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January 16, 2009
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Olin Stephens

Olin James Stephens II (April 13, 1908 – September 13, 2008) has been described as the best-known and most successful yacht designer of the 20th century. Stephens was born in New York, but spent his summers with his brother Rod(erick) learning to sail on the New England coast. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a term. His name is well known in connection with the America's Cup, as he assisted W. Starling Burgess on the J-Boats of the late 1930s, including Ranger, which won the America's Cup in 1937, defeating Great Britain's Endeavor II in four races. In addition, he helped design six twelve-meter defenders which made up all the defenders that won the America's Cup from 1958 with the Columbia to 1980 with the Freedom, with the exception of the Weatherly in 1962. He has also designed many successful off-shore and stock boats, including the Dark Harbor 20, which he designed in 1934. His brother is also a well-known yacht designer with whom he founded the renowned yacht-designing firm Sparkman & Stephens. Stephens was working in the Nevins shipyard in 1928 working as a drafter when he first met Drake Sparkman. They together set up an office next door to Nevins in 1929.[1] Since retiring from the company he lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he spent his final years writing computer programs for designing yachts. He was awarded the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Award by the North American Yacht Racing Union in 1965 for his contributions to sailing.

Nat Herreshoff

Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (March 18, 1848–June 2, 1938), born in Bristol, Rhode Island, was a naval architect-engineer. He revolutionized yacht design, and produced a succession of undefeated sailboats for the America's Cup Race between 1893–1920, now referred to as the "Herreshoff Period." The yachts he designed were the largest, most expensive and powerful ever created to defend yachting's supreme prize.Herreshoff graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1870 with a 3 year degree in mechanical engineering, and took a position with the Corliss Steam Engine Company in Providence, Rhode Island. At the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he oversaw operation of the Corliss Stationary Engine, a 12 m tall, 1 MW (1400 horsepower) dynamo which supplied power for 53 ha of the exhibition's machinery. In 1888, tragedy struck when Herreshoff was supervising speed trials of a 42 m, 650 kW (875 horsepower) steamboat named Say When. A safety valve popped, and Herreshoff screwed it down to allow the boat to achieve an anticipated speed. A tube in the boiler exploded, fatally injuring a member of the crew. Consequently, Herreshoff lost his steam engineer license. In the 1890s, Herreshoff favored designing sailing yachts. His brother, John Brown Herreshoff, had gone blind at 14, but nevertheless became chief executive of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, a boat-building establishment in Bristol that he ran together with "Capt. Nat," as Nathanael would be known. The company created the first torpedo boats for the U.S. Navy, as well as launches and power boats. But they are best known for their sailing boats and yachts of exceeding grace, the hulls built upside-down, with a mold for every frame, and of the lightest possible materials available. The firm supplied vessels to the elite of its day, including Jay Gould, William Randolph Hearst, John Pierpont Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, Harry Payne Whitney, Alexander Smith Cochran, and others. Nathanael Herreshoff climbing aboard Defender in 1895 Nathanael Herreshoff climbing aboard Defender in 1895 Herreshoff designed and built a wide range of craft, including the Doughdish or Bullseye class, a small sailboat to train children of yachtsmen, to the New York 30 class ("30" refers to waterline length), to the 143 foot (44 m) America's Cup behemoth, Reliance, with a sail area of 1600 m². The 123 foot (37 m) Defender was equally astounding, due to its radical construction; it featured steel-framing, bronze plating up to the waterline and aluminum topsides. As might be expected, when placed in the ocean's saline, the boat's galvanic corrosion was immediate. It won the race, then dissolved. It lasted only months. Many of the over 2,000 designs by the "Wizard of Bristol" have fared better, and today are highly prized by connoisseurs of classic yachts. Herreshoff S-Class sailboats, designed in 1919 and built until 1941, are still actively racing in Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay and Western Long Island Sound (Larchmont, NY) Herreshoff S-Class of Western Long Island Sound. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company is now the Herreshoff Marine Museum.

