Classic Boat

An American, a Scotsman and an Englishman Part 2

Herreshoff was born in the same year as Edward Burgess, designer of three successful America’s Cup defenders, the last of which was Volunteer in 1887. However, following Burgess’s death at a relatively young age four years later, two of the four defence candidates for the next cup saw Herreshoff as his natural successor. Not only did he produce the victorious Vigilant for the 1893 Cup, he was subsequently responsible for the next five successful defences. Columbia won the cup in 1899, and again in 1901 after she defeated a newer Herreshoff boat, Constitution, in the defender trials. The designer always believed that Constitution was faster, but that the older boat, skippered by the legendary Charlie Barr, was much better sailed.

By the very end of the 19th century Fife Jnr was generally regarded as having succeeded GL Watson – who had previously been responsible for three cup challengers – as Britain’s best designer. Fife had accompanied Watson to America for the 1887 cup, which had allowed the younger designer to gain valuable experience and make important contacts. So Thomas Lipton chose Fife to produce the design for his first challenger, , but she lost 3-0 to in the 1899 Cup. Lipton then declared that “Mr Herreshoff lost to the same defender by the same score. Although Fife didn’t have to wait long for his next America’s Cup opportunity, it brought more disappointment – Lipton suffered another whitewash when was beaten by the mighty in 1903.

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