|“You can do business with anyone, but you can only sail with a gentleman.”
J.P. MorganA Look at the Life of J.P. Morgan in celebration of the Baldwin Cup 2016 presenting sponsor JPMorgan Chase
With JPMorgan Chase serving as the presenting sponsor for The Baldwin Cup for the third year in a row, it seems only fitting that we talk about the important role that John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan played in the history of yachting.
Morgan had many passions beyond the world of finance—he was a devoted sailor and participated in a number of America’s Cup yacht races. In fact, J.P. Morgan has a long history with sailing, dating back to the first America’s Cup.
Perhaps, his greatest accomplishment was his shaping of the respected New York Yacht Club, one of our competing teams at this year’s Baldwin Cup. In fact, Morgan served as commodore of the yacht club from 1897–99, though we are unsure if he inspired the traditional garb of shorts and colorful blazers that the New York Yacht Club has sported at our event during the past few years.
According to the NYYC website, “When called upon in financial panics, he saved entire nations from ruin (a biographer has likened him to a one-man Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), revived churches, helped found national museums, built the New York Yacht Club, paid for several America’s Cup defenders, terrified tycoons, challenged presidents, unified railroads, created the first billion-dollar company and molded out of the debris of the Civil War a new American aristocracy founded on English traditions of religion, men’s clubs, boarding schools and contradictory but heartfelt male personal demeanor.”
He arrived in New York in 1864 and began making waves in the financial community and almost everything he touched. His ability to wrangle conflicting points of view into a shared goal was invaluable skill as Commodore, and likely would have made him an excellent Team Racer.
In 1882, Morgan placed an order to buy a 185 black-hulled steam yacht called Corsair and because he valued his privacy, he found solace by spending time on his yachts. At the end of the decade, he built a new 241′ vessel to the design of J. Beavor-Webb. He established the Annual Cruise to Maine tradition on this Corsair II when he led the fleet north in 1897.
On the eve of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the government requested Corsair II be handed over for its naval battles against the war with Spain. Not wanting to lose his beloved hiding place, Morgan immediately ordered a new 304′ Corsair. His other famous quote “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it,” that we sailors know all too well, comes to mind with that amazing order.
Morgan’s summer routine including weekends with family on his estate on the Hudson River, and on Sunday nights he would steam back to Manhattan on Corsair.
He is considered the “godfather” of the modern New York Yacht Club and an icon in the traditional yachting heritage of his time. He became a member of the NYYC in 1882 and 15 years later, was elected commodore—having never serving the club in any other capacity. One of his most important accomplishments was to purchase the land on which today’s club presently is located.
Again from the New York Yacht Club website: “In Morgan fashion, he made two stipulations: It must be a big building whose design was selected by a committee of one, himself, and its increased cost of management must be covered by doubling the annual dues from $25 to $50. The Warren & Wetmore-designed building on West 44th Street was opened in 1901.
To this day, Morgan’s official commodore’s portrait greets members and guests near the Model Room that houses large models of the Corsair II, as yacht and war ship, and of the models of the great Cup defenders he sponsored.
JPMorgan Chase has continued its love affair with sailing with its sponsorship of countless respected regattas throughout the United States including modern day America’s Cups serving as the lead sponsor of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), who competed in the 2012/13 America’s Cup World Series.
In early April, 12 respected teams, including The New York Yacht Club, will arrive en masse to do their absolute best in the Corinthian spirit of racing and establish new traditions at which Commodore J.P. Morgan would, no doubt, have a big hearty chuckle.