On July 30, 1844 aboard the yacht GIMCRACK in New York Harbor, John Cox Stevens was named Commodore of the new yacht club that had been formed moments earlier, the New York Yacht Club. Enough gentlemen were interested in yachting around New York to sustain such a club, and it soon went on to become world famous.
The man who called them together and provided the ground upon which the first clubhouse stood was certainly a fitting Commodore. Stevens set a standard for greatness still followed in the selection of club leaders. He was a member of an old colonial family that included a member of the Continental Congress and was a pioneer in steam engine development.
John Cox Stevens was a leading citizen of New York in business, society and the arts as well as a great sportsman. After graduating from Columbia University in 1803, he became interested in the development of steam propelled vessels. Skilled in business, he owned the first steam ferry in the world crossing the Hudson to Hoboken in 1811. His passion for all sorts of steam vessels continued in the boats built at the Stevens yard in Hoboken, New Jersey.
He commissioned the schooner-yacht AMERICA in 1851 to show off the supremacy of American shipbuilding and design. She later lent her name to the most distinguished international competition in history. To finance the project, Stevens initiated the now common idea of a syndicate. Today his hometown of Hoboken is the site of the Stevens Institute of Technology where many 12-metre Cup yachts were tank-tested for speed superiority.
The name of John Cox Stevens is inextricably linked with the Americas Cup and, in fact, all organized racing. His values live on in those chosen to follow him as Commodores of the New York Yacht Club.