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Let's keep schooner BRILLIANT brilliant.

For the past 70 years, Brilliant has served as a flagship and ambassador for Mystic Seaport Museum and as the Museum's voyaging sail training vessel, introducing teenagers and adults to the thrill and challenge of life at sea.

In the Brilliant Program, teens join the crew as deckhands and take on all tasks required to sail our vessel safely. This includes steering, sail handling, navigation, and even galley duty! As we know, many of life's most important lessons can be learned at sea; Brilliant is a great teacher. Our students take on the great weight of responsibility when they become crew, taking care of their shipmates, the vessel, and themselves. 

The impact of the Brilliant program goes beyond the act of sailing by challenging our student crew to become the best version of themselves. Teens who participate in the Brilliant programs tell us of the resulting positive impact on their self-esteem, self-confidence, communication and negotiation skills, and the ability to navigate in unfamiliar terrain. Many of the teens on Brilliant find that their world opens up to new ideas and possibilities for their future that they had never before considered available to them.

In 1930, legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens was commissioned to design Brilliant, a 61'6" gaff-rigged schooner-yacht, capable of ambitious ocean voyaging. The shipwrights in the Henry B. Nevins Yard tasked with building Brilliant savored the job, relieved to have work when the economy was in the depths of the Great Depression. The result is an extraordinary yacht that has remained largely original and, at 91 years old, has yet to require a rebuild. WoodenBoat Magazine calls Brilliant "one of the best maintained and sailed classic yachts in the country-if not the world."

After 91 years of sailing, Brilliant, and the onboard programming, remain exemplary. During this impactful 70th season with Mystic Seaport Museum, Brilliant sailed throughout New England, even sailing up to Maine waters for the first time since before the pandemic. In addition to our typical programming, we introduced new programming including Girl Scout Mariners as well as offering an accredited Maritime Studies Program onboard in partnership with the University of Connecticut. 

As we approach Brilliant's Centennial, we are actively working to expand the reach of our vessel and programs with sights set on more blue-water, offshore passage voyaging. Goals of this nature require preparation and thoughtful planning; therefore, significant investments will be made to upgrade outdated equipment, including the engine, replace worn gear, and repair parts of the internal structure that have aged.

Brilliant has such a storied legacy, and from her transatlantic record in 1933 to her current role running one of the oldest sail training programs in the country, Brilliant remains extraordinary. Generations of benefactors, crew, volunteers, and both adult and youth guest crew have all created the vibrant community and successful program that has kept Brilliant sailing. For that we are grateful. With your financial support, we will continue to care for the vessel that has taken care of thousands of sailors across thousands of miles at sea. It is not just the money that keeps Brilliant sailing but the people like you who believe in the Museum's mission and that the sea connects us all.


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

6:30 pm cocktails in the Great Hall

7:30 pm dinner, award presentation, paddle raise in the Dining Room

9:00 pm casual conversation with Admiral Stavridis in the Main Bar

9:00 pm music and dancing in the Great Hall

Metropolitan Club

One East Sixtieth Street

New York, NY 10022-1054


RSVP by September 20, 2023

Black-tie optional 

Have questions? Please contact the Advancement Department at 860.572.0711 ext. 5052 or [email protected].



Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), is a decorated sailor, author, consultant, and businessman contributing to the American maritime culture through his nearly four decades of service and numerous books and articles on related subjects.

In the early pages of his book Sea Power Admiral Stavridis speaks of his first voyage on the Pacific: "As I emerged from the dark passageway of the ship, I was simply stunned by all the sunshine, the salt air and vast ocean in front of me . . . The Pacific grabbed me by the throat and said quite simply, 'You are Home' and I have never looked back."

A Florida native, Jim Stavridis attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent 37 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and counter piracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded US Southern Command in Miami, charged with military operations through Latin America for nearly three years. He was the longest serving Combatant Commander in recent US history. Following his military career, he served for five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. He led the Navy's premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Admiral Stavridis was promoted directly from 1-star rank to 3-star rank in 2004. He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational leadership, along with more than 50 US and international medals and decorations, including 28 from foreign nations. He also commanded a Destroyer Squadron and a Carrier Strike Group, both in combat.

He earned a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School at Tufts, winning the Gullion prize as outstanding student in his class in 1983, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student, and in addition to English he speaks Spanish and French.

Admiral Stavridis has published twelve books on leadership, character, risk, the oceans, maritime affairs, and Latin America, as well as hundreds of articles in leading journals. An active user of social networks, he has tens of thousands of connections on the social networks. His TED talk on 21st-century security in 2012 has close to one million views. He tweeted the end of combat operations in the Libyan NATO intervention. Two of his most popular books are Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character published in 2019 and the novel 2034: A Novel of the Next World War in 2021, which was a New York Times bestseller and is being published in 22 languages. His most recent book is To Risk It All: Nine Crises and The Crucible Of Decision. Admiral Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News.


The America and the Sea Award, established by Mystic Seaport Museum in 2006, honors and celebrates those who embrace the scholarship, exploration, adventure, aesthetics, competition, and freedom that the sea inspires.


2022  Captain Bill Pinkney, former Mystic Seaport Museum trustee, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, sailor, educator, author, and adventurer.

2021  Terry Hutchinson, outstanding yachtsman and President of Sailing Operations/Skipper of American Magic

2020 Tom Whidden, America's Cup Hall of Famer and one of the most acclaimed sailors of all time

2019  Wendy Schmidt, American businesswoman and philanthropist whose ocean explorations have advanced our understanding of the ocean's biodiversity and vulnerability

2018  Dawn Riley, groundbreaking Whitbread and America's Cup sailor, and Oakcliff Sailing

2017  David Rockefeller, Jr., philanthropist and environmentalist, and his Sailors for the Sea

2016  Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats

2015  Nathaniel Philbrick, author and historian

2014  Charles A. Robertson, founder, chairman and CEO of American Cruise Lines, Inc., Pearl Sea Cruises, and Chesapeake Shipbuilding

2013  Gary Jobson, America's Cup Hall of Famer and author

2012  Jon Wilson, WoodenBoat Publications founder

2011   The Honorable John F. Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy

2010  Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and explorer

2009  William I. Koch, America's Cup sailor

2008  Thomas B. Crowley, Jr., President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation

2007  David McCullough, author and historian

2006  Olin J. Stephens, II, legendary yacht designer




Betsy and Hunt Lawrence




J. Barclay Collins, II

Delamar Hotels

Neuberger Berman




Grant and Peggy Cambridge
Capital Group - American Funds

Glenmede Endowment and Foundation Management

Pakis Family Foundation



American Water

Arader Galleries

Maarten de Jong and Kendra Matthew

Renate and Peter Gleysteen

Delphine and Michael S. Hudner

Cynthia and Robert Martin

Sheila McCurdy and David Brown

Cayre and Alexis Michas

Robert Musetti and Carol Allison-Musetti

Laurie Olson and Maria Fasulo

Risk Strategies | Gowrie Group

Rockefeller Foundation

Susan and Martin Wayne & Amy Baldwin and Hugh Davis

Betsy and George White

Wiggin and Dana

Michael Wiseman and Helen Garten (x2)



$600,000 Goal


Total Raised


Mystic Seaport Museum
Please contact the Advancement Office:

Event Location

Metropolitan Club, East 60th Street, New York, NY, USA

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