1878 John Brown Herreshoff, a blind boatbuilder from
Bristol, Rhode Island, who had been in business since
1863, went into partnership with his younger brother,
Nathanael Green Herreshoff, a naval architect and steam
engineer. The name of their new firm was the Herreshoff
Manufacturing Company. The partnership was an immediate
and lasting success. The same love of competition and
technological innovation that had made J. B. and Nat
almost unbeatable when as boys they raced sailboats
together on Narragansett Bay brought them fame as builders
of some of the world's fastest steam yachts and torpedo
From the first, the Herreshoff Mfg. Co.
was noted for the ingenuity and excellence of its designs,
its construction methods, its manufacturing and business
efficiency, and for its uncanny ability to create fast
and stylish boats. Although the Herreshoff brothers
never lost their love or mastery of steam engineering,
it was as producers of outstanding racing and cruising
sailboats up to 162 feet in overall length that the
Company earned its most enduring fame.
Between 1893 and 1914, for the defense
of the America's Cup, Captain Nat designed and built
seven of the largest, most complex and powerful racing
sloops the world has ever known. Of these, five were
selected to sail as defenders, and all five were victorious.
The firm also launched many hundreds of custom designs,
both large and small, and a number of one-design classes
(among them Herreshoff J12'1/2- and 15-Footers, S boats,
and New York 30's, 40's, and 50's) that have never been
bettered for all-around sailing excitement and pleasure.