Yacht ensign was created by John Cox Stevens, the first commodore of the NYYC, to distinguish yachts from commercial vessels.
The New York Yacht Club has been an organization of remarkable achievement for all its 150 years. Auspiciously, it was founded on a yacht, and equally auspiciously, some might say, it was born with a certain autocratic air.
Our founder scarcely could have been surprised when the friends he had invited to his yacht anchored off the Battery on that July day in 1844 voted him the first Commodore or approved the only business he put before that founding meeting - that the new clubs first cruise begin three days later.
It was a regional, even a national, club from its beginning. Its first clubhouse was not in New York but in New Jersey. And barely four years after its founding, its prominence was such that the United States government asked it to design a flag that would fly only on pleasure vessels. That flag, unchanged from the original New York Yacht Club design, has been the U. S. Yacht ensign ever since.
And a scarce seven years after its founding, the club's burgee flew over the yacht America as it established in that famous race off Cowes the superiority of America's yacht designers and builders. The Club's first century and a half, is a dramatic story of winners and losers, gallant gentlemen and an occasional spoilsport, great yachts and real adventurers united by their relentless quest for speed under sail. Its proud history is, indeed, one for the book.
Walter Cronkite has been a member of the New York Yacht Club since 1963.