The Stevens Family

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Racing Yachts

The Stevens family had a strong influence on the development of American yachting. On July 30, 1844, John Cox Stevens hosted the organizational meeting of the New York Yacht Club on his yacht Gimcrack. He would serve as First Commodore of the club until 1854. Despite the name, the club met in Hoboken. A clubhouse was built on Stevens family land just north of Castle Point.

The NYYC's ship America would soon sail to worldwide fame and become the namesake of the America's Cup. In 1851 the America sailed to England to compete in a 60 mile race around the Isle of Wight, held on August 22. John Cox and Edwin Augustus were on board as the America dominated the race, beating the closest British competitor by 18 minutes. The victory was a clear sign that American shipbuilding and sailing were to be taken seriously.

The trophy for the race, an elegant silver cup, was returned to the clubhouse in Hoboken. The New York Yacht Club decided to offer the cup as a trophy in a recurring yacht race between top worldwide competitors, and the America's Cup was born. Yet the skill of the New York Yacht Club was so advanced that it took many challenges before a rival was able to take home the cup. Today, the clubhouse is no longer in Hoboken, but a historic marker commemorates its place in maritime history.

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Sources

History, Stevens Institute of Technology. http://www.stevens.edu/sit/about/history.cfm

Jim Hans, 100 Hoboken Firsts. 26-27, 33.

Mary Stevens Baird Recollections, Stevens Family Collection. VII.

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