I was hired in 2015 to make improvements to Nat Herreshoff’s Alerion, and to develop computer faired lines and loftings. Like many other boat lovers I loved this design from the moment I first saw Nat’s original at Mystic Seaport. But after much study I discovered that the original design had some serious flaws, being very tender and hard to steer. Rumor has it that Nat added over 600 pounds of internal ballast to his to attempt to stiffen her up, but that was not enough. When he got a sistership commission he designed Sadie, now in the Herreshoff museum in Bristol, RI. He made Sadie 5″ beamier, heavier, and lengthened the bow to bring the jibstay and thus the center of effort further forward. While this improved matters the design still was very tender and still developed way too much weather helm.
With all this history as my guide, I used Sadie‘s beamier hull and a 21st-century keel to make her reassuringly stable, and my 40 years of study to perfect her helm balance. And it worked- this is truly a perfected Alerion/Sadie.
HERRESHOFF ALERION DERIVATIVE
LOA : 27’ 0”
LWL: 21’ 8”
BEAM: 7′ 10”
DRAFT: 4’ 6”
DISPLACEMENT: 6476 lb
BALLAST (LEAD): 3200 lb
SAIL AREA: 365 sq ft
D/L RATIO: 284
Bella Luna– the French & Webb built revised Alerion/Sadie, was revised to correct the lack of stability and excessive helm of Alerion. The obvious answer was to fit a full, relatively deep keel with its outside ballast over two feet lower than the centerboard versions. This resulted in more than enough stability to please present-day sailors. The weather helm was corrected by making the rig a little taller and moving the leech of the mainsail further forward, with the added benefit that the rig could then be fitted with a permanent backstay. Bella Luna, built by French & Webb in Belfast, Maine, is wonderfully stiff- able to handle over 20 knots apparent wind without reefing- and an absolute delight to helm in all conditions. And she’s just as beautiful as the original, as the accompanying photos should illustrate.
Everyone knows how much I admire the work of America’s master yacht designer. Ever since I bought Petunia in 1973 (Herreshoff 12 1/2 hull number 1405- built in 1937), I have come to love Nat Herreshoff’s designs. If you’d like to hire someone with the combination of sufficient reverence for his work, combined with twenty-first-century knowledge of yacht design, to contribute to a modern day interpretation of Nat’s work, I would be glad to assist you.
And if you’d like a sistership to this beautiful, perfected Alerion/Sadie, you can get one from French & Webb Boatbuilders, Balfast, Maine.
This design is featured in both of my recent books; MY YACHT DESIGNS and the Lessons they taught me, and THE BOATS I’VE LOVED- 20 Classic Sailboat Designs by Chuck Paine. Both are beautiful, full colored, first class books which give you lots more information on this design, and can be purchased on this website.