Eight Bells: Samuel Wakeman

Published on August 6th, 2022

It is with heavy heart that the New York Yacht Club, her Flag Officers, Race Committee, and membership alike, observe the passing on August 5 of an exemplary leader, a world-class competitor, and a dear friend.

Samuel Wakeman was a man of greatness and a man to whom greatness gravitated. He touched many lives as former Commodore of Cohassett YC (MA), as Chairman of the New York Yacht Club Race Committee, and through the many civic volunteer roles he took on in his hometown of Cohassett.

A sailor’s sailor, Sam was the son of Frances McElwain Wakeman, in her own right a winner of four consecutive Adams Cups and a member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Building on the family tradition of excellence on the race course, Sam was integral to four efforts to defend The America’s Cup while it was held by the Club – Easterner in 1964, Intrepid (’67), Valiant (’70) and Courageous in 1974. Intrepid and Courageous were selected and ultimately went on to successful defenses with Sam aboard.

While contributing to the maintenance of the greatest winning streak in the history of sport is enough to ensure gold-plated status as an elder of the Club, the gravity of a man’s legacy can best be measured by those who come after him and further the values and ethos he shared.

It is in his role as Race Committee Chairman that Sam’s extensive experience codified the standard of excellence that the Club’s members and guests from around the world have come to expect on the water at an event held under our colors. His fingerprints are all over everything we do and how we do it, and many of us owe Sam greatly for the influence and advice he selflessly shared.

We will pay him back by passing the knowledge along to the next group, and they will do the same. Bravo Zulu, Sam. You are already sorely missed. – Dr. Paul Zabetakis; Commodore, New York Yacht Club

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