Arthur Knapp, Jr.
“Consistency is one of the greatest single factors in racing your boat right.”
January 5, 1907 - June 16, 1992
2019 Lifetime Achievement Award
Birthplace: Bayside, Queens, New York
The King of Sailing
Arthur Knapp is one of only three sailors to win the America’s Cup in both the J Boat and 12 Meter eras. He was a top sailor as a youngster on Long Island Sound. His father gave him a 12-foot sneakbox type Butterfly Class in 1916. He playfully named the boat, Flutterby. Two years later he won the class championship. Along with his crew of George Hinman and Sterling Kryder, Knapp won the second Sears Cup in 1922. While a student at Princeton University, Knapp started a sailing club and organized a regatta between Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. Princeton, led by Knapp, won the contest. In 1930 he was aboard Dorade with Olin and Rod Stephens when they won the Transatlantic Race. It was a remarkable victory for the young American crew and earned them a ticker-tape parade down Broadway in New York City. He also won the Star Class World Championship that year as a skipper. (He had previously won the Star Worlds as a crew in 1924).
Soon after graduating from college, Arthur Knapp became a stockbroker and eventually held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He raced as an amateur sailor his entire career. In 1932, Knapp and of a group of sailors from Long Island Sound, formed the Frostbite Yacht Club and raced on weekends throughout the winter months. New York Times regularly covered the races. In the 1960s Sports Illustrated published a feature article about their frostbite sailing. All the top sailors from the area raced in the winter series to keep their skills sharp for the next summer season. Knapp won 14 times between 1946 and 1966.
In 1937 Harold S. Vanderbilt invited Knapp, along with Olin and Rod Stephens, to serve as crew aboard the J Boat, Ranger for the America’s Cup. Knapp’s position was to oversee the sail trimming on the 135 foot long J. Vanderbilt said, “Knappy never had an idle moment during a race.” The 33 man crew dominated the entire summer and defeated the British challenger, Endeavour II four straight races to successfully defend the Cup.
In 1958 he was named skipper of the new 12 Meter, Weatherly. The boat lost in the New York Yacht Club’s defense trials to Columbia. Over the next several years he raced International One Designs and won the championship four times. He put his accumulated knowledge on paper in 1952 and published a best selling sailing book, Race Your Boat Right. The forward was written by IBM’s Thomas J, Watson, Jr. with an introduction by Harold S. Vanderbilt. The book is an easy to read, practical guide for racing sailors. He raced in the Congressional Cup match regatta seven times. Arthur Knapp, Jr. was a mentor to many young sailors. In 1974 he wrote an inscription in my well-used copy of Race Your Boat Right that said: To Gary Jobson - The fine coach at the Merchant Marine Academy. I hope your new book does better than this - then you’ll be truly FIRST TO FINISH, Gary!! signed Arthur Knapp.
— Gary Jobson
Image from the Edwin Levick Collection at the Mariners Museum