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Herreshoff Forum => Herreshoff Sailing Vessel Classes => Topic started by: Adam on March 24, 2009, 08:24:24 PM

Title: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 24, 2009, 08:24:24 PM
In John Parkinsons "The History of the New York Yacht Club" he refrences the "57 foot class". I had never heard of a HMCo. class by this name (as in NY 30, NY 40, etc. etc.) - and he lists three boats built - Istalena, Aurora, and Winsome. Of course the Registry shows them (without a class mind you) - and this Istalena is Pynchon's earlier one (1906), not the "M". While I understand the LWL naming convention, with this class it did not fit. Why were they called the 57 foot class?

BTW early NY Times news prints of the era also have them as the 57 foot class...Example -
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Steve on March 24, 2009, 09:43:35 PM
Adam:  I think that in this context, "57 foot class" refers to where they fit in the rating rule and not the LWL.  It turns out that ISTALENA, AURORA, and WINSOME were all lofted from the same model.
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 24, 2009, 10:38:23 PM
I should have guessed that myself - I was just hung up on the "NY 57's" concept....It's the only one in the book I believe to be listed by a rating rule vs LWL naming convention....
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: HerreshoffHistory on March 24, 2009, 11:35:55 PM
It's even more complicated, for they first rated 57ft, then rated 65ft, all with an unchanged LWL of 63ft. L. F. Herreshoff describes it well: "The largest one-design yachts that we had under the Universal Rule were Aurora [#667s], Istalena [#663s] and Winsome [#664s]. They came out in 1907 when Cornelius Vanderbilt was commodore of the New York Yacht Club. Mr. Vanderbilt owned Aurora, George M. Pynchon owned Istalena, and Harry F. Lippitt owned Winsome. These yachts were composite construction with a L.O.A. 85' 3"; L.W.L. 62' 8"; beam 16' 7"; draft 11'. When they came out they rated 57', but their owners, all of whom had larger yachts under the old rule, thought that they would like to carry more sail, so at considerable expense the draft of these yachts was increased with more lead, and their sail area increased so that they then rated 65', and had less chance of winning races for their rating was increased more than their speed. However, they were nice looking craft... " (Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. An Introduction to Yachting. New York, 1963, p. 169-170.)

A reason for the modifications was to move them from Class K to Class J in order to get away from Avenger #666s which always was the winner in that class because of her lower rating.
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 25, 2009, 02:37:39 AM
Very interesting - so in their modified form they rated as J class?
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 28, 2009, 03:46:22 PM
HH - did you mean L class and not J?
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: HerreshoffHistory on March 28, 2009, 04:39:55 PM
No, why? They did not lower their rating, but increased it by increasing sail area (which was made possible by lowering and somewhat increasing their ballast).
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 30, 2009, 01:18:48 AM
Because I read that the increased sail area/ballast rated them 65 footers... and i recall the J's had to rate 76 feet. But maybe I'm understanding this wrong.
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: HerreshoffHistory on March 31, 2009, 01:10:28 PM
J-class was not always 76-foot rating. Back in 1908 (when Istalena, Winsome, and Aurora raced against Avenger) the J-class was for yachts rating 65-foot and over, while the K-class was for yachts of more than 55-foot rating. By increasing sail area the three yachts increased their rating and moved from K to J-class in 1909.
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on March 31, 2009, 02:42:23 PM
Yeah, I had thought this would be the case - the version of the J rule I think I read was 1930 - and I suspected as such with the Fact that Brittania had to be modified twice to make the later J class... But it was not clear....
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Pat on April 15, 2009, 09:07:46 AM
Thank you all for this very interesting topic.
Any information about AVENGER, I understand a K-Boat ?
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Steve on April 15, 2009, 12:02:56 PM
There was an L-Boat named Avenger, designed by NGH and built for R.W. Emmons in 1907.  Hull Number 666.  Her current status is Unknown.  Is this the boat?  Do you know if she is still extant?
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Adam on April 15, 2009, 01:35:26 PM
Steve, yes I think that is what Pat refers too - If I remember correctly from LFH's book that HH mentioned - Avenger was right on the line and could Race as either a K or and L. As a K she beat the other three. The other three were modified (see above) to rate J and thus get away from Avenger. LFH has a bit of info on her in his book - "An Introduction to Yacting "(1963) - Pat, I'd start there....
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: HerreshoffHistory on April 15, 2009, 07:10:09 PM
Here is some info on Avenger. I have sent Pat a complete factfile about her.

