Nathanael Herreshoff designed five America's Cup defenders that sailed a total of six successful defenses between 1893 and 1920. The largest of them, Reliance, is the largest racing sloop ever build and carried over 16,000 square feet of sail and required a crew of 64. The then-prevalent gaff-rigged sails resulted in patterns of sail that are no longer seen. "Captain Nat" himself viewed the designs as extreme and dangerous and in 1902 proposed a new rule to guide the construction of America's Cup boats. His "Universal Rule" was used from 1914 through 1937.
Herreshoff's designs were built by the firm that he and his older brother founded in Bristol, Rhode Island.The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company built two additional America's Cup defenders, extending the successful defenses to 1934. Under the brothers' leadership the company manufactured all manner of vessels, steam-, gas-, and sail-driven, from yachts to torpedo boats to day sailers.
The Herreshoff Marine Museum preserves much of the Herreshoff legacy on the site of the company location in Bristol, RI: For information visit www.herreshoff.org