The year 1937 is an outstanding one for the New York Yacht Club's racing history, largely attributed to the dramatic performance of the America's Cup defender, Ranger, the last and possibly the finest J-Boat ever built. Ranger's profound dominance over J-Boats, Endeavour, Endeavour II, Rainbow and Yankee during the 1937 Cup season, earned her superiority as she set records and raised the standard in technical construction.
Ranger, named for the eighteen-gun warship commanded by Paul Jones in the Revolutionary War, was designed by Starling Burgess in collaboration with Olin Stephens. Owner, Harold S. Vanderbilt had her built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine and launched on May 11, 1937 where she began her maiden voyage down the coast to Newport, RI to commence the America's Cup races. Ranger was built to the top limits of her class, being 87 feet on the waterline and somewhat over 135 feet overall. Similar to Endeavour II in dimensions, they both boasted twenty more tons than Rainbow and Endeavour in water displacement, which distinguished them both as the formidable frontrunners in the Cup races.
In On the Wind's Highway Vanderbilt wrote that, 'Ranger was entirely different from any other J-Boat he had ever sailed, being stiffer, although slower tacking, and absolutely perfectly balanced on the wind, with her centerboard down, under any conditions and headsails.' At high speed, Ranger seemed to squat down and go, using as waterline all but a few feet of her overall length, and holding her way to a surprising degree with neither weather nor lee helm. Her quadrilateral jibs played an important part to windward and she had five. Technical improvements such as this made to Ranger, secured her pre-eminence in the America's Cup when compared to opponents like Rainbow who were rigged with antiquated accoutrements.
Throughout Ranger's overwhelming success throughout the 1937 season she started thirty-seven races out of which she won thirty-two. The great defender's average margin of victory in all races was over seven minutes, and she broke three speed records over the America's Cup Course. This was Commodore Vanderbilt's greatest defense of the America's Cup, one which, not surprisingly, has not been broken.