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Edward I. du Moulin

America’s Cup ‘giant’ dies at 91

America’s Cup ‘giant’ dies at 91

Edward I. du Moulin is considered the first ‘business manager’ of a Cup syndicate

Edward I. du Moulin, the first true chief executive officer of an America’s Cup syndicate, helped guide several of Dennis Conner’s campaigns and later was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Du Moulin died March 28 in his Spring Hill, N.Y., home at the age of 91.

“He, in my opinion, was the first of what I would describe as the corporate business managers of an America’s Cup operation,” says Malin Burnham, one of the skippers du Moulin supported. “Skippers in prior years were really the boss.”

“Oh, my God. He’s a giant,” Gary Jobson says of the man who in 1977 was his America’s Cup competitor. “He was one of the most gracious people I ever met.”

Although a competent sailor in his own right, it was du Moulin’s skill dealing with people and his organization as a businessman that set him apart in the world of yacht racing. But his fascination with racing blossomed early in his life, helped by a surrogate father with whom the boy shared a variety of nautical experiences.

Du Moulin’s father, a Wall Street lawyer, and his grandfather both died during the 1918 influenza epidemic, leaving his mother, Adele, to raise three children, according to du Moulin’s son, Richard du Moulin. “A cousin, Sam Lauterbach, became a patriarch of the family. He was a skier and sailor,” says du Moulin. Lauterbach owned a 45-foot yawl called Thora. “So Dad grew up on sailboats. With Thora, besides taking runs [loaded with liquor] from Block Island to New York during Prohibition, they watched the America’s Cup races.”

Du Moulin graduated from Far Rockaway High School and went to work on Wall Street in a $5-a-week job. He brought with him an ethic learned from Lauterbach. “Growing up in the Depression and the ’20s and ’30s with a guy like Sam, who was such a straight arrow — despite the rumrunning — Dad grew up with this sense of right and wrong,” says the son.

Du Moulin was 26 when in 1941 he joined the Coast Guard reserve to use his yachting experience as skipper of a yacht searching for submarines off the Atlantic coast.

“He started on a 47-foot motorsailer called Bettine as a bosun’s mate,” because he had no college degree, du Moulin recalls. The yacht had a round bilge, and the crew called it “The Rolling Bettine” for the way it behaved at sea during the rough winter of 1941-’42. “After the winter of ’42, he was sent to the Coast Guard Academy to be trained to become an officer.”

Once commissioned, du Moulin became commander of an 83-foot cutter on duty escorting tankers and chasing submarines. “The U-boats would get on the surface to follow them after dark,” du Moulin says. His father’s job was to keep the submarines submerged so they couldn’t strike.

Following the war, several of du Moulin’s enlisted friends from the Coast Guard became longtime crewmembers on his sailboats during ocean races, his son says. And du Moulin returned to Wall Street, bringing his work habits back with him. “On Wall Street, he could be the only dissenting vote. He would never go along with the crowd if he knew it was wrong,” says du Moulin.

Edward du Moulin retired on his birthday, Dec. 31, 1974, at age 60 as vice chairman of the Wall Street firm Bache and Company to devote the rest of his life to America’s Cup campaigns and community service.

By then Richard du Moulin was a crewman on the 12 Meter Intrepid, which lost to Courageous in the selection trials for the 1974 America’s Cup. Courageous was winner of that year’s Cup series, as well as the 1977 series.

“A group of us from Intrepid — Fritz Jewette, Andy McGowan and I — were all working together to do a ’77 campaign,” du Moulin recalls. What they lacked was leadership and organization. “So Dad joined us. We all took a step back, and he became the manager of the campaign. The role that Dad played was really to be the chief executive officer running the entire operation,” responsible for every facet, from fund-raising to logistics, overseeing shipyard work, yacht design and crew supervision. Jewett took responsibility for fund-raising, and Lowell North became skipper. The campaign went poorly, though.

“Dad had to reluctantly go during the final trials and replace him [North] with Malin Burnham,” says du Moulin.

The move began a long and close relationship between Burnham and du Moulin. “There is nobody that I can think of that had any more respect for what he was doing, certainly in America’s Cup circles,” Burnham says. “He never exceeded his position, his authority. He did not give a false air to anybody. What you saw is what you got. So as a professional in a corporate management sense, he in those days was the epitome. He set the standard.”

His management style also impressed Burnham. “Ed was a very fair person,” he says. “I would also say he was firm in his style and convictions. He was patient in that he would listen to all sides, all concerns. He would consult with those that he felt should have some input in a decision. And he had the resolve to say: OK, here’s what we’re going to do.”

Burnham says du Moulin’s late wife, Eleanor, also was a great asset. “She could many times give a woman’s point of view on things that us men might overlook,” he says. “She was a valuable balance wheel to Ed that helped him, in my opinion, on the social side, on the human side of relating to people.”

In 1980 du Moulin teamed with Dennis Conner for the next America’s Cup defense. “Dad and Dennis were a real pair,” du Moulin recalls. “Dennis really took charge of the on-the-water activity, and Dad took charge of the shore side. Every morning they had breakfast together. They became a very powerful pair.”

The du Moulin-Conner team beat Australia that year but lost the Cup in 1983 to Australia II and its revolutionary winged keel. Conner came back for a challenge in 1987 and tapped Burnham to be his team leader. “They called on Dad in the last 12 months on a day-to-day basis because logistics in Australia were very challenging,” du Moulin says. “After that, Dad was adviser to all of Dennis’ Cup campaigns.” Du Moulin says his father was “the most successful manager of America’s Cup campaigns in history.”

Meanwhile, Edward du Moulin and fellow Knickerbocker Yacht Club member Arthur Knapp, inspired by the 1977 Congressional Cup — an annual match race held off Long Beach, Calif. — decided the East Coast needed its own big-time match race. (The Congressional Cup was second in prestige only to the America’s Cup.) Du Moulin and Knapp created the Knickerbocker Cup, which was first run in 1982 and has been won by some of the marquee names in sailing, including Paul Cayard.

Du Moulin raced a series of Lady Dels, named for his mother, and Blazes. He won his class in the 1978 Bermuda Race, among other prestigious sailing trophies. In 2001 he wrote “The America’s Cup and Me,” published by the Herreshoff Museum Press, and was in the process of writing another memoir at the time of his death. Du Moulin says his father continued to sail his most recent Lady Del, a 42-foot cruising cutter, on Long Island Sound through the summer of 2005, even as he battled leukemia. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club, and recently had been made an honorary member of the Manhasset Bay and Port Washington yacht clubs.