated their own vessels without the assistance of paid professionals. This happy gathering closed with another rousing ovation for our good friend, and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne."
For many years, Sir Thomas was a frequent visitor to the New York Athletic Club and the Yacht House on Travers Island. He presented the Yachting Department with the flag flown by his SHAMROCK IV during his challenge for the America's Cup in 1920. When our new Club House was built on Central Park South in 1927, Sir Thomas J. Lipton, Honorary Member of the NYAC and renowned yachtsman, honored us by laying the cornerstone for our new home.
The Yacht House is Built
A few years earlier, during the summer of 1916, a new Yacht House was built atop Pomeroy's Hill on Travers Island, under the able guidance of Commodore Harry Anderson. It was officially opened for inspection by the members at the closing ceremonies on October 7th. The structure consisted of an 18x30 ft. lounging room, a ladies room, a members' locker room and a large porch. The plans were drawn by Architect George F. Pelham. It was described at the time "as an ample building, fashioned of stucco in the bungalow type. The situation is imposing, being on the summit of an island between the mainland and Glen Island, and the porch commands an extensive view of the surrounding waters and countryside. The interior of the house is tastefully furnished and the reception room is greatly augmented by a multi-color array of private and official signals encircling the walls."
In addition to our annual successes with the Block Island Race, the Club continued to add to its competitive achievements, both in power and sail. On July 4th, 1909, Commodore Henry Jackson, aboard his fast 39' sloop VICTORY, won the Brooklyn Yacht Club Ocean Challenge Cup, which was the "blue ribbon of the sea for small sailboat ocean racing" in that era. He won this most prestigious 285 mile ocean race, notwithstanding the fact that in the middle of the night, he stood by a disabled competitor until she was deemed seaworthy.
The New York Athletic Club continued to earn its reputation as a leading organization in power boat development and competition. The Club presented the beautifully ornate Handicap Cruiser Championship Cup to the American Power Boat Association in 1920 as a perpetual trophy for the Cruiser Championship of America. When Commodore Jackson retired from sailboat competition, he purchased the power cruiser VICTORY ll., and proceeded to win the Cruiser Championship of America in 1920; Commodore Thomas Farmer's TURTLETOO captured the prize in 1921; Commodore E. A. Jimenis' KEMAH ll. earned the trophy in 1927, and William C. Baldwin took the trophy in 1929. In 1925, 1926, and in 1927 the NYAC continued its dominance in power boat racing with the Cruiser Championship of New York, the Trunz, the Hunt, and the Craig Trophies as well as the Sheepshead Bay Ocean Handicap.
In 1926, we had the misfortune of having the shop and locker house destroyed by fire and it was decided to postpone rebuilding until a larger and more suitable location could be secured. The following year, a seawall with a boardwalk was erected between the Yacht house and the Rowing House. Fill from an extensive dredging operation of the anchorage was pumped in behind the wall thus reclaiming a large area of land which has since served so well as parking and winter storage space. A new fireproof locker house and shop were also constructed. This major improvement of both the summer mooring and the winter storage facilities made room for about seventy yachts and brought a larger number of Winged Foot yachts to home waters.
From 1918 through the early 1960's, the Club sponsored one of the largest sailing events on the Sound, the NYAC Annual Regatta, in which it was not unusual for well over 125 boats to participate in upwards of a dozen divisions, from Internationals to Lightning's. In the 1950 NYAC Annual Regatta, over 200 boats participated. This event, always held in late August, was one of the largest in the series of weekly "around the buoy" races that led to the Annual YRA Championship of Long Island Sound. For many years Commander Fred W. Horenburger, Chairman of the NYAC Race Committee, ran this major Regatta with the utmost professionalism.