From Nathanael G. Herreshoff:
"... Avenger [Name], 666 [Building Number], 48 [Rating], 53 [Waterline], 46.3 [L = length at 1/4 beam as for Universal Rule], 14.06 [B = breadth of waterline as for Universal Rule], 9.47 [d = draft of water as for Universal Rule], 1,218 [D = displacement in cubic foot as for Universal Rule (= 77,952 lbs or 34.8 long tons)], 3696 [Sail Area], 3910 [Sail limit Present rule], -314 [sic] [Diff.], 3730 [Sail limit Proposed rule], -34 [Diff.], Quite able [Notes] ..." (Source: Herreshoff, N. G. "Formula for Obtaining the Limit of Sail-area in Yachts when measured by the Universal Rule Formula." Bristol, R.I., July 13, 1907. Original handwritten document held at the Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, R.I.)

"Coconut Grove, Fl. Mch 21 1927 {1927/03/21} N. G. Herreshoff Bristol, R. I. Dear Francis, ... Bob Emmons found [Gloriana] too much for "Avengir" [sic, i.e. Avenger] in light weather when some 18 years old. ... Your father -- Nathl G. Herreshoff. " (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 3: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"[In] the year 1907, the popular sixty-three foot class [N.Y.Y.C. 57 Footer Class] of sloops was built. They were ISTALENA, AURORA, and WINSOME. Also [built was] AVENGER, fifty-three feet waterline, and nearly a dozen other smaller [craft]." (Source: Herreshoff, N. G. "Some of the Boats I Have Sailed In." Written 1934. In: Pinheiro, Carlton J. (ed.). Recollections and Other Writings by Nathanael G. Herreshoff. Bristol, 1998, p. 71.)

From L. Francis Herreshoff
"... Avenger [was] in my opinion the finest all around sailing yacht ever built. She was not excessively lofty or deep but was a fine yacht in which to cruise and a most successful cup winner. I happened to race on Avenger in most of her races in the first two or three years of her life. Not only did she win most of the races she started in, but several times on New York Yacht Club cruises she would win two cups in a race --- one, the cup for her class, and the other the cup for the whole fleet under time allowance. I remember one morning her owner, Robert Emmons, came aboard and said, 'Boys, we won two cups yesterday and one of them is most big enough to use for a dinghy.' During the time I raced on Avenger she was handled by Bob Emmons, Charles Francis Adams and Captain Charlie Barr. Strange to say, she felt the best and went the best when Mr. Emmons was steering." (Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. The Common Sense of Yacht Design. Vol. II. New York, 1948, p. 47.)

"The same year, 1907, Captain Nat designed the sloops 'Avenger' and 'Adventuress.' Although they were smaller than the fifty-seven-footers, they were of composite construction as were the Fifty-sevens. But 'Avenger' and 'Adventuress' had all hollow spars excepting the bowsprit, while the Fifty-sevens had solid mainmasts. 'Avenger' was built for R. W. Emmons and was seventy-four feet nine inches O.A., fifty-three feet W.L., fourteen feet six inches beam, and nine feet two inches draft, and rated at the very bottom of the class in which the Fifty-sevens raced. As the three fifty-seven-footers rather interfered with one another in luffing, the 'Avenger,' with her lighter spars, usually slipped in and beat them with time allowance. In fact the 'Avenger' was one of the most successful yachts Captain Nat designed, and besides winning the Astor Cup four times she won countless other large and valuable trophies. The author raced on 'Avenger' many times and was in her afterguard twice when she was winning the Astor Cup." (Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. The Wizard of Bristol. The Life and Achievements of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, together with An Account of Some of the Yachts He Designed. New York, 1953, p. 270-271.)

