Charles E. Nicholson's reputation as a yacht designer
was undoubtedly enhanced by the fabulous racing performance
of his 1912 Marconi rigged 5-Meter yacht ISTIRIA and
his 1913 Class-A schooner MARGHERITA. The schooner
won five first prizes out of six races in her first
season, and according to Nicholson's son John, was
"probably the fastest yacht ever built by my
father in his long career." The publicity attending
these fast yachts, combined with the fine reputation
of the firm of Camper and Nicholsons, of which C.E.
Nicholson was the chairman, influenced Sir Thomas
Lipton to choose Nicholson as designer for his fourth
attempt to win the Cup in 1914. A naval architect
as well as a builder, Nicholson had a great deal in
common with N.G. Herreshoff, his principal rival.
In SHAMROCK IV, he designed a hull for the racing
conditions he expected. The result was a boat that
the designer himself dubbed ''the ugly duckling.''
The race, postponed because of the outbreak of the
First World War, was held in 1920 with Nicholson on
hand as the tuning took place off New York. Although
SHAMROCK IV won the first two races, creating a serious
threat to RESOLUTE, she lost the next three. In the
first J-Class race in 1930, Nicholson designed SHAMROCK
V for the Newport campaign. Her pleasing hull form
did not help her performance against ENTERPRISE. In
1934 with ENDEAVOUR, Nicholson, recognizing the shortcomings
of SHAMROCK V's rig, designed an innovative, efficient
rig in collaboration with engineer/crew member Frank
Murdoch. ENDEAVOUR's loss was no fault of her design.
This challenger was fast, and Yachting Magazine stated,
"The only man to make no mistakes was ENDEAVOUR's
designer, Charles Nicholson." Nicholson's reputation
as a leading designer was enhanced by the fact that
he never blamed anyone for the failure to win. His
final Cup effort, ENDEAVOUR II of 1937, was the largest
racing cutter ever built by Camper and Nicholsons.
Although ENDEAVOUR II put up a good fight, she was
no match for the tank-tested RANGER. Nicholson's four
challenger designs, which were both innovative and
brilliant, have made a significant contribution to
the America's Cup.