Editor's Page

Same as It Ever Was

There is, in the archive of Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, a stunning image by Morris Rosenfeld of three different-sized sailboats charging along close-hauled and perfectly aligned by order of height. The smallest, the Atlantic-class sloop NOWETA, is to leeward and in the foreground; next to windward and a little aft of NOWETA is the 8-Meter ALALA; and farther to windward and farther aft is the L. Francis Herreshoff–designed M-boat ISTALENA. Rosenfeld named the image “Once in a Lifetime,” suggesting it was a rare moment, composed more by luck than by intent.

The image on this issue’s cover reminds me of that Rosenfeld photograph. It was shot last summer by the Newport, Rhode Island–based photographer Cory Silken, and it shows three Herreshoff S-boats clustered at a windward mark, with seemingly no room to spare between them. They look like they are dancing. The visual compression caused by a long lens, Cory told me, makes them appear closer together than they really were. But still, he said, things were tight between the boats. So it’s all the more stunning that another competitor, FIREFLY, just out of the frame in this shot, snuck in between LADY LUCK (No. 2) and VINDEX (No. 30) seconds after Cory exposed this shot. (OSPREY, No. 8, is the other boat in this photograph.) This S-boat fleet is competitive, clearly, and staffed by adept sailors.

The event was the Herreshoff Classic Yacht Regatta, off Bristol, Rhode Island. VINDEX, the middle boat in our cover shot, went on to win that competition. FIREFLY was being sailed by her longtime owner, Alan Silken, who is Cory’s father. He wrote the article about the contemporary S-boat scene beginning on page 80. In it, we learn that S-boats are popular today not only on Narragansett Bay, but also in Quissett, Massachusetts, and Long Island Sound, New York. “It is remarkable,” writes Alan, that after a century, more than half of the original S-boats are still sailing and racing.” He further notes that some of the best sailors in the history of Narragansett Bay—a region rife with champion sailors—have been S-boat sailors.

A companion article describing the origins of the class, by Maynard Bray and Claas van der Linde, begins on page 74. It describes how the early S-boats caught the attention of the upper echelon of the competitive yachting establishment in 1920, when AMERICA’s Cup yachts were fitting out at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol at the same time as the S-boat’s initial trials.

And we learn in both of these articles that, although the Herreshoff S class is about to turn 100 years old, all of the boats racing today are vintage ones. Unlike boats of similar-aged classes that have been through rig redesigns, or have been built in fiberglass, or have been built recently in wood, all of the competing S-boats today are originals—built first by Herreshoff and later by Lawley. They are as they have always been—beautiful, sublime, and extremely competitive. They are still driven by their original deeply curved masts carrying colossal mainsails, tiny jibs, and labor-intensive running backstays. The Herreshoff S-boat is, indeed, the same as it ever was, as illustrated by Cory’s own, striking, once-in-a-lifetime image.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

scarfing two lengths of purpleheart
Page 24

Replacing TALLY HO’s Timber Keel

by Text and photographs by Leo Goolden

When I purchased the 48' LOA 1910 Albert Strange cutter TALLY HO, I knew that she would need to be almost completely rebuilt. One of the things that I hoped to salvage, however, was the elm keel.

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Leo Goolden
Page 36

Four Under 35

by Tom Jackson

They cannot be pigeonholed, these four; they constitute, in fact, a master class in contrasts: Schelbert had never been sailing before “hitchhiking” across the Atlantic on an 85-footer; Theriault, on the other hand, grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he not only started sailing as a child but also bought his first boat at age 12. Goolden resisted a university education and predictable career paths in favor of adventure; McMurdo, however, stayed on the path to his university degree in mechanical engineering and went right to work. McMurdo negotiates the notoriously expensive city of Vancouver; Schelbert is working in a tiny cove in Guatemala between charter sailing crew jobs.

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Page 40


by Nic Compton

There was even a boatbuilding event, with a group of people planing down a 35' pole on a boat moored up at the quayside. The work taking place aboard that boat wasn’t a demonstration. The pole was to be the bowsprit of the 1878 Lowestoft drifter GLEANER, newly restored by the Penryn, Cornwall, shipwright Spike Davies.

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1937 purse seiner WESTERN FLYER
Page 52


by Jonathan White

I first saw WESTERN FLYER on a drizzly February morning in 2015. She was outside on chocks in Port Townsend, Washington, recently salvaged from the bottom of the Swinomish Channel. Dismasted, barnacled, mud-clad, she was a 77' mess.

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Page 60

Aboard: ANNA

by Matthew P. Murphy · Photographs by Alison Langley

The sloop ANNA is, effectively, a big daysailer—but one with elegant and comfortable accommodations for the occasional offshore delivery passage.

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Page 66

The Two Lives of the Schooner VALORA

by David D. Platt

It’s hard to imagine anyone recovering sufficiently from the loss of a nearly new schooner to commission a second one—different, bigger, and better—designed and built by the same pair of craftsmen as the first. Unless we’re shipping magnates or the U.S. Navy, few of us order more than one boat from a single builder, and still fewer of us think in terms of “community” when it comes to owning boats, large or small.

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Page 74

The Origins of the S-boat

by Maynard Bray and Claas van der Linde

The Herreshoff S class, a 27' 6" one-design sloop that first sailed in 1920, is now nearly 100 years old, but it is still fiercely competitive. Few other classes of this age can make that claim. An S-boat is recognizable by its pronounced spoon bow, a displacement hull with lots of deadrise, a short and deep keel, and the typical Herreshoff pointed cabin trunk. But what makes it stand out is its sharply curved mast carrying a huge marconi mainsail and a diminutive self-tending jib.

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Page 80

A Century of S-boats

by Alan Silken • Photographs by Cory Silken

The first boats of the Herreshoff S class were ordered in late 1919, and as the design enters its 100th year, S-boats remain incredibly fun to sail. With an immense mainsail, tall spruce mast, and 3,350-lb lead ballast keel, these boats can drive con­fidently through 30-knot winds or sail circles around more modern boats in light zephyrs.

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