The Design

Elemiah is built to the same design as the yacht Tioga. Tioga was commissioned by Waldo Brown and designed by L Francis Herreshoff in 1932.

The Designer, Lewis Francis Herreshoff (1890-1972), was born in Bristol, Rhode Island. L. Francis Herreshoff was the son of Nat Herreshoff, called the Wizard of Bristol. Nat Herreshoff made his reputation by building five yachts which won the America’s Cup in the years between 1890 and 1920. L.Francis Herreshoff had his father’s aptitude and followed in his father’s footsteps: he too designed an America’s Cup winner and was the sixth designer inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame after John Alden, Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (his father), C. Raymond Hunt, Philip L. Rhodes and Olin Stephens. Although L. Francis was not nearly as prolific as his father, every one of his works was a pearl. He was a solitary, eccentric genius who was responsible for breakthroughs in design and engineering every bit as important as his famous father’s.

Early in his career, L Francis worked for the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. and for naval architect W. Starling Burgess, another great yacht designer. There he worked with Waldo Brown, a first world war pilot. The collaboration of Brown and Herreshoff unwittingly inspired a movement that progresses to this day: a loosely defined genre of yachts called “modern classics”. In round terms, such yachts combine a classical above-water appearance with a modern underwater form. After Waldo Brown sold the first boat which he and L Francis Herreshoff had worked on together, Joann, the two of them worked on his new boat, a 57′, centerboard ketch called Tioga. This boat had a full-keeled, near-sister called Bounty. Waldo Brown sold Tioga to yachtsman Harry K. Noyes who, bitten by her beauty and speed, commissioned a further refinement: a 72-foot ketch also called Tioga – eventually to be sold and renamed Ticonderoga.

L. Francis was also a prolific writer and-in addition to numerous articles – he wrote The Common Sense of Yacht Design, The Compleat Cruiser, Sensible Cruising Designs, An L. Francis Herreshoff Reader, and a biography of his father, Capt. Nat Herreshoff: The Wizard of Bristol. Herreshoff’s writing influenced generations of designers and builders, and – among other innovations – L. Francis pioneered the concept of the canting keel, which is now so dominant in ultra-high-speed ocean racers such as those that recently competed in the 2006 Volvo round-the-world race.

Based in his home, “The Castle,” in Marblehead, MA, Herreshoff was known locally by his nickname, “the Skipper.” Famous not only for his design work but for his strongly held and strongly expressed opinions, Herreshoff worked on design right up to his death in 1972, at the age of 82.

There is a museum in Bristol, Rhode Island dedicated to the Herreshoff family.  Please see www.herreshoff.org.

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