Email This Page to a FriendPreview: The Once and Future Boat Bow, by Rob Mazza
January 11, 2017
This is an article from Good Old Boat (a magazine we like a lot), written by Rob Mazza. Good Old Boat and Rob have graciously allowed us to republish it for OCH members.
Nothing looks quite as “yachtie” or traditional as a clipper bow with its long bowsprit pointing the way ahead. Some of the most classic designs through the history of sailing have sported clipper bows, from the little Friendship sloop to the magnificent designs of L. Francis Herreshoff and Bill Garden. Clipper bows don’t have to have bowsprits (that configuration is known as a “bad” clipper), but the bowsprit does seem like the logical extension of the line of the bow as it arches compellingly forward. However, we must remember that yacht design — like architecture, art, music, fashion, and automotive design — does evolve over time and go through “periods,” so trying to define what exactly constitutes “good” design in any of these various disciplines can be a moving target. Every time I visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, I’m bowled over by the large Jackson Pollock pantings. But even he once asked himself, “Is this art?” Tastes change and, as we will see here in the case of yachts, they often change and evolve in line with shapes defined originally for racing. This evolution does not always move in a straight line but, in some cases, in what looks like a circle.