Photographer Willard B. Jackson captured, on glass plate negatives, the sailing scene at Marblehead, Massachusetts, between 1898 and 1937. I've been fascinated with his work for years, and have wanted to write a book on it for as along. The stars aligned on that project in 2004, and the book was released last month. It includes images of boats designed by L. Francis Herreshoff, B.B. Crowninshield, W. Starling Burgess, Albert Boardman, C.D. Mower, John Alden, and more. Jackson's images include boats built by N.G. Herreshoff, George Lawley, the Britt Brothers. There are Universal Rule Boats, one designs, 30 Square Meters, Sonder Class sloops, schooners.... Oh, what the heck: Click the "continue reading" thing for an excerpt. And click here to order it. And click here for information on a show of the artist's work currently hanging at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
[Photograph: Hart Nautical Collections, M.I.T. Museum]
Sail Area 1,422 sq ft
Designer Burgess, Swasey, & Paine
Builder Britt Bros.
The schooner Joann, launched in 1924, is progenitor to Ticonderoga, one of today's most familiar and beautiful sailing yachts. Joann herself, to paraphrase her senior co-designer, wasn't so bad, either.
The creation of this schooner was a collaborative effort between two gifted and visionary young men, both of whom combined a foundation in classical aesthetics with a progressive and intuitive sense of design. One, Waldo Brown, was the privileged descendant of generations of seafarers. The other, L. Francis Herreheshoff, was the famously artistic and fastidious scion of Bristol, Rhode Island's Herreshoff dynasty. At the time of Joann's conception, both men were employed in Boston by the top-tier design firm Burgess, Swasey, & Paine.
Waldo Brown had logged an impressive number of flying hours during World War I and, along with that flight time, had absorbed a strong intuition for aerodynamics and efficiency. But his heart was in the past—specifically, with a sleek 325-ton pilot schooner, the Clarence Barclay, that his grandfather had built and launched in 1856 in Salem. An apprentice designer for the Boston firm, Brown had cut short a formal education in general ship design at M.I.T. to focus his efforts on yachts, in a professional setting. After a few apprentice years, his own yacht-owning urge bubbled over and he endeavored to design one for himself. His goal was clear: the new boat would be a schooner, inspired by the Barclay. But Brown's experience was limited, and he knew it, so he solicited the elder, more-experienced Herreshoff's counsel and collaboration. A painting of the Barclay—a gaff, rigged, clipper-bowed beauty with loose-footed foresail and overhanging main boom—would guide the development of Joann's rig and outboard profile. No racing rule would be applied to the boat's dimensions.
The Britt Brothers of West Lynn built Joann—the first of several boats they built for L. Francis Herreshoff. She was rigged, as specified, with a loose-footed foresail; the fore boom appearing here was later added, and remains to this day. Brown is likely the gent seated farthest aft in this photograph, on the quarterdeck
In the early 1930s, Brown sold Joann. She eventually went to the West Coast where, under the ownership of the charismatic actor and schoonerman Sterling Hayden, she sailed as Brigadoon. Today, owned by Terry Klaus, she still carries that name, and is beautifully preserved and maintained.
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 Joann, he commissioned a 57', centerboard refinement called Tioga; this boat had a full-keeled, near-sister called Bounty. Waldo Brown would eventually sell 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. Designed for speed and beauty, and, like Joann, without regard to shape-constraining racing rules, Ticonderoga achieved a legendary record of races won. And she inspired the careers of current-day yacht designers whose offices continue to combine the progressive with the classically beautiful in sailing yachts.