Herreshof – an introduction


There aren’t too many Herreshoff boats to be found today around the UK – though there’s one local to where I sail – but I think he’s well worth reading about, and this article provides an introduction.

‘Herreshof… is recognized as the most influential American yacht builder who ever lived. For nearly three decades his boats dominated the America’s Cup race, and today the hundreds of his boats that remain are regarded as marvels of design and engineering.

‘Born in Bristol [USA] in 1848 to a boat-building family… Herreshoff enrolled at MIT in 1866, excited about the potential of marine steam engineering to create high-performance boats… Herreshoff had a few notable successes harnessing this new form of power. He designed the first steam-powered fishing boat and the first steam-powered spar torpedo boat. The latter was just fast enough to inflict a crude form of violence. “You ran up, jammed the torpedo into the boat, smashed it into reverse, and got out as fast as you could… ”

‘Herreshoff’s greatest success — and the place where his genius really shined — was in yacht design. Between 1893 and 1920 his boats won the America’s Cup six times with names like Vigilant, Defiance, and Resolute.

‘In 1876 he introduced multi-hulled boats to yacht racing when his catamaran Amaryllis won the New York Centennial Regatta in a walk. “He trounces everyone… His boat was going 19- to 20 miles an hour, and most yachts were going 8 to 10 miles per hour…. despite his convincing win, Herreshoff did not take home the trophy. “Shortly thereafter they disqualified him”‘

Read the article here, here, here, here and here.

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