"Avenger was one of our greatest prize winners of any time. Her story was something like this: Robert W. Emmons had owned the sloop Humma [#553s] in 1906 when it was thought that she won the Astor Cup, and this cup had been awarded to him, but during the winter the great mathematician, Charles Lane Poor, reckoned the measurements and times of Humma and the Gardner-designed Weetamoe and showed that the Gardner boat really had won the race, so the New York Yacht Club took back the 1906 Astor Cup. This rather disturbed Mr. Emmons and he decided to avenge himself, so he ordered from Mr. Herreshoff a fast sloop to be named Avenger. She was designed and built right after the 57-footers the same winter and she too was a composite yacht but rated at the bottom of Class K, or, with a change of trim, could race in Class L.
Avenger's general dimensions were LOA 74' 9"; LWL 53'; beam 14' 6"; draft 9' 6" and, while she was not very different from the 57-footers in model, she did have all hollow spars except, of course, the bowsprit, while the 57's had rather heavy, solid Oregon pine masts.
However, there were several reasons why Avenger did so well, and one of them was that two gun starts were still being used. At the first gun the three 57-footers (later 65-footers) [663s Istalena, 664s Winsome and 667s Aurora], went over the line together and did more or less luffing through the race, while Avenger made a later start all clear of the other yachts and could then concentrate on making the best time over the course. It is my opinion (and I raced on Avenger in many of the races of her first two years), that the thing that helped her most was a flat cut balloon jib that Mr. Emmons had made for her, and we carried this sail even close hauled sometimes in light weather. So I claim Mr. Emmons was the first to make practical use of what is now called a lapping jib, or Genoa jib. It is also interesting that Mr. Emmons told me he had used such a sail (we then called them flat-cut balloon jibs), on his Buzzards Bay Thirty [#569s Mashnee] in 1902. While I agree with the old saying that there is nothing new under the sun, and that English cutters have carried what is called a balloon forestaysail since about 1850, still I like to credit Bob Emmons with the first practical use of large jibs when close-hauled. I also remember that my father, who designed Avenger and followed her closely in the races, said rather crossly to me, 'If you are not careful you will carry the topmast out of Avenger,' but we generally had the jib set in stops so if it breezed up we could break it out and lower away this great jib topsail in its lee.
... In 1908, there had been a financial panic of short duration and Mr. Emmons decided to sell her that summer, so he hired Charlie Barr to put her in commission and sail her in the New York Yacht Club cruise as the best way to sell her. I was a guest and the only amateur aboard Avenger while we were standing by at Newport for a few days before the Astor Cup race, when a nice looking, middle-age gentleman came out in his steam launch to look at Avenger. Captain Barr gave me the job of showing the gentleman around and I showed him all her parts so enthusiastically that the gentleman, who turned out to be Alexander S. Cochran, bought her on the spot and took her over, crew and all, inviting me to be his guest for the next few days, so that I had the pleasure of being on Avenger when she was winning the three successive Astor Cups of 1907, 1908 and 1909. As she won this cup again in 1911 I believe that she has won the Astor Cup in the sloop class more times than any other vessel." (Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. An Introduction to Yachting. New York, 1963, p. 170-171.)

From other Contemporary Text Source(s):
"AVENGER AND QUEEN WIN ASTOR CUPS. ... NEWPORT, R. L, Aug. 8 [1908]. --- In the race for the Astor Cups, sailed over the course off Newport to-day, the Avenger made luminous her name, and the Queen [#657s], despite the efforts that were made to depose her, is still Queen in her class. The Queen defeated all of the competitors of her class, and possessed herself of the cup that goes to the fleetest schooner, Avenger taking for the second time the one which sloops had fought to capture. The triumph of Avenger gives point to the name she bears, as she was butlt to avenge what her owner deemed a wrong.
It was three years ago that Robert W. Emmons, second, of Boston, entered Humma [#553s] in the race for the Astor trophy. Humma won, but before the victor had time to admire the cup he received a letter from the official measurer of the New York Yacht Club, in which it was stated that there had been a mistake in measurement, and that, therefore, he must surrender the cup. Emmons protested and asked for a remeasurement. This was refused. Then he demanded a remeasurement of the yachts he sailed against. This was also denied. Then he set about the building of a new yacht, and savagely naming her The Avenger, sent her into this race last year to retrieve the cup. Avenger won last year and has now repeated the triumph.
The event to-day was over a 38-mile triangular course and was sailed in fast time to a freshening wind from the southward and westward. But, owing to the smaller boats realizing that it was futile to continue, only six of the yachts finished. These were Queen, Vigilant, Elmina, Istalena, Aurora, and Avenger, all in the order named. Avenger, although last to cross the finish line, was adjudged first in the sloop class, her time allowance making this apparent defeat a signal triumph. ..." (Source: Anon. "Avenger and Queen Win Astor Cups." New York Times, August 9, 1908, p. S1.)
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Charles Barclay on December 13, 2010, 05:54:28 PM
A Google search of Avenger and Herreshoff yachts done earlier this year produced an interesting tidbit (at least to me) from a History of the Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown R.I.  The article listed a Mr. Watson who owned the vessel during the 30's, was a member of CYC, and it was considered the Flagship of the yacht club at the time. 

40 or so years later, circa 1970, Mr. George Watson gave me a wood model of "Avenger" at 1/2" to 1' scale.  His family had had the model for some time.  He said his family had owned the vessel, and it was destroyed or damaged in the City Island Fire around 1913. 

There are enough articles about the vessel post 1915 winning races and transferred to an owner in Boston to indicate the vessel clearly was not destroyed.  As an eight year old, my memory of what adults said can't today be trusted; however, there would be clues to the destiny of vessels destroyed if insurance documents are available.

