Chandler HoveyChandler Hovey was a competitor and Corinthian yachtsman in the truest sense. He not only was involved in several defenses of the America's Cup spanning a period of 34 years he possessed unequaled enthusiasm as an ambassador for the sport of sailing.
His first involvement in the America's Cup was in 1934 as manager and afterguard member of the Yankee syndicate. However, Enterprise, under the guidance of Harold Vanderbilt, emerged that year with the honor of defending the Cup. In the years that followed the Cup races, Hoevy and boat, Weetamoe, joined other J-class sailboats in fierce racing.
In 1934, he returned to the Cup scene as manager, afterguard member and majority owner of Yankee. At the start of the season, Yankee, with her modified construction, finished much better than her rival Rainbow, and looked as though she would be selected to defend against Sir Thomas Sopwith's Endeavour. When it came time for the selection, however, the records of the two boats were so close that the committee rested its decision upon the outcome of a single race. Rainbow beat Yankee for the honor of defending the Cup by just one second. In fact, the race committee was consulted by the sailors because neither crew knew which boat had won. It was a devasting loss for everyone aboard Yankee, but especially for Hovey.
Still, he bought Rainbow for the 1937 challenge and fitted her with Weetamoe's rig. But Harold Vanderbilt had kept Rainbow's mast for the new Ranger, and went on to produce one the most impressive Cup campaigns ever.
When the post-War challenge from Britain's Royal Yacht Squadron revived the America's Cup in 1958, the contest was to be sailed in 12-meter class sailboats. With no new boat in the works to defend, the New York Yacht Club called on Chandler Hovey. The committee explained the situation, asking if he might consider building a boat for the defense. Having never lost his enthusiasm for the Cup, he accepted immediately, and commissioned Easterner. Eventually, Columbia and Weatherly joined the defense trials, and Columbia went on to win the match against Sceptre.
Ultimately, Hovey's Easterner sailed in the Cup trials three times: 1958, 1962 and 1964. None of the ventures proved successful with respect to defending the Cup, but to Hovey and the members of his crew, Easterner was a tremendous success. Hovey refused to compromise the Corinthian effort for sake of winning. His family and friends made up the crew, learning and enjoying beyond words the experience of participating in the America's Cup trials.
He wanted desperately to win but on his terms and that is something for which he will always be admired.
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