Herreshoff S Class




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One-Design Class Type: Keelboat

Was this boat built to be sailed by youth or adults? Adult

Approximately how many class members do you have? 19

About Herreshoff S Class


2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Herreshoff S-Class boat that splashed in the waters off Bristol, Rhode Island in 1919. The S Class Centennial Herreshoff Classic Regatta, held at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island last August 2019 highlighted the S-Class in honor of its anniversary. As many as 28 of these splendid yachts participated in the event.

Transcending the competition of the races, the splendor of such a large fleet of magnificent S-Class yachts sailing together will be a very special occasion for both sailors and spectators. Three Fleets were represented. Quissett Harbor Herreshoff S Class, Western Long Island Herreshoff S Class and the Narragansett Bay Herreshoff S Class.

By any measure, the S-Class is unique among yachts. Designed by the “Wizard of Bristol,” Captain Nat Herreshoff, perhaps the most renowned American naval architect ever. The S-Class was, and still is, one of Herreshoff’s most remarkable concepts. While Herreshoff is best known for his highly successful America’s Cup yachts, his innovative mind did not rest when it came to the finishing touches on this relatively small 28-foot yacht. From the unique graceful curve of the mast, the proud shape of the bow, the eye-pleasing overhang of the stern, to the remarkable contour of the keel, there is nothing ordinary about the design of the S boat.

Although there were only about a hundred S boats built between 1919 and 1940, many of the original boats are still actively racing in highly competitive in large regattas. While there are older one design class boats in the United States, the S-Class is the oldest one design still sailing in the original boat and rig of all wood construction. The fact that S boats continue to be viable and exciting to sail and race is a testament to how well they have stood the test of time. Even by today’s standards, they have design features that are remarkably modern, which has a lot to do with their ability to compete successfully against contemporary racing sailboats.

S boats are easily distinguished by a striking curve in the mast, which may appear to be sharply raked aft. In fact, the spar has a built-in curve that may have been an attempt to emulate a gaff rig. Remember, the S -Class was the first Marconi rig Herreshoff designed. The curved mast allows for some unique adjustments to the sail shape and sailing performance.

S boats are the closest thing to a pure-bred true sailor’s dream boat for sailing performance. The boats are fast in light wind due to the large sail area, and they handle very well and remain extremely stable in a strong breeze due to the full lead keel and the design of the curved mast. The boat sails very close to the wind with a small self-tending jib. S boats fly downwind under spinnaker, which requires a skilled crew to coordinate handling spinnaker lines, halyards, running backstays, and sheets all simultaneously.

S-Class yachts bear a fair ballast of mystique. Many a racing sailor has been seen scratching his head or mumbling in disbelief as he stares at the wooden transom of an S boat pulling away on a 20-mile race to Block Island, or a 19-mile race around Jamestown Island. Perhaps the true secret to the success of the S-Class remains in Captain Nat’s unrivaled eye for yacht design.

Fred Roy
Commodore, Narragansett Bay Herreshoff S Class Association 2020


Boats Produced: 103

Class boat builder(s):

Herreshoff Manufacturing
George Lawley and Son
US Navy

Approximately how many boats are in the USA/North America? 66

Where is your One-Design class typically sailed in the USA? List regions of the country:


Does this class have a spinnaker or gennaker? Yes

Ideal combined weight of range of crew:  650

Boat Designed in 1919


Weight of rigged boat without sails: 6375

Draft: 4’9″

Mast Height: 37’0″