FOUR DECADES AFTER earning the nicknames “The Mouth of the South” and “Captain Outrageous” in the process of defending the America’s Cup, Ted Turner was feted in a more traditional style when he received the New York Yacht Club Medal. It’s the highest individual honor the club can bestow.
The ceremony Tuesday night at the 44th Street Clubhouse celebrated the 40th anniversary of Turner skippering COURAGEOUS to a 4-0 victory against AUSTRALIA off Newport, R.I. in 1977. That win is the subject of a documentary that will air next week on NBC.
While his extensive sailing resume played a significant role in his receiving the medal—which has been awarded only 17 times previously—it's just one facet of one of the most interesting and successful Americans of modern times. Turner revolutionized television news when he founded the Cable News Network in 1980 and won a World Series as the owner of the Atlanta Braves. He was also the creator of the Goodwill Games, a member of the Television Hall of Fame and a former Time magazine Man of the Year (1991).
"Since 1985, the NYYC Medal has been awarded from time to time at the sole discretion of the Flag Officers in recognition of achievements of particular merit or outstanding contribution to the club or yachting in general," Commodore Philip A. Lotz said. "Last night, it was my honor and extreme pleasure to present the NYYC Medal to Ted Turner."
While the high point of Turner's sailing career was his win over Alan Bond's AUSTRALIA in the 1977 America's Cup, he had success before and after, including wins in the Flying Dutchman World Championships, Congressional Cup, 5.5 Metre Gold Cup, SORC and the storm-ravaged 1979 Fastnet Race. He was a four-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
"In the 1970s, Ted Turner took his one-design racing skills to ocean racing and dramatically changed the sport," said Gary Jobson, who served as Turner's tactician during the 1977 America's Cup. "During his remarkable sailing career, Turner served on many committees to advance the sport and he has been a generous donor to many sailing causes. The New York Yacht Club Medal recognizes Ted Turner's lifetime achievement and service to sailing."
The documentary on COURAGEOUS and the 1977 America's Cup will air on NBC on Saturday, June 17 at 2:30 p.m. EDT. That’s also the opening day of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. Photos courtesy of NYYC and the Jobson Archive.
Ted Turner at the wheel with his COURAGEOUS crew and some of the support team. They won the America's Cup 4-0 against Alan Bond's AUSTRALIA off Newport, RI in 1977.