During the summer of 1933, NYAC Fleet Captain, Dr. Leuman M. Waugh, cruised his 34' motor cruiser NANU to the sub-arctic northern Labrador coast on a scientific expedition for Columbia University. Dr. Waugh, an orthodontist, was studying the dental condition and attending to the dental needs of the region's Eskimos. He found that it was not unusual for an Eskimo to dig an aching molar out with a jackknife or hammer it out with a rock and a spike. He came across one hunter so crazed with pain that he shot a tooth out with a rifle, destroying part of his jaw, and tearing away a considerable portion of his cheek. When he demonstrated painless extraction using anesthesia, the natives were so overwhelmed, they tried to convince our good Fleet Captain to also pull their healthy teeth, for they were afraid he would never return. On his voyage, Dr. Waugh was the first caucasion to explore EKortiarsuk Fjord, and, of course he flew the NYAC burgee further North than it had ever been flown before.
On April 3rd, 1938 Commodore Leuman M. Waugh presided over the dedication of the huge oil painting which adorns the wall over the stone fireplace in the Yacht House. Commodore Waugh dedicated the beautiful painting "To the great New York Athletic Club, to the faithful and loyal members of the Yachting Department, and to the members who made our Club and our Department what they are today." He then introduced the artist whose landscape paintings are nationally famous, George W. Drew, who had exhibited his paintings at leading art galleries throughout the country, and whose works could be found in the collections of prominent collectors. A group of over 100 members attended the dedication.
On March 20th, 1941, the Yachting Department adopted a new constitution and by-laws that were submitted and approved by the Board of Governors. The new constitution was actually a modernization of the existing by-laws that had been in force since 1912. The primary purpose of enacting this new constitution was to conform with the currently accepted code among the other yacht clubs in the area.
World War ll caused a major upheaval in every facet of American life, and yachting was no different. In May of 1941, in anticipation of hostilities, the Yachting Department formed the NYAC Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 604, under the direction of Commander William K. Denton and Commodore Melvin A. Hayes. The primary purpose of this group was to assist the U. S. Coast Guard in both military preparedness as well as coastal patrol duty. All members of the Club participated by either taking part in active patrols or, in the case of the larger craft, donating their yachts to the Coast Guard for such duty. The Block Island Races were suspended from 1942 to 1945. In 1943, the United States Navy formally took over Travers Island for use as a training facility for the Norwegian Gunnery School and the Coast Guard. No pleasure craft operated from the Island during this period and the Yacht House was formally off limits to members. Since "around the buoy" sailboat races were condoned because they did not violate gasoline rationing restrictions, The Larchmont Yacht Club was gracious enough to lend its facilities to the NYAC Race Committee in order for our flag officers to continue running the NYAC Annual Regatta. During this period the Yachting Department moved into the "Lion's Den", a cozy cabin with a pot-bellied stove, a club room, and lockers across the creek at the Lion's Shipyard. In 1944, the Navy gave permission for members to launch their boats, but since gasoline was available only for the launch, the fleet never left the harbor. The Club launch serviced the fleet from a NYAC float at Lion's Shipyard. During 1945, the Yachting Department was able to secure temporary quarters on Travers Island, in the Trap Shooters Lodge, where the official opening ceremonies were performed. A full schedule of normal activities, including the return of both the Sail and Power Block Island Races, was not resumed until 1946.
