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.

BBA student builds replica of 1916 Morgan Giles dinghy

Replica of 1916 Morgan Giles dinghy photo by Derek Thompson


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Photos by Becky Joseph, Jenny Steer, Derek Thompson

Boat Building Academy Ben Charny built a replica of Pip Emma, a 7 1/2ft clinker built stem dinghy originally built by Morgan Giles for his children in 1916, and which is now part of the collection at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth.

The pictures above show Ben’s boat at the BBA’s class of 2012 student launch held a few weeks ago. A photographic diary of the boat’s build – Ben built it while on the BBA’s 38-week course – can be seen here.

The boat was built with sweet chestnut planking and a black walnut for the transom. Ben visited the museum to take the lines of the original Pip Emma and then lofted full-sized plans for his replica at the Academy, which is at Lyme.

The name Pip Emma is taken from the phonetic alphabet used by Royal Air Force signallers in World War I and means PM, or afternoon. In keeping with this, Ben has chosen to name his replica, Ack Emma, meaning AM.

Ben grew up just down the road from the Academy in the seaside town of Sidmouth, Devon, and has worked far from home as a deckhand and bosun in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and crossed the Atlantic.

He has now returned to the Mediterranean as a ships carpenter aboard Eleonora, a 50 metre replica of a 1910 Nathaniel Herreshoff yacht, using the skills learned as part of his training in Lyme Regis.

Ben plans to sail Ack Emma with family and friends, when back at home in Sidmouth.

The launch

The launch took place on an unseasonably wet June morning, but joined by family and friends, Academy staff and Lyme Regis locals, on 12th June, students braved the weather to ceremonially walk their boats from the Academy workshop on Monmouth Beach, down to the slipway, where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered at the water’s edge to take part in the celebrations.

Following a few words from BBA director Commander Tim Gedge and town mayor Sally Holman, Ben’s little dinghy was the first boat to launch.

More information about the academy and the 38-week course can be found on the BBA website.