With AutoCAD and computational fluid dynamics now casting long shadows across the field of sailboat design, it’s important to go back and learn how the game started, who the leading practitioners were, and what craft came from their drawing boards. There couldn’t be a better tour guide than L. Francis
Herreshoff for this particular magical journey into the past. He was a son of Captain Nat, the Wizard of Bristol, and when this book was first published in 1963, he had for many years been practicing and writing about naval architecture and yacht design.
Herreshoff had plenty of opinions about the dozens of yachts he mentions, and he didn’t hesitate to season his narrative with the eccentricities of the captains and owners who maintained and paid for these magnificent craft. Like every great performer, Herreshoff knew that enthusiasm and humor would keep his audience from leaving the hall before his show was over.
The era when yachts sprang from a pencil, a hunch, and even the occasional touch of whimsy has gone. But Herreshoff’s eye for detail and his well-crafted phrasing allow our imagination to keep these boats sailing forever.