On a sad note, on October 5th, 1943, Commodore Henry A. Jackson, the "guiding spirit" of the NYAC Yachting Department, passed away. He joined the NYAC in 1895 as an Athletic Member on the rowing team, and joined the Yachting Department in 1904. Yachting Committee founder and fellow rower, Robert W. Rathbourne took him under his wing and they soon became shipmates. Together they co-founded the NYAC Block Island Race in 1904. He served as Commodore from 1907 through 1911, and then as a mentor and trusted advisor to over thirty years of NYAC commodores. At the time of his death he was a member of the NYAC Yachting Department Executive Committee, a position he held for many years. He also served as an executive committee member of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound, the American Power Boat Association, and the United States Power Squadron. Commodore Jackson was considered one of the prominent yachtsmen in the country. He lectured on navigation for many years, and thousands of yachtsmen had him to thank for their knowledge of this science. Harry Jackson was a champion sailboat and power boat racer, and winner of numerous trophies; yet he was so principled, he would never compete in an event he was officiating. He left us a great tradition in the sport of yachting, not only in racing, but in the proper and safe operation of boats. His manner was described as militant and often scrappy in upholding the traditions of yachting and the Club's good name. Under Commodore Jackson's guidance the NYAC became a widely respected yachting organization. He left us the memory of his fine character, and the splendid code of sportsmanship for which he was known. In his will, Harry Jackson bequeathed the Club all of his trophies, medals and prizes and provided a beautiful display case for their exhibition. He also donated the sum of $5000 to the NYAC Yachting Department, "the income of which is to be used for a first prize annually in the Block Island Race. This trophy is to be known as the Victory Trophy. Should yacht racing cease to be conducted by the Club in any given year, the net income for that year shall be applied to the repair, construction, and betterment of the buildings, floats, grounds, and other parts of the Club used for the furtherance of the sport of yachting."
For many years Club member, Walter Miller, invited NYAC Yachtsmen and their families to his bucolic Nassau Point Ranch on Peconic Bay for a weekend get-together that was always one of the most memorable events of the season. Even during the war years, when members had to find alternate transportation to "Walter's Ranch", the party went on. It was an important way to keep the fiber of the Yachting Department together during those difficult years, and it was not unusual for over fifty members and their families to join the festivities. Just before the party broke up in 1945, one of them, on behalf of all, waxed poetic:
There's a hospitable spot down Peconic way,
That's called Walt Miller's Ranch, and it's right on the Bay.
It doesn't have horses, nor does it have cows,
Nor Indians with ceremonial pow-wows.
Unless you call his guests a tribe
When they whoop it up with time out to imbibe.
But so many nice things have been done by our host
That we think it's about time to propose a toast.
So here's to our Walter, so generous and so kind,
A better friend our Yachtsmen never will find.
We'll always be grateful for all he has done
To make us so happy, the old son of a gun.
Jackson Day Race
In 1946, Mrs. Statier Jackson, widow of our beloved Commodore, offered a trophy for a predicted log contest called the "Jackson Memorial Race", to be run from Huckleberry Island to Lloyd's Harbor and back. The trophy, a replica of the "Winged Victory" was always on board her husband's yachts. The "Winged Victory" is the mythological symbol for "victory", and the original was crafted in 1863 and sits in The Louvre. A clambake traditionally followed the event on the Yacht House grounds. This event lives on in the form of the Jackson Day Sail and Power Boat Races that are competed for annually by NYAC Members to this day.
NYAC Yacht Club
In July of 1957, the name of the NYAC Yachting Department was informally changed to the NYAC Yacht Club. The membership decided this new name more accurately reflected the extensive yachting facilities, operations, and activities that the New York Athletic Club offers on Travers Island. Also during the summer of 1957, the NYAC Block Island Sailboat Race was officially changed to the NYAC Distance Race to Stratford Shoal. The Race Committee decided this shortened "round-trip" course would enhance participation and simplify committee boat logistics. Colin Ratsey's GOLLIWOGG won the first Stratford Shoal Race with George Coumantaros' BACCARAT finishing in second place.
