Herreshoff Marine Museum Presents Golden Jubilee Trophy to Watch Hill Fleet 15 | News from the front porch
For nearly 100 years, generations of Watch Hill families have shared a special relationship with Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, the renowned Bristol-based yacht designer and builder, as competitive owners and sailors of the famous one-design racing yacht, the Watch Hill. 15.
On a recent afternoon in August, the Herreshoff Marine Museum extended the historic connection by presenting the Watch Hill Yacht Club with a new trophy to mark the museum’s 50th anniversary. Sponsored by Ocean House, the Herreshoff Golden Jubilee celebrates the museum’s achievements in collection, preservation and education, as well as the commitment of Herreshoff yacht owners past and present who propel the Herreshoff legacy into the future.
“Ocean House was originally built in 1868, around the same time that the younger Herreshoff brothers began building catboats across the bay at a former Bristol tannery,” said Bill Lynn, president and chief of the direction of the museum. “For generations, Ocean House has welcomed the most discerning. guests and likewise, customers turned to Captain Nat Herreshoff and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company for the world’s finest, fastest and most innovative sailing and motor yachts. Chuck Royce, who once owned a major Herreshoff motorboat, had a vision to save the Ocean House, preserve its place in history, and share it with the community and the world. In 1971, the descendants of Captain Nat had a similar vision. The Herreshoff Marine Museum was founded that year without a building, just a growing collection of historic yachts that have returned home. The Herreshoff Marine Museum was founded that year without a building, just a growing collection of historic yachts that have returned home.
With over 125 guests in attendance, the reception allowed the museum to honor two sailing legends and benefactors of the Watch Hill Museum. James “Ding” Schoonmaker, who passed away in January of this year, was “incredibly generous to young sailors and old ships,” Lynn told the audience. An Olympic sailor in his teens, Ding won the World All Star Championship in 1975 and won the Nathanael Greene Herreshoff Award, US Sailing’s highest honor, in 1988. For the museum, he contributed funds to restore the Captain Nat’s personal yacht, Clara, and recognized the opportunity to preserve the first Watch Hill 15 ever built, FIREFLY, by contributing funds for its restoration after the Muenchinger family donated the boat to the museum. Ding’s widow, Treecie, along with her son, Julian Gage, accepted a personalized Herreshoff Golden Jubilee trophy in memory of Ding.
John “Hap” Fauth, CEO of the American Magic Syndicate of the New York Yacht Club and three-time Maxi 72 Class World Champion, also received a personalized Herreshoff Golden Jubilee Trophy for extending Bristol’s dominance in the design and construction of more yachts. defend or challenge for the America’s Cup than any city in the world. An important part of the museum’s history is the founding of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 1992. Although the America’s Cup Hall of Fame is international in scope, it is anchored by Herreshoff and Bristol.
Also during the program, in front of many Watch Hill 15 owners and sailors, Lynn and museum curator Evelyn Ansel presented the Herreshoff Golden Jubilee Trophy to JB Daukas, Commodore of the Watch Hill Yacht Club. This was the fourth of 12 trophies presented this year by the museum in different yacht clubs. The trophies feature an authentic Herreshoff bronze cleat mounted on a mahogany backboard.
The museum was also able to surprise Watch Hill sailor Richard Holliday with a special trophy in honor of his volunteering with the museum during the Golden Jubilee and for serving as an ambassador for the Watch Hill 15 fleet.
In 1922, 11 members of the Watch Hill Yacht Club visited Captain Nat Herreshoff for advice on a new class of racing sailboats. Herreshoff agreed to update their design for Buzzards Bay 15 to include a modified Marconi rig. Construction began in August 1922 and Josephine (now Firefly) was tested at sea in December. In the spring of 1923, Joséphine and 10 other boats were delivered to the Watch Hill Yacht Club. Eight or nine of these original wooden boats exist, four of them still sailing in local waters. The first Fiberglass Watch Hill 15s were launched in August 1969 with further improved rigging. Twenty-five of these boats have been built and all remain in the waters of Watch Hill. Twice a week 10 to 12 Watch Hill 15 race in competition as one of the best examples of a sustainable Herreshoff fleet.
The Herreshoff Marine Museum kicked off its Golden Jubilee earlier this year with a series of articles on an anniversary section of its website (www.herreshoff.org/50th), including the curious story of its founding in 1971. The jubilee aims to engage sailors across the globe with a special focus on Herreshoff owners, past and present, and the Herreshoff one-design fleets that continue to actively race from Maine to Florida. Fleets, such as Watch Hill’s, demonstrate the multigenerational dedication to boats, and the museum celebrates the commitment to the Herreshoff legacy with a monthly article in WindCheck Magazine, its official Jubilee media partner. Also celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Newport International Boat Show has selected the museum as a charitable partner for its upcoming boat show which will take place later this week, September 16-19 (www.newportboatshow.com).
The museum also hosted an expanded Herreshoff Regatta and Rendezvous in August will be celebrated at the Golden Jubilee Gala on September 30. The museum’s 50th anniversary will conclude with a dinner at the New York Yacht Club in New York on November 18.
Since its founding, the waterfront campus of the Herreshoff Marine Museum has grown considerably, starting in 1971 when it had no home but instead consisted of a small fleet of Herreshoff boats, a veritable “Floating museum”. Today the museum includes a number of original corporate buildings, the Herreshoff family property, and a modern exhibition building, the Isaac B. Merriman, Jr. Hall of Boats. Named after one of the museum’s early benefactors, this exhibition space features more than 60 Herreshoff boats, steam engines, and an array of artifacts. The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room and Workshop exhibit is a recreation of Captain Nat’s Model Room and Workshop and contains over 500 original models, tools and documents. Over the past five years, the museum has offered STEM-focused experiential education programs to thousands of Rhode Island students. The museum is now partnering with the National Sailing Hall of Fame for an America’s Cup Hall of Fame exhibit at its new sailing museum in Newport.
The 50-year history of the Herreshoff Marine Museum has not only preserved this chapter of American ingenuity, it serves as a bridge to the future of shipbuilding, as the city of Bristol and the state of Rhode Island continue to thrive as a cradle of innovation for the maritime community. According to the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, the state’s marine industry includes more than 1,700 companies employing 13,000 people and generating $ 2.7 billion in annual revenues.