The Watson's were friends of my grandparents, they were into their late 60's at that time and retired from sailing in a year or two, selling their yacht. 
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Steve on December 13, 2010, 06:03:53 PM
Aloha, Mr. Barclay.  Right now, we have AVENGER as being unaccounted for, with the last known ownership being Watson in 1927.  It sounds like you have evidence to the contrary.

See the Registry entry for AVENGER: (  Any corrections you may have are greatly appreciated.

Welcome to the Forum.

Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: HerreshoffHistory on December 13, 2010, 09:46:50 PM
Avenger was still owned by William W. Watson as per the 1935 Lloyd's Register. She was under charter for the N.Y.Y.C. to W. F. Ingold in August 1935 as per the New York Times of August 18, 1935, p. S1 and owned or sailed in 1937 by John J. Daly as per the Boston Globe of June 26, 1937, p. 8. I haven't checked any Lloy's Register immediately after 1935, but she was not listed anymore in 1955.

It would be nice to find out more about Avenger's final history. What a great boat she was!
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Charles Barclay on December 14, 2010, 05:07:22 PM
Aloha Gents, and thank you Mr. Nagy for the welcome!

From the Google search "Avenger herreshoff yacht Watson" comes the fourth item quoted in part below:



Club History

by: Marston W. Keeler, 1970

These pages are dedicated to the memory of our members who have set sail on their last voyage. Without their foresight and initiative our Yacht Club would not have been. May they forever have fair winds and a quiet anchorage.

Memoirs of a Yacht Club

Our more mature members will recall the numerous fine yachts (and some not so fine) flying the Burgee of the Conanicut Yacht Club during the twenties and thirties. Among these, with their owners, can be mentioned

DOG STAR III, Commodore F. O. Allen ---THE ANNAS, Mrs. Harrison S. Morris---12-Meter Sloop ANAWA, Commodore Horace F. Smith, Jr.---VEGA, J. S. L. Wharton---PENGUIN, L. M. Keeler---10-Meter Sloop REVENGE, T. Albert Potter---Catboat ARUSA, W. Wetherill---Schooner GERTRUDE, B. Block---FISHER MAID & FIREFLY, Mrs. J. Bertram Lippincott----74 foot Sloop AVENGER, W. W. Watson, Jr.—FAYELLE, Mrs. James M. Dodge---Sloop THELEMA, Commodore Charles W. Wharton---Crosby Yawl CHERIE, W.M.C. Kimber---TODDYWAX, Herreshoff-built in 1906 for William P. Henszey--- TODDYWAX II & III, built for Dr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Ashton in the early 30’s---THANIA, ex-TODDYWAX I, now Daniel A. Newhall’s and still going strong---Friendship Sloop ESTELLA A, owned by Duncan Selfridge and presently at Mystic Seaport—And one can not forget the palatial 100 foot Yacht WILD DUCK, belonging to Miss Margaret B. Levey and Commodore Charles B. Levey, with its crew of nine, plus a watchman to patrol the decks at night.

It should be noted in this era yachting was a Gentlemans sport, and in our fleet there were few boats if any size, either sail or power, which were not run and maintained by uniformed paid hands. Fortunately the game has changed with the times, boats have shrunk in length and professional help is no longer a required standard for yachting.

Hurricanes have played a part in the destiny of our Yacht Club. The first of the century, coming ashore Long Island, hit the Northeast coast with tremendous fury and without warning on the afternoon of September 21st, 1938. Little Rhode Island stood directly in the path of this killer storm, and before nightfall over 300 lives had been lost and $100,000,000 worth of damage had been wrought in the State. In Jamestown 7 school children died when their school bus bogged down at Mackerel Cove, and the ferry “Governor Carr “found a new berth for itself on the Wetherill’s front yard. By five o’clock the wind was recorded at a velocity of 121 miles-per-hour and every boat anchored off the Yacht Club had either sunk or been washed ashore and wrecked. The pier was soon demolished, and tidal waters rose beyond the first floor level. At this point, the ranking member present removed the list of Officers and Trustees from the wall, and declared the Club “out of commission.”


So Steve, I don't think the provenace should change, just an indication of where we might find more data.  I believe the "Vega" mentioned in the same paragreaph is a Herreshoff steam vessel converted to gas.  Anyway, it is unlikely Mr. Keeler is still alive to ask further questions.

Similarly, I am tracking down a 95 year old sailor in Hawaii for my S Boat project.     
Title: Re: 57 Foot Class?
Post by: Steve on December 14, 2010, 06:03:29 PM
Thanks, and good luck with your search for the S-Boat sailor.  I know all too well what is entailed in tracking this stuff down.