Friday, September 3, 2010

Olin Stephens' Nod to Nathaniel Herreshoff

Olin J. Stephens II - (at 96 years old)
S&S 75th Anniversary 2004
Image Courtesy of Houpla Studios

Design No. 4 Sail Plan

I was with Olin one day very late in his life and someone asked him what his favorite design was. His reply was a New York 30. I almost fell off my chair thinking he would certainly mention Dorade, a New York 32 perhaps, Ranger? Not another designer's work! The New York 30-Class was designed by Nathaniel Herreshoff (and built by Herreshoff Manufacturing) for the New York Yacht Club in 1905. Here's a sail plan.

Sail Plan - NY30

The sail plan at the very top of this posting is design #4, designed in 1930. The similarity to the little row of windows in the deckhouse is hard to ignore. Olin's preference for a marconi rig is evident as is the omission of any sprit.

I was fully aware of the influence the designers Olin had worked with (and sailed against) had on his work such as Clinton Crane, John Alden and Starling Burgess but it was the first time I had heard him give such a strong endorsement of Cap'n Nat. Upon review of Olin's autobiography I do find reference to Herreshoff. In the second paragraph we find the following statement: "Of course, a sound engineering background has always been valuable, as demonstrated so well in the work of Nathaniel Herreshoff, whose ability with structures made him the greatest yacht designer of all time".

A number of these beautiful boats have been restored in recent years by yards such as Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.

Here's a nice shot of Alera, NY30#1 taken by professional marine photographer Benjamin Mendlowitz. She's currently on the brokerage boat market.

NY30 - Alera

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