Raise your hand if you knew that the Herreshoff S Class was a box rule. A box rule means that a yacht designer is given a set of parameters: length, displacement, rig size, etc. and designs within that rule; like the America’s Cup, TP52s or 12 Metres, or any of the current grand prix rules. Some of us sail under those parameters, but mostly “grand prix” type sailing with a mix of pros and amateurs. PHRF gives us a rule that bases varying designs to a measure of performance to race against each other in typically amateur competition…more on that later.
What is amazing about the S Boat is that it became a “one-design” because all the boats were built by Capt. Nat Herreshoff! Was there a yacht club committee trying to get other builders involved? I doubt it. Probably because he “nailed it” and nobody thought they could build a better boat than he. So they all went to Capt. Nat for the 120 boats he built. I’ll confess, as a kid, financing my own Etchells 22 campaign out of Larchmont for the ‘92 Worlds, I was annoyed by S Boats on weekend racing, which I viewed as my personal training time. Why did we have to wait for these crazy old timers, with their big bendy masts and tiny foresails, to finish before our next race? Ah, youth…dumb as a post.
As usual, when you dig a bit deeper, which is the beauty of our sport, you find out more. And you can, in this issue, discover an overdue respect to the genesis of the S Boats and why they have a very active one hundred year anniversary schedule. I have actively sailed Stars, Lightnings and a few other “old” one-designs and always thought they were the cream of the crop. Turns out, if you get the same builder to build your entire fleet, a better result might occur and last for a century. Oh, and for emphasis, we have a great recap of the H15s out of Watch Hill Yacht Club in this issue…the photos are stunning…more H adulation and well deserved.
This leads us to wish the New York Yacht Club and the folks at Melges Performance Sailboats. as many good wishes as we can muster. The IC37 is beyond one-design. Their slogan is “Racing Reimagined.” Not to pick on their marketing people(bad for business!), but the real slogan should be “The ultimate one-design”! Not many have noted sufficiently how strict this boat’s concept is. No shroud tuning, no extra running rigging, no wind data electronics, three sails only, strict weight and crew limitations favoring women and kids, and only one Cat. 3 pro on board, who can’t trim or steer. And, even though the NYYC is priming the pump with 20 boats, the onus on private owners is to stick to these rules. If they are successful, I predict 40 boats on the line in 2020. With a price tag of under $300,000, I think this should go into the budget consideration of almost all the clubs at which this magazine is available. How much did we spend on chemicals for the pool last year? I bet it was more than the interest and care for a boat like this that could serve juniors and adults in great, one-of-a-kind, one-design racing.
So, while I encourage all the clubs in the WindCheck zone to consider getting an IC37, we are so heartened to note that the first big regattas of the summer have been packed with PHRF programs! Most of us in the Northeast got our first “big boat” experience with this rule. And most of us continue to enjoy our sport racing on Wednesday nights under this rule, with one or two big regattas on the schedule. It’s fantastic. So, please read this month’s Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells column in which David Dellenbaugh discusses racing against boats of different sizes. Frankly, you should just subscribe to Dells’ excellent publication, Speed & Smarts. But at this moment, flip to the article on page 30 for a sample!
See you on the water.
Benjamin V. Cesare