General Charles J. PaineGeneral Charles Paine, who led three successful America's Cup defense efforts for New York Yacht Club, once had a quarter of an inch planed from a boat's deck to lighten the vessel by several hundred pounds. It was acts such as these that gained him the reputation for his devoted attention to small details in his quest for speed.
Smoothing hulls and installing rigging safety devices even inventing a special batten to prevent the leach of the mainsail from becoming too flat were all part of his repertoire for making a sailboat as fast as possible. Sailboat designer Edward Burgess, who named one of his sons after Paine, claimed that a number of changes in his own America's Cup-winning designs came from Paine's suggestions.
His intuitive feel for boosting performance was rivaled only by his uncommon management ability. In 1885, General Paine, a member of NYYC, managed what became known as the first modern America's Cup defense syndicate. With J. Malcolm Forbes paying most of the bills, and Edward Burgess as the designer, the syndicate produced Puritan, and created a template for America's Cup campaign management that remains the standard today.
Puritan, with topsides rubbed down to glassy smoothness at Paine's request, defeated Great Britain's Genesta to become first the Boston-bred Cup defender. Paine "thought out the effect of every line and every detail of construction and rig, and directed all so as to secure him the possession of the fastest yacht in the world. I have simply been his executive officer," Burgess said later.
Paine's partnership with Burgess ultimately produced three America's Cup defenders in as many years. In deference to Massachusetts history, he christened the second boat Mayflower, which defeated Britain's Galatea in 1886. Paine's family included a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the author of the song "Adams and Liberty."
The third boat bore the name Volunteer, in remembrance of Paine's service in the Civil War. Volunteer was a superior yacht in every way, defending against Britain's Thistle. After the race, the city of Boston honored Paine and Burgess with a testimonial celebration at Faneuil Hall.
Paine's interest in boats began at a young age, and in 1852, while enrolled at Harvard University, his rowing team beat Yale in what is thought to be the first intercollegiate athletic event ever held in the United States.
Ten years later, he volunteered for service in the Civil War, and received a commission as a captain in the Massachusetts Infantry. He rose rapidly through the ranks, serving as colonel on the staff of General Benjamin F. Butler (later an owner of the schooner America,) and played a key role in the capture of Port Hudson.
As a brigadier general, he commanded a black volunteer division that boasted 14 medals of honor in the 1864 Richmond campaign. Major General Paine returned to Boston a hero, after distinguishing himself at the capture of Fort Fisher.
In 1867, he married Julia Bryant, a cousin of George L. Schuyler, a member of the original America syndicate and author of the America's Cup Deed of Gift. This cemented Paine's ties to the America's Cup.
The expensive and complicated racing machines of Paine's day demanded top-notch management if they were to succeed in the realm of the America's Cup. The efforts and unique abilities of exceptional men such as General Paine made the difference against relentless challengers, enabling NYYC to establish the longest winning streak in sport.
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