Nathanael Herreshoff - Photo credit:  Rod Stephens

Hall of Famer

Nathanael Herreshoff

Nathanael Herreshoff was a naval architect and steam engineer from Bristol, Rhode Island. Herreshoff was a protégé of Ralph Munroe and wintered in Coconut Grove during the 1920's. With 70 years of designing large and small sail and power boats, Captain Nathanael Herreshoff's (1848-1938) influence on yacht design is unrivaled. As a designer, helmsman and engineer, he defended the America's Cup six times.

Buzzard Bay Boy's Boat

Buzzard Bay Boy's Boat Model

Herreshoff's America's Cup boat,
Defender, had a radical fin keel of enormous depth slung beneath a shallow hull - a form which remains in force today. Defender was radical in other ways too: she had steel framing, bronze plating up to the waterline and aluminum topsides. Put that combination into a saline solution and you have a battery; the galvanic corrosion was terrific and the boat was literally dissolving in the sea. It lasted only months.

The America's Cup series that included the
Defender started badly when Lord Dunraven demanded a re-measurement of Defender after the first race because he suspected a ballast change on the American boat. Then the Dunraven's yacht, Valkyrie III, and the Defender collided before the start of Race Two. Valkyrie III finished that race ahead but lost a protest over the collision , after which Lord Dunraven refused to race any more.

The sulky affair was not over. Lord Dunraven revived the accusation that the Defender camp had altered their ballast. The New York Club instigated a full inquiry that completely exonerated Oliver Iselin who led the Defender campaign. Refusing to apologize, Lord Dunraven was summarily deprived of his honorary membership of the New York Yacht Club.

Catamaran Sailor
P.O. Box 2060, Key Largo, FL 33037
TEL 305-451-3287  FAX 30-453-0255

Return to Catamaran Sailor Site Index

Back to the Hall of Fame Page