Iselin, Charles Oliver (1854–1932) USA

Category: OWNERS

COIselinVCharles Oliver Iselin (June 8, 1854 – January 1, 1932) was a New York businessman and member of the firm of "A. Iselin & Co." Wall Street bankers, as well as a noted sportsman. He was born on June 8, 1854 to Adrian Georg Iselin and Eleanora O Donnell. His great great-grandfather Isaac Iselin came to America in 1801 from Basel, Switzerland, where the Iselin’s had been merchants, public officials, and military and professional men since the 14th century.

Isaac amassed a large fortune in the importing business, and his descendants became private bankers and philanthropists in New York City.

Charles was considered to be one of the greatest American Yachtsmen of his time, participating in and winning six consecutive America’s Cup races: card00818 fr1887, 1893, 1895, 1899, 1901 and 1903. He built a large breakwater next to his New Rochelle estate so that he could dock his yachts, 'Reliance’’ and ''Columbia safely at home. His wife Hope was the first woman ever to serve as part of the crew on an America's Cup yacht.

C. Oliver Iselin learned his racing in a hard school; while still a student at Columbia in 1873 he bought the sandbagger Mary Emma, 23 feet over all, racing her until he replaced her by the 27-foot Dare Devil in 1877. “Sandbaggers” were over rigged boats on which capsize was always imminent. There was no sentiment in the game of sandbag racing, the first thing was to win, the second to get the prize after you had won it. He raced cat boats in Long Island Sound and gained a reputation as a skilled racing skipper early on as a teenager. He was elected to the New York Yacht Club in 1877.

316px-Sloop_Titania-1Sailing aboard many notable yachts, Mr. Iselin built the 70-foot TITANIA and race her in 1887. He found himself a crew member aboard Volunteer in 1887. This experience no doubt led Iselin to successfully manage the Cup yachts built by Herreshoff. He headed up the Vigilant syndicate in 1893, the same year the Earl of Dunraven was elected to the New York Yacht Club as an honorary member.

Aboard Defender in the 1895 America’s Cup challenge, Iselin was at the center of the "Earl of Dunraven" controversy. As his honor and that of his nation were in question, Iselin put his fate in the hands of a New York Yacht Club committee which vindicated him and exalted Dunraven. Being the great sportsman and yachtsman that Iselin was, he offered to re-sail the entire match.

Web Mrs. IsleinIn 1899, Iselin managed the syndicate that built the Herreshoff yacht Columbia at a staggering cost of $250,000. Coming out of retirement to manage the Reliance in 1903, Iselin oversaw a perfect defense that year. As manager of these Cup Defender syndicates, he showed the embodiment of America's Cup spirit. He understood the great yachts, commanded with authority, and defended the America's Cup with honor and dignity.

His second wife, Miss Hope Goddard, of Providence, R. I., is an enthusiastic yachtswoman, and her counsel and presence during a race are potent factors in his achievements. She is a charming woman of the demure, puritanical type, affects white gowns and natty sailor suits, and is hospitable and popular as she is attractive. At “All View,” their home at Larchmont, they entertain charmingly.
Winters they travel abroad, spending much of their time along the shores and on the Mediterranean. Mr. Iselin is a member of the Cannes Yacht Club and a life member of the New York Yacht Club.

On January 1st, 1932, Charles Oliver Iselin succumbs at 78 after illness of three years.