Lecture: “Miss Winifred Sutton and the Siren of the Solent: IYRS’s WEE WINN Replica” by Warren Barker

October 19, 2023 6:00 pm

Miss Winifred Sutton and the Siren of the Solent 

Miss Winifred Sutton would have every right to be miffed.  After all it was she who took on the fleet of half raters racing in the Solent in 1892 and proceeded to win 21 out of 22 starts. Yet the yachting fraternity seems far more interested in the instrument of her success, the Herreshoff fin keeler Wee Winn, than in her racing achievements. To add to the proverbial insult, there are even those nay sayers that insist on attributing her wins to her male crew. If there be any historical consolation for Miss Sutton it might lie in the fact that she thrust the name Herreshoff into the Isle of Wight limelight through her ability as yachtswoman and that beautiful little racer was saved from the burn pile due to her achievements. Inspiring in form and fast in function Wee Winn has influenced the designs of Uffa Fox and inspired the modern reproduction, “Miss Winifred,” that now plies her home waters. With the original restored and at home in Bristol, Rhode Island, it was only a matter of time before Miss Sutton’s seductive racer inspired a second build on Narragansett Bay.  

Warren Barker, Senior Instructor at IYRS in Newport Rhode Island, has a problem with boats. That problem is evident in the number of photographs he has stashed in the school’s server, so many that at one point it was said that he was personally slowing the system down. Though mostly of builds, the photos also are of boats of interest. In 2016 or thereabouts a few photographs show Wee Winn in a cradle, sans keel, waiting for the attention of Sandy Lee and his gang at the Herreshoff Marine Museum to do their presentation restoration. Slightly forlorn but exquisite in form, the line tightened; tuned up and displayed, the hook was set. 

The IYRS replica of Miss Winifred Sutton’s Wee Winn was built during the academic year of 2018-19. Though the original existed, her delicate scantlings and condition precluded the usual forensic assault. Bulkheads obscured crucial details and the team certainly could not poke her with anything sharp. Set up on the Herreshoff Museum floor, Wee Winn was as tantalizing in her looks as she was in the mystery of how she was built. Of course, out came the camera and the ensuing documentation takes you through the build with all its hows, whys, and maybes as the team pushed ahead with the replica. 

Launched in June of 2019, the IYRS version of Wee Winn touched the water a celebration; a celebration of her pedigree, her intrinsic beauty, and the drive and determination of her builders. Skill, care, and collaboration brought the project to fruition. Though we still hold Miss Winifred Sutton’s boat on a pedestal, these recreations will continue to celebrate the woman who made her famous. Hand on the helm, in full Victorian regalia, she brought home the inspiration and the silver. 

October 19, 2023

In-Person Reception begins at 6 pm
Lecture begins at 7 pm, Eastern

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