New York Yacht Club

The mission of the New York Yacht Club is to attract and bring together a dedicated group of yachting and naval members to share and foster their interest in yachting and yacht racing; to sustain a leadership role in yachting, its history, its development, the preservation of its traditions, and the furtherance of good seamanship; to promote the highest form of Corinthian sportsmanship in national and international yachting forums and yacht racing competitions.

Stories from New York Yacht Club

On July 30, 1844, John Cox Stevens (1785-1857) and eight of his friends met aboard Stevens’ yacht Gimcrack, anchored off the Battery in New York Harbor. That afternoon, they established the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and made three critical decisions that day: first, they elected Stevens as Commodore of the Club; second, they agreed to develop rules and regulations to govern the Club; and, third, they resolved to cruise to Newport, Rhode Island, initiating the enduring connection between the Club and New England. The Club’s young fleet of eight schooner yachts set sail from New York Harbor for Newport three days later, marking the Club’s first Annual Cruise. During the passage, they made stops at various ports on Long Island Sound and even held informal speed trials. Upon reaching Newport, the members met up with yachtsmen from Boston to socialize and engage in racing activities. On August 8, the Club hosted a fleet race around Conanicut Island, a popular racecourse today. The year that followed was a busy one for the Club. It adopted its Rules and Regulations, opened its first clubhouse and held its first Annual Regatta.

The New York Yacht Club held its first Annual Regatta–a fleet race for a prize cup–on July 17, 1845. Nine yachts started opposite the new clubhouse at 9 a.m. on the Hudson River. They sailed to a turning mark near Sandy Hook in the Lower Bay and returned—a 38-mile course. The yacht Cygnet won, earning fame as the first winner of North America’s longest-running sailing regatta. Today, the New York Yacht Club has its signature clubhouse, a National Historic Landmark, on West 44th Street in New York, and a waterfront clubhouse, Harbour Court, in Newport. The Club’s first clubhouse survives. It was installed on the grounds of Harbour Court in 1999, where it serves as a reminder of the Club’s origins.

The Club continues to run its Annual Regatta, presented by Rolex. The Club also hosts the biennial Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, for international Corinthian sailors representing their yacht clubs and nations and the parallel event for U.S. yacht clubs, the Resolute Cup. The Club also hosts and participates in other national, North American and world championships.

rom 1884 to 1900, the clubhouse was a townhouse at 67 Madison Avenue. By 1898, it was chockablock with “models, members, and memorabilia,” according to the New York Daily Tribune. It was then that Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan stunned fellow members by announcing he would donate three lots on West 44th Street to build a new clubhouse. The building, brilliantly designed with nautical motifs by Whitney Warren, opened in 1901. It is famous for its Model Room and Library. The New York Times wrote of the clubhouse in 1906, “Except for the absence of motion, one might fancy oneself at sea.”

In 1987, the New York Yacht Club acquired Harbour Court, the former summer home of Commodore John Nicholas Brown, in Newport, creating a new energy and focus. The waterfront clubhouse opened in 1988 with 1,500 members and guests in attendance. In 2019, Harbour Court hosted the Club’s Dosquicentennial Celebration for members and friends to celebrate the Club’s 175 years of history.

The New York Yacht Club has hosted Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex since 1998 and many other regattas in recent years including world championships for the Etchells, J/70, Farr 40 and Melges 20 classes, the J Class Worlds, the Global Team Race Regatta, the Transatlantic Race, and the IC37 National Championships to name a few.

The Club is also highly active in team and match racing. In 2006, the Club purchased 14 Sonars in dedication of these activities. In 2014, the fleet was increased to 22 Sonars, and today, team racing at the New York Yacht Club offers some of the most intense competition in the country.

Since 2009 the New York Yacht Club has conducted the biennial Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup. After a successful decade of racing in the Swan 42, the eighth one-design class created by the New York Yacht Club since 1900, the Invitational Cup transitioned to using the Club’s fleet of 20 IC37 race boats in 2019. These purpose-built machines, combined with one-design sails from North Sails, identical gear and standardized rig tune, create a level platform for amateur big-boat racing. Yacht club teams worldwide and Corinthian (amateur) sailors flock to Newport to race in this competition. During the first Invitational Cup in 2009, 19 yacht club teams from 14 countries and four continents competed, and the New York Yacht Club emerged as the winner. Since 2009, more than 1,000 sailors, comprised of teams from more than 40 yacht clubs representing 21 countries and all six continents, have competed in at least one edition of the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup.