At age twelve when his father, Edward Burgess fell
to typhoid fever, there was little doubt that W. Starling
Burgess would one day rival his father's genius. He
had inherited his father's analytical thought and
uncommon sense of form. It hardly came as a surprise
when the 22 year old Starling withdrew from Harvard
in his senior year to open his own design firm.
With legends such as Edward Burgess, Nathanael Herreshoff,
George Lawley, Jr. and Arthur Binney for mentors,
his success in yacht design seemed assured. Armed
with his inherited talents, lessons from the masters
of yacht design and an intelligence that kept him
at the head of his class at Harvard, Burgess set out
on his quest for speed and grace in yacht design.
He found the embodiment of what he sought in design.
ENTERPRISE, with her aluminum spars and Tru-Loc fittings
proved her worth in a duel with SHAMROCK V in 1930.
RAINBOW, another W. Starling Burgess design, gave
the New York Yacht Club as good a scare as they would
get, dropping two races to ENDEAVOUR before coming
back to win the next four straight.
In 1937, Starling took a rising young naval architect
named Olin Stephens into his quest for grace and speed
in America's Cup design. The result was the J-class
masterpiece, RANGER. She was without equal. The fastest
of the J boats, she crossed the line 17 minutes ahead
of ENDEAVOUR II in their first race. RANGER never
let her get closer than three and a half minutes as
she took the series in four races. Those who saw RANGER
called her the most beautiful, most powerful, and
most destined to win.
Starling Burgess' quest for design superiority drove
him to success outside of the America's Cup arena
as well. He was the first American to design twelve-meter
class yachts. Of all his schooners, cutters, yawls
and one designs, his favorite was the staysail schooner
NINA. Today NINA has the distinction of having one
of the best records in ocean racing history. He is
also known for his airplane manufacturing company,
which flew the first airplane in New England, and
as the author of "The Eternal Laughter and Other