The Marina is Built
In 1958, after considerable planning and fund raising, the Yacht Club opened Marina A, with slips for 20 yachts up to 60' in overall length. Peter Lind Hayes' QUEEN MARY ll. was the first yacht in the marina. The following year, Marina B was completed with a similar number of slips. The overall strategic plan and fund raising was adroitly handled by Vice Commodore Valentine Taubner. The marina was designed by Ralph W. Atwater, an eminent consultant on subaqueous work. Under Atwater's direction a survey of the marina site was made, including soundings and drillings of the bottom to determine the amount of dredging necessary, the number and size of the pilings, and the depth to which they should be driven to provide maximum protection. After the plans were approved by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the marina was built under the direction of Club member Joseph Bonner whose vast energy, ingenuity, and many years of experience with the Bonner Construction Company was made available to the Club. Vice Commodore Taubner was instrumental in convincing the Board Of Governors that by allowing the Yacht Club to build the marina, overall NYAC membership would increase, the use of the Club's facilities on Travers Island as well as the City House would increase, and the value of Travers Island's physical plant would appreciate at no cost to the main Club. He also counseled the Board that it would be in the best interests of the Club to extend guest privileges to visiting yachtsmen from recognized yacht clubs in order to reciprocate for the many favors extended NYAC yachtsmen over the years, and also to increase revenues at the Travers Island dining room and bar. Needless to say, the marina was an immediate success and it continues to this day to fulfill all the promises of its builders.
As they have for so many years, NYAC yachtsmen continued to succeed on the race course. Unfortunately, because of space limitations, we can only list a few of the major achievements. In the 1954 Newport to Bermuda Race, George Coumantaros' BACCARAT finished fourth in his division and ninth overall among a fleet of 77 of the best sailors on the east coast. Dr. Allen B. DuMont, the celebrated television scientist and NYAC yachtsman finished second in cumulative points for the season in the Predicted-Log National Championship, aboard his 54' cruiser HURRICANE lll. In 1958 and 1959 he won the National Championship. Also in 1959, Dr. Walter Neuman's SITZMARK IV won Class B honors in the New York Yacht Club's Annapolis to Newport Race. He sailed the 468 nautical mile course in 90 hours. In 1960 Club member Elias A. Kalil won the National Championship in Predicted -Log Power Cruiser Racing with 7285 points, over 1000 more points than his closest competitor. In the 1960 Newport to Bermuda Race, five NYAC yachts flew the Winged Foot burgee: George Coumantaros' 51' yawl BACCARAT, who finished second in Class B; Dr. Walter Neuman in his 40' sloop Sitzmark IV, who took second place in Class D; Emil Capita in his 45' sloop Hi-Q ll.; S. G. Schementi in his 50' ketch GARMELITA; and Steven Hansen in his 48' yawl ANITRA.
Thanks to John Poth, a member of the Yacht Club Executive Committee, the traditional NYAC Yacht Book, not published since 1939, was again published in 1960. At the closing ceremonies in 1960, the Yacht Club dedicated a new 65' galvanized flag pole that was built with the bequest of George W. Parkhurst, Secretary, and Chairman of the Membership Committee for many years. A bronze memorial tablet was placed at the base of the pole commemorating Captain Parkhurst's generosity.
Yacht Club Improvements 1960's
The Yacht Club has always distinguished itself from other NYAC Intra Clubs by its members donating "their" own time and labor and capital in building the Yacht Club facilities. In 1962, under Commodore Paul Du Jardin, the Yacht House interior was remodeled with a new ceiling, exhaust fans and two picture windows. A partition was removed, increasing spatial area for meetings and parties. 1963 Entertainment and House Chairman Peter Furia oversaw the additional House refurbishment including a paneled bar. Under Commodore James B. Moore in 1964, a new launch was purchased and commissioned in his name. Grounds Chairman Ed Hicks planted shrubs and flowers with tulips arranged as a floral Winged Foot. Commodore Moore announced plans for the construction of Marina C to be ready for 1965 occupancy. At the 1964 flag lowering ceremonies, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis X. Mahoney was presented with a plaque commemorating his 15th year as Fleet Chaplain. In 1965, the Yacht House was completely repainted. It was Ed Hicks' intention to install a watering system for the lawn, shrubs, and flowers. His fulfillment of this plan was overseen by Peter Furia as a tribute to the late Ed Hicks. Captains Robert Bukofser, Vince Cronin, and Bill Schwarz donated the improvement to blacktop the area behind the sea wall for practical and aesthetic reasons.
