Famous People, Places & Things Of Marblehead.

L. Francis Herreshoff
Dean of US Yacht Designers

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Herreshoff died at the age of 82 on Sunday, December 3, 1972 after undergoing surgery for a broken hip. Since 1945 he had lived in Castle Brattahlid at Crocker Park. He had remained active as a consultant to other designers and builders and as a link with an older tradition. He always prided himself on designing for the home builder as well as the wealthy patron, and was credited with doing some of his best work in designs for the do-it-yourself builder in Rudder magazine.

He was a believer in wood as the traditional medium for yachts, and he was distressed by Fiberglas, which he considered an inelegant texture, or "unlovely" as he put it.

Mr. Herreshoff was the builder of Whirlwind, one of the 1930 contenders for the role of America's Cup defender. But he was perhaps best known for his ocean ketches, including the Araminta, Nereia, and Ticonderoga. The Ticonderoga was an ocean racer, built in 1936, and which gained new laurels, three decades later winning the Transpac race from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Mr. Herreshoff was born in Bristol, Connecticut and grew up in the famous Herreshoff boatyard there headed by his father, Nathanial, who biography, "Captain Nat," he later authored. As the youngest of four sons, Francis Herreshoff was designated for a career running the family estate.
But after serving in the US Naval Reserve in World War I, he insisted that his place was in the boatyard, where he mastered the arts of wood and metal work. In 1926 he went into business for himself, opening a boatyard in Marblehead.
Among the innovative designs for which he was famous was the H-28, a 28-foot cruising ketch of which there are approximately 100 replicas. He was also noted for the Marco Polo, a 55-foot three-masted schooner with a life-boat-type hull, dlesigned for world cruising.

in the year before his death, he designed three Rozinate canoe yawls that were built at the Lee Boat Shop in Rockland, Maine. Mr. Herreshoff himself made the hardware for the boats.

He was a constant contributor to Rudder magazine and wrote many "How To" series, detailed pieces on the construction of yachts.One of his most famous books, "The Common Sense of Yacht Design," began as a series of articles in Rudder.

Yachtsmen usually agreed that the common denominator of Mr. Herreshoff's design was good looks. All his yachts were extraordinarily handsome. At the same time, he paid great heed to the traditional in boat design and was thoroughly educated in the construction aspects.

Words that he wrote about his father, the most famous of American yacht designers, are also applicable to his own work:

"My father never used lines but always a model for developing his shapes. For if the lines can be compared to music, the models can be compared to sculpture and sculpture is all things. Perhaps some have not heard the music or felt the poetry, but it is there just the same."

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