Valkyrie III bears down on Defender at the start of the second race of the infamous America’s Cup of 1895, her boom swinging over the heads of Captain Hank Haff, designer Nat Herreshoff and syndicate head C. Oliver Iselin. In a moment it will snag Defender’s topmast shroud, setting off a storm of controversy.
Russ Kramer writes: “I was so inspired by Nat Herreshoff’s first-hand account of this incident, describing how C. Oliver Iselin hollered “we will hold our course!” to Valkyrie III as her boom swung directly over the heads of those onboard Defender. What a sight that must have been! So I wanted to put us right on deck, as if we were eyewitnesses to ‘The Foul’ as it happened. It is perhaps the most infamous incident in the history of the America’s Cup, due entirely to Valkyrie owner Lord Dunraven’s strident poor sportsmanship after the fact.”
In 1893, Captain Nathaniel herreshoff designed his first America’s Cup defender, VIGILANT, for the C. Oliver Iselin Syndicate. She was a 124′ centerboard sloop with a hollow board of bronze. DEFENDER was a 123′ keel sloop with light-weight, sophisticated construction of aluminum and bronze plating on steel framing. His COLUMBIA of 1899 and 1901, fitted with a telescopic topmast, was the only Cup defender to turn back two Cup challenges until INTREPID in 1967 and 1970. COLUMBIA was a 131′ keel sloop of Tobin bronze on frames of nickel steel. RELIANCE of 1903 was 143’8″ long and carried more sail on a single mast than any vessel of its kind ever built. Her sail area of 17,000 square feet was more than twice that of the J-boat RANGER and nearly eight times that of a twelve meter. On a reach, RELIANCE was the fastest monohull Cup defender of all time. RESOLUTE of 1920, a 106’3″ sloop was designed to the 75′ waterline length provisions of the Universal Rule, which Captain Nat developed several years earlier to replace the former Seawanakha Rule. After losing the first two races, she came back to defeat SHAMROCK IV 4-3.
Nat Herreshoff was also a genius in building hulls and fittings, which, while lighter than those of competitors, stood up to the work they were designed to do. No one had greater impact on keeping the America’s Cup in this country than Captain Nat. Source: Herreshoff.org
This painting was first shown at the June 2004 America’s Cup Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Newport, RI, honoring Captain Hank Haff, and was featured at the 2004 Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition. The original oil on canvas, measuring 40″ x 27″, is now in private collection.