Three perfectly restored sailing yachts designed by Captain Nathanael G. Herreshoff and built at the famous Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, Rhode Island, were showcased at the first major event of the Golden Jubilee anniversary celebration of the Herreshoff Marine Museum. Held at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court in Newport, Rhode Island on June 24, the waterfront reception featured stunning examples of three of the club’s iconic one-design classes—the New York 30 AMORITA, the New York 40 MARILEE, and the lone remaining New York 50 SPARTAN.
Capt. Nat Herreshoff was a preferred yacht designer and builder for numerous members of the New York Yacht Club, and he worked closely with the club to produce one-design racing yachts for members to compete against one another. Herreshoff also produced America’s Cup defending yachts between 1893 to 1934 for New York Yacht Club syndicates. The one-design yachts on display at the club were accompanied by the fully restored power launch CORSAIR, built as a tender for J.P. Morgan’s 343-foot yacht of that name.
“Herreshoff applied engineering genius, superior boatbuilding skills, and elements of innovation to these boats for his clients. He was well aware of the importance of these commissions, and he maintained full design control. The boats have stood the test of time, and they consistently finish at or near the top of classic yacht regattas around the world,” stated Bill Lynn, Executive Director of the Herreshoff Marine Museum & America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
More than 200 people attended one of the first major fundraising events of the year following the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions. The weather cooperated, and the timing was perfect for the Museum as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021 with Herreshoff boat owners past and present and sailors around the world who admire the Herreshoff legacy.
“Bill (Doyle) and I were honored to be part of such a momentous occasion bringing together three Herreshoff NYYC one design yachts at Harbour Court,” said Jed Pearsall, co-owner of AMORITA. “We have been accustomed to sharing AMORITA with others across the water, but this was a unique event to bring together those with a love and appreciation for these classics, who may not otherwise have had an opportunity to see them up close, and to express their support for the museum and the preservation of these important vessels.”
“We estimate today that some 28 percent of more than 2000 vessels built by HMCo. survive; a vanishingly small portion of those are power vessels,” said Evelyn Ansel, curator of the Museum, to the assembled guests. “The boats on the dock behind us here are, in many ways, incredibly rare birds. On the other hand, it almost seems a miracle that 28 percent still survive, considering a good average lifespan for any wooden vessel is about 30 years without serious restoration efforts. We are so glad you are here to celebrate this incredible milestone with us today, but even more, to celebrate these boats on the dock, and you all for being a part of the community that continues to care for them, and to keep their legacies alive.”
The Herreshoff Marine Museum launched its Golden Jubilee earlier this year with a series of articles on an Anniversary section of its website (www.herreshoff.org/50th), including the curious story of its founding in 1971. Sponsored by BankNewport, Ørsted, Ocean House, East Bay Newspapers, Pure Insurance, Gowrie Group, Bristol Marine, and Shipyard Brewery, this Golden Jubilee is designed to engage sailors across the globe with a special focus on Herreshoff owners, past and present, and Herreshoff one-design fleets that continue to race actively from Maine to Florida. These fleets demonstrate the multigenerational dedication to the boats, and the museum is celebrating the commitment to the Herreshoff legacy with a monthly article in Windcheck Magazine, its official Golden Jubilee media partner. Also celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Newport International Boat Show has selected the museum as its charitable partner for its September 16-19, 2021 show (www.newportboatshow.com).
The museum is also hosting an expanded Herreshoff Regatta and Rendezvous from August 27 through 29, and the Golden Jubilee Gala on September 30. The museum’s 50th Anniversary concludes with a dinner at the New York Yacht Club in New York on November 18, 2021.
Since its founding, the Herreshoff Marine Museum waterfront campus has grown dramatically, starting in 1971 when it had no home but instead consisted of a small fleet of Herreshoff boats, a literal “floating museum.” Today, the museum includes a number of original company buildings, the Herreshoff family homestead, and a modern exhibition building, the Isaac B. Merriman, Jr. Hall of Boats. Named for one of the museum’s earliest benefactors, this exhibit space displays more than 60 Herreshoff boats, steam engines, and an array of artifacts. The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room & Workshop exhibit is a re-creation of Captain Nat’s own model room and workshop, and contains more than 500 original design models, tools and documents. Over the past five years, the museum has delivered STEM-focused experiential education programs to thousands of Rhode Island students. The museum is now partnering with the National Sailing Hall of Fame on an America’s Cup Hall of Fame exhibit at its new Sailing Museum in Newport, RI.
The 50-year history of the Herreshoff Marine Museum has not only preserved this chapter of American ingenuity, it serves as a bridge to the future of boatbuilding. The Town of Bristol and State of Rhode Island continue to prosper as a cradle of innovation for the maritime community. According to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, the state’s marine industry is comprised of more than 1,700 companies employing 13,000 people and generating $2.7 billion in annual revenue.