William Fife
William Fife III (1857-1944), also known as Wm. Fife, Jr., was the third generation of a family of Scottish yacht designers and builders. Fife was born in the small village of Fairlie on the Firth of Clyde. His father and grandfather (both also named William and often referred to as Fife I and Fife II) had also been designers and boatbuilders in Fairlie. The family business operated from a yard on the beach in the village. Fife began building yachts in 1890 and soon surpassed the achievements of his father and grandfather and became known as one of the premier yacht designers of the day. As the third generation of a venerable Scottish boat building family, William Fife inherited a rich legacy but was quick to establish his own reputation as one of the top designers in the yachting world. Often dominating his chief competitors, Fife was a master of his trade who received commissions from European royalty and from clients as far away as Australia. Following on the heels of the success of his design Dragon (1888?), Fife adopted a stylized Chinese dragon as his trademark. Thereafter, those yachts that took shape on the shingle at Fairlie were known throughout the yachting world by this distinctive scrollwork. Launching Shamrock III in 1903 at Dunbarton, Scotland Launching Shamrock III in 1903 at Dunbarton, Scotland Fife designed two America's Cup yachts for grocery and tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton who challenged for the cup a total of five times. The Fife designed Shamrock I lost to Columbia in 1899 and Shamrock III lost to Reliance in 1903. After the establishment of the first International Rule in 1906, Fife became a prolific designer of meter boats, designing and building several very successful 15- and 19-meter yachts in the years leading up to the Great War. Éric Tabarly, the famous French sailor, two time winner of the OSTAR and owner of the Fife design Pen Duick (ex Yum, 1898), writing on the designs produced by Fife during the first few decades of the century noted that: "the great designers of the period were Herreshoff, Watson, Nicholson and William Fife. Amongst these, Fife has acquired a particular reputation thanks to the sheer artistry and balance of his designs. Furthermore, those of his designs which took shape in his yard were of unmatched construction." While Fife established a leading reputation on the yacht racing circuit, his work also included a number of fine cruising vessels. Dr. William Collier of Fairlie Restorations in Hamble, UK, writing on Fife's work in the 1920s, noted that during this period, ”[Fife] designed and built not only smaller Metre boats but also a series of fine cruisers. This combination typified the inter-war era of the Fairlie yard. Like the schooner Altair, many of the cruisers echo his turn of the century designs such as Cicerly or Suzanne; similarly there were few fundamental differences in his ketch designs spanning this era. Perceived by some as anachronistic, these yachts were considered by many to represent some of the greatest refinements of the auxiliary cruising yacht ever achieved.” Id. Reliance & Shamrock III in the 1903 America's Cup Race Reliance & Shamrock III in the 1903 America's Cup Race The Fife yard also had a reputation for the extremely high quality of the craftsmanship of the yachts built at the yard. Today, it is thought that there are somewhat less than 100 Fife designs still in existence. Of these, there are perhaps fifty or so still sailing. Of the larger vessels, Altair, Cambria, Halloween, the Lady Anne, Moonbeam of Fife, Moonbeam IV, Mariquita and Tuiga grace the classic yacht circuit in Europe. In North America, the Fife ketchs, Adventuress, Belle Aventure and Sumurun, can be found in the waters of New England. Fife once said that the secret of a great yacht was that it should be both "fast and bonnie". Fife was awarded an OBE for his work. In 2004, he was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame. Fife died in 1944, never having married and without an heir. He is buried in Largs. The yard was continued for some years after his death by his nephew, but never achieved the renown known under Fife's ownership.
Bruce Farr
Bruce K. Farr OBE (1949) is a designer of racing and cruising yachts. Boats designed by Farr Yacht Design have competed in every Whitbread Round the World Race since 1981[citation needed], and have won the 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 races. Farr's Volvo Round the World boats fared less well in 2006, however, as all four of his designs experienced problems after various failures in their Farr-designed keel canting mechanisms, including an abandonment of the yacht Movistar which was unable to stanch the flow of water through the keel box, and to this day lies derelict on the ocean floor, unrecovered. [1][2] Farr is also a designer of America's Cup competitors, including New Zealand's entries in 1986 (co-designed with Ron Holland and Laurie Davidson) and 2000, and Larry Ellison's United States's BMW Oracle Racing Challenger in 2003 (accepted as Challenger of Record for the 2007 Cup). Farr's design Stars and Stripes ex.Young America proved wholly unsuccessful in the 1995 Finals, losing 0-5 to Black Magic, a Davidson design representing New Zealand and led by the late Sir Peter Blake.[3] Also helmed by Sir Peter Blake was the Farr-designed Ceramco New Zealand, which competed in the 1980 Whitbread Race and won the Sydney to Hobart the same year. Farr's design proved exceedingly fast, and Ceramco would have won the Round the World Race, save for an unfortunate dismasting on the first leg, a trans-Atlantic crossing. The deltas for the rest of the legs would have put Ceramco 30 hours ahead of her next competitor.[4] Among the most controversial of Farr's designs was that of NZ-1, commissioned for the Mercury Bay Sailing Club in New Zealand to contest the bizarre 1988 America's Cup. NZ-1 lost the challenge in straight races to a Bruce Nelson design from the San Diego Yacht Club, and serves as an excellent case study on how the process of yacht racing can be mired in the legal system when America's Cup designers radically depart from the spirit of the rules.[5] Farr is the most successful designer of winners of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, having designed 15 overall winners between 1945 and 2003.[6] Farr's cruising yachts have been sold and sailed the world around. His production designs (mass-produced as opposed to custom) have been produced by a variety of yacht manufacturers including Cookson Boats, Carroll Marine, Beneteau, Concordia, Baltic and Nauta. Some of the larger cruising luxury yachts Farr has designed include MIRABELLA, PHILANDERER, SOJANA and the two Southern Wind built 100 footers, FAREWELL and FARANDWIDE. Cookson Boatworks developed a new 50' design, using the Farr office to collaborate, called the Cookson 50. [7] Irish-owned yacht Chieftan, conceived, developed and constructed in 2005 at Cookson's in New Zealand, was the overall winner of the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race. Shortly after it was launched, Chieftan finished 5th at Australia's Hamilton Island Race Week, then won class in the 2005 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Chieftain competed in all of the 2006 season Royal Ocean Racing Club races and won class in the Round Ireland, won overall in Round Britain and Ireland Races, was awarded Boat of the Year in Ireland in 2006, and finished as as the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race.[8] Farr is a native of New Zealand and currently lives near Annapolis, Maryland. His services to yachting were recognized in 1990 when he was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
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