Under Commodore Joseph Bonner's tenure, drilling began on April 15, 1966, for the Yacht Club's own well. This project, financed by the Yacht Club, enabled it to be completely independent of New Rochelle's water supply. Thereby, no possible water shortage could prevent the washing down of boats. The Yacht House's exterior and interior were freshly painted and windows were fitted with new curtains, made by members' wives. A guard rail and fence were installed along the seawall side of the Yacht Club's parking lot. Grounds Chairman Captain John Squillario and his sons planted trees and shrubs, enhancing the Yacht House ground's appearance. Captain Peter Lind Hayes, our radio celebrity club member, donated a public address system for use at ceremonies. In August, Charles Froatz was hired as Yacht Club Manager. Upon his retirement in 1986 after 19 years of service, his son Caleb became Yard Manager, having worked with his father for 12 years.
In 1969, under Commodore William J. Schwarz, Engineering Chairman Commodore Joe Bonner, and Vice Commodore Bob Bukofser, Charlie Froatz and his staff built a new gas dock and associated floats.
Several club members participated in the Sail and Power Boat Races - notably Dr. Walter Neumann and his Sitzmark, and Captain Elias Kalil in Irene K V., his cruiser. Dr. Neumann placed 1st in Class B in the NYAC Stratford Shoal Race, 2nd in Division B of the 1961 Larchmont Yacht Club Edlu Trophy, 3rd in Class C of the 1961 Marblehead-Halifax Race, and 1st in Class A, with elapsed and corrected times, in the 26th Annual City Island Yacht Club Stratford Shoal Race. The 52nd NYAC sponsored Stratford Shoal Race, Emil Capita, sailing his Hi-Q-II, won 1st place in his Division. He was awarded the 1961 Winged Foot Trophy for placing 1st as overall winner in this race. This 1961 record was crowned by George Coumantaros, sailing Baccarat into 2nd place in the classic Vineyard Race. The Jackson Day Predicted Log Race was dominated by Elias Kalil and Dr. Alan B. Dumont, the Yacht Club's two National Predicted Log Champions, with Captain Kalil capturing the coveted trophy.
In the 1960 Newport to Bermuda Race, Dr. Neumann finished 2nd in his Class. In the 1962 Race, Dr. Neumann finished 4th and George Coumantaros finished 2nd in their respective Classes.
In 1962, Dr. Neumann finished 2nd in the Stratford Shoal Race, and 1st in the Handicap Cruising Race, 1st in his Class A and placed 1st overall of the Bayside Yacht Club Invitation. In the Huntington Yacht Club's Stratford Shoal Race, he finished 2nd. In 1963 NYAC sponsored Stratford Shoal Race, Emil Capita won 1st place with corrected time in Hi-Q-II. Having won the 1961 race, Capita was the only person to win this race twice. Third and fourth places were won by George Coumantaros and Dr. Neumann respectfully. Commodore Moore's 16 year old daughter won her 1st Predicted Log Race in Star Brite, the smallest participating craft. In 1961 and 1962, Captain Kahil continued to retain his title as National Cruiser Champion. Competing in National Championships since 1934, he consistently earned high rankings including the 1960 and 1961 Martini and Rossi Eastern Championships.
Dr. Neumann sailed in the Transatlantic Yacht Race from Newport, Rhode Island to Plymouth, England - placing 3rd after 22 days at sea, 17 of which were foggy. He and his crew continued to Southampton for the Cowes Week Races in which 14 American boats and some 120 European boats participated. Sitzmark finished 1st on corrected time among the 14 American boats in the Channel Race and 2nd in the Brittanica Cup.
In 1964, he won 3rd place in corrected time in Class C in the 29th Block Island Race of the Storm Trysail Club in which 135 boats participated. He raced his Sitzmark in the 735-mile Bermuda-Halifax Race, winning by a margin of 3 hours, breaking the previous record of 20 hours. Baccarat and Sitzmark both took honors in the 1964 Bermuda Race.
