America's Cup: Hall of Famer dies in San Diego at 95

Jack Sutphen sits in his Zimmerman Launch during the wooden boat festival at the Koehler Kraft yard on Shelter Island.

America's Cup Hall of Fame member, Jack Sutphen, passed away peacefully at his home in San Diego on March 24, at the age of 95 years.

Born in New York, Jack served in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII as skipper of Air Sea Rescue boats.

Jack Sutphen, 2005 inductee, at the Rolex America's Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, CA
Scott Kozinchik/Rolex.
He began his sailing at nine as a junior at the Larchmont Yacht Club. Eventually, he would spend 35 cold winters racing dinghies in the Frostbite series on Long Island Sound with his wife, Jean, as his crew. While a sailmaker with Ratsey & Lapthorn, Jack began his America's Cup career in 1958 with the Weatherly campaign.

Best known as a key part of the trial horse crew for Dennis Conner's America's Cup campaigns, Sutphen's relationship with Conner had its genesis in 1974, when he was replaced by Conner as tactician aboard the 12 metre Courageous.

Admitted to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2005 the citation says Sutphen was with the Weatherly campaign that year (1958). In 1974, Sutphen was with the Courageous Campaign as was Dennis Conner. Sutphen had made a name for himself racing against East Coast legends Cornelius Shields and Arthur Knapp out of Larchmont Y.C. When Conner brought together his own Freedom Syndicate for the 1980 Cup, he needed someone to skipper his trial horse in a two year campaign and felt Sutphen had great credentials.

Rosetta Payne, Sarah Payne, Fritz Jewett, Wendy Payne and Jack Sutphen at the Rolex America's Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, St. Francis Yacht Club, Oct. 14 in San Francisco, CA.
Scott Kozinchik/Rolex.
Thus began a pattern of many successive campaigns including the great Freedom triumph of 1980, the U.S. defeat in 1983, and the monumental comeback in 1986-87 in Australia. It was out of Hawaii and Fremantle that year that Sutphen sailed daily with the backup crew on the trial horse to Stars & Stripes as Conner worked toward regaining the Cup.

Sutphen's crew was labeled 'The Mushrooms,' because it was kept in the dark, fed manure, and could be pulled out and 'canned' at any moment.

'There was a great spirit on that boat,' Sutphen recalled. 'I think we made Dennis and Stars & Stripes better.' This support continued through several subsequent campaigns. He has been with nine America's Cup campaigns from 1958 through 2000, seven with Team Dennis Conner.


A very unassuming sailor which sometimes disguised a great sailing intellect, Jack will be remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing him for his generosity and the goodness of his heart.

For two articles by noted San Diego sailing correspondent, Bill Center on Jack Sutphen http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/apr/06/sailing-legend-jack-sutphen-dies-at-95/!click_here and http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2009/mar/16/1s16boatcol203024-sutphens-contribution-sailing-wo/!here_for_an_earlier_piece_written _in_2009


One of the nicest guys in sailing, and America’s Cup veteran, Jack Sutphen (then aged 91), at the 33rd America’s Cup - BMW Oracle Racing, with skipper Jimmy Spithill (left).

Jack Sutphen sailing an San Diego