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America’s Cup paintings

“The Masthead Men”

By Russ Kramer
Oil on Linen, 28″ x 42″

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Crew high in the rigging of SHAMROCK III watch RELIANCE cross the start of the third race of the America’s Cup, 1903. The wiry daredevils who climbed to the top of these giant rigs to untangle lines or unfurl topsails were paid more then their mates on deck. It was said of them, “their only obstacle is death.”

Russ says: “In this painting I wanted to convey the vast size of RELIANCE, the largest single-masted sailing yacht ever built. By casting cloud shadows across her sails and pinching her into the composition, the viewer, along with the high-wire crew, have a birds-eye view of this enormous “Temple to the Wind.”


Due to the scale of RELIANCE, and the loads on it, Designer Nathanael Herreshoff fitted her with uncountable innovations: Bronze Tobin hull, steel welded mast with a telescopic topmast sliding into the mainmast, two-speed winches, sheets and runners laid under an aluminium bridge covered with cork, a hollow rudder which could be filled or emptied of water depending on the point of sail. It would take all the effort and nautical wisdom of the incredible Charlie Barr to safely skipper Reliance through the Cup, along with a crew of 64. Source: WoodenBoat

This painting is in private collection.

To see a video of “The Masthead Men” click below:

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