In the 1965 Stratford Shoal Race, three Divisions were established for the first time. In Division I, Dr. Neumann placed 2nd, and Mr. George Hoffmann finished 3rd in his 47 foot Duster. That same year, Dr. Neumann had his Sitzmark transported on a steamer to Buenos Aires to participate in the 1200-mile Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro Race. In the 1965 Knickerbocker Race, he finished 2nd. Captain Kalil earned a 1st place for the Eastern Cruiser Association (E.C.A.) for the third successive year. He brought home again the Martini and Rossi Trophy. Second place honors in the E.C.A. and Martini and Rossi Championships went to Commodore Elias Safie of Laurelia 111. Captains Kalil and Safie were awarded the East Coast Team Trophy.
In the 1966 Newport to Bermuda Race, Sail Race Committee Chairman Hoffmann with his Duster, Captain Coumantaros with his Baccarat, and Dr. Neumann with his Sitzmark, won respectable places in their classes. In the Trans-Atlantic Bermuda to Denmark Race, Dr. Neumann placed 4th in his Division. Captain Hoffmann finished 2nd in Class A in the Annual Knickerbocker Y.C. Day Race and 3rd in Class A in the City Island-Stratford Shoal Race.
In early 1967, Dr. Neumann won 1st place in the 811 -Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica Race of 6 days. In the NYAC Distance Race, Baccarat, Duster, and Sitzmark participated with Dr. Neumann placing 2nd in Class A. In the Storm Trysail's Block Island Race, Captain Hoffmann sailed his Duster to 1st place in Class B, to 3rd place in the City Island Stratford Shoal Race, and took two 3rd prized in the New York Yacht Club Annual Cruise, held in Cape Cod waters. In the Stamford-Vineyard Race, Captain Coumantaros' Baccarat won 1st overall in fleet and in Class A. These three sailors entered the Larchmont Edlu Trophy Race. In Division I, Captain Coumantaros finished 4th and in Division II, Dr. Neumann finished 2nd.
In the Corinthian Spring Race, Dr. Neumann placed 1st in both elapsed and corrected times, and took 2nd place in the Class A Division of the Corinthian Fall Race. Sitzmark took Class A and overall in the Stuyvesant Yacht Club Fall Race, and 2nd place in the Stuyvesant Yacht Club Fall Race Class A. Division.
1968 was the Centennial for the NYAC. In the Newport to Bermuda Race, Baccarat, Duster, and Sitzmark entered with Baccarat taking 3rd in Class C. In 1968 and 1969, Virginia Moore, sailing Gin Jimme V, won the Block Island Predicted Log Race Trophy. Dr. Neumann also brought home two trophies in the Storm Trysail's Sandy Hook-to-Chesapeake Bay Race for 1st on corrected time and 1st in his Class.
In 1969, in the 8th Annual Knickerbocker Yacht Club Race, Dr. Neumann took 2nd in Division A and 3rd place overall. As a fitting close to Dr. Neumann's 1960s decade of admirable sailing, he took 1st place in the Bayside Yacht Club Annual Regatta.
In 1963, Vice Commodore Sturge Chadwick and Captain Ralph Hertz suggested that the Yacht Club sponsor a "Dinghy" racing program for junior members, 10 to18 years old, to compete with junior skippers of neighboring clubs. A sailing program was initiated with classes for beginners and advanced sailors. The program was part of the Junior Racing Association. According to Y.R.A. standards, students were to progress through the various levels of proficiency and terminate as skippers. At the start of this program six Tech-dingies were used with classroom instruction. Six Blue Jays, the racing boat used by Long Island Sound Clubs, were acquired the following year. Captain Jack Cutter ran an excellent Junior Sailing Program in 1964. In the 1961 and 1962 Jackson Day Contest, a Junior Division was included.
The Officers and Executive Committee acknowledge with great appreciation the work and literary talent of Commodore Thomas F. Delaney (NYAC Yacht Club History 1892-1960) and Lily Solmssen Moureaux (NYAC Yacht Club History 1961-1969), may they continue in this endeavor to its completion and with our gratitude.