From the folding propeller to harnesses, from garrouds to recessed winches. All the inventions of the genius Herreshoff


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As we told you in the first installment, read HERE, Nathanael Greene Herreshoff is the father of modern sailing, inventor of many accessories and designs that have changed the way we go to sea . Let’s take a look at some of the most famous ones.

The modern harquebus

The Wizard of Bristol was ahead of his time, and these bronze harnesses from the 1920s, produced by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. are proof of that. He was the first to study them and make them in the form we know. These are highly sought-after pieces on the market by collectors (these cost $1,500).

The fin keel with bulb

For the boat Dilemma (1892), Herreshoff experimented first of all (successfully) with the solution of a thin fin keel ending in a torpedo bulb and “hanging” rudder. In short, he had invented the contemporary boat.As a good experimenter, he put everything into his bulbs, even antimony to harden the soft lead (like now).

The folding propeller

According to the biography compiled by his son, Nat Herreshoff was the first to design a folding propeller model: between 1913 and 1914 he developed a three-blade folding model for the 162-foot yacht Katoura. At the time, installing an engine on a boat was considered heresy, and Nat invented this solution precisely to reduce friction as much as possible. For a change, Katoura won so many competitions.

The “recessed” winch

Aboard Reliance, featured in the photo on the opposite page, Herreshoff devised groundbreaking solutions. Like the mechanical winch with the gears embedded in the deck. We are talking about 1903, look at the similarity to today’s models. And just think that on the other boats the maneuvering was practically all done by hand!

Garrocci & gutters

You should also know that if you hoist the mainsail with comfort today, thanks to the garrocci that go into the channel, you owe it to Herreshoff, who invented this system to replace the traditional “canestrelli.”

Metal trees

The Wizard of Bristol developed a scientific system for calculating the sizing of a boat’s structures (framework, planking, masts) at a time when most designers relied on traditional, empirical rules to determine them: this allowed him to be the first to use lightweight metal masts rather than wooden ones.

The first racing cat

At the racing level, the first sport catamaran was designed and built in 1876 by Herreshoff. On June 26, 1876, at the Centennial Regatta in New York, he appeared at the helm of the 25-foot catamaran Amaryllis and lapped the entire fleet of monohulls in the first race (but was disqualified after protests from competitors).

The most widely used rating

Herreshoff drafted the Universal Compensation Rule, which remained in vogue until 1952 and was the first reliable handicap formula (so much so that some people still use it for calculating compensated times). S represents the sail area, D the hull volume, and L a length of a “virtual” model obtained from the sum of the length at waterline plus other variables depending on the shape of the hull.




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