America’s Cup: Not the first apple to fall from the tree

Published on January 9th, 2014

The lack of Americans on the American America’s Cup team this past summer struck a lot of Americans as, well, un-American. If not for the dogged determination of American Rome Kirby, there could have easily been none.

Given Rome’s family affiliation – his dad Jerry is a veteran of six America’s Cup campaigns – and his home of Newport, RI still revering the event, Rome has gotten a lot of attention. Deserved attention.

But when a recent NY Times article noted how it was believed the Kirbys are the first father and son to win the America’s Cup in its 162-year history”, the esteemed yachting historian John Rousmaniere sought to clear the air.

“As able as they are, the Kirbys are not the first father and son to win the America’s Cup. There have been at least two previous pairs.

“Edward Burgess was both the designer and a member of the afterguard (“brain trust”) of the winners of the Cup in 1885, ’86, and ’87. His son Starling Burgess, likewise, crewed in and designed the winners in 1930 and 1934 (ans also designed the 1937 winner).

“General Charles Paine owned and sailed in the 1886 winner. One of his sons, John, sailed in the 1887 winner, and another, Frank, sailed in the 1934 winner.

“There also are a few father-son syndicate relationships, which, arguably, should count because, under the Cup’s deed of gift, the official winner of the Cup is the yacht club, not the crew.

“My source is Appendix XII of volume II John Parkinson’s history of the New York Yacht Club (1975).”

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