May’s sustained deluges couldn’t deter true mariners who came out on Wednesday evening, May 16th, to hear New York Yacht Club Historian and author John Rousmaniere speak. Rousmaniere, the author of more than 30 books about sailing in all its facets – including seamanship, storms, boat safety, the America’s Cup, and stories of America’s clubs – gave a spirited talk about “The Golden Pastime” that thrilled a seasoned audience of captains and deckhands. Starting with the history of New York Yacht Club’s founding in Hoboken, and explaining how competition informed boat design, Rousmaniere illustrated how classic yachts, though owned and steered by one class of individuals, were physically powered by another set of able, ingenious crew. By focusing the crowd’s eyes on who was where on these vessels, at the wheel or up on the mast or trimming sails, Rousmaniere provided a fascinating study in anthropology and underscored the valuable contribution of immigrants to the sport of yacht racing.
Everyone loved the archival images, many selected from Mystic Seaport’s outstanding collection of Rosenfeld photos. The presentation deftly conveyed the excitement as well as the danger that came out of continually putting yacht construction to the test of human ambition in open water. Only an accomplished seaman and writer like Rousmaniere could synthesize over a century of advances and translate them into such a robust and mesmerizing narrative!
Photos by Cutty McGill