Soundings - - Classics - IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY JIM EWING — Steve Knauth

Asuc­cess­ful one-de­sign rac­ing class needs a boat that’s well-suited to the lo­cal wa­ters, eas­ily built and not overly ex­pen­sive. Most of all, the boat needs to be fun to sail, ex­cit­ing to race and com­pet­i­tive in a range of con­di­tions, from light air to heavy weather. The fact that the Wianno Se­nior is all of these things — and grace­ful as a swan — is one rea­son the 104-year-old gaff-rigged sloop is among the long­est-lived one de­sign sailboats in the an­nals of Amer­i­can yacht­ing.

She has an over­all length of 25 feet and is just un­der 18 feet on the wa­ter­line. The long keel hides a cen­ter­board, giv­ing the boat a draft from less than 3 feet to al­most 6. This and 1,200 pounds of bal­last help off­set her 366 square feet of sail. The cock­pit has room for a crew of four, there’s a cabin be­low for sail stowage, and the 4,100-pound-dis­place­ment hull was de­signed to han­dle a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions.

It’s just what mem­bers of Wianno Yacht Club wanted in 1913 when they com­mis­sioned cat­boat builder Ho­race Manley Crosby to de­sign a “fine gen­tle­man’s plat­form” for rac­ing on the shoal-rid­den south shore of Cape Cod, Mas­sachusetts. The Crosby Yacht Yard was a good choice. Founded in 1798 by Daniel and Jesse Crosby Jr., who be­gan build­ing boats in Oster­ville, Mas­sachusetts, the com­pany gained fame in 1850 when broth­ers Ho­race and C. Wor­thing­ton Crosby launched Lit­tle Eva, the first of the Crosby cat­boats.

In the cen­tury-plus since, more than 180 Wianno Se­niors were built, and it’s be­lieved that more than 140 sur­vive. First built of wood, the de­sign sur­vived the tran­si­tion to fiber­glass in the 1980s, re­tain­ing the look and sail­ing qual­i­ties of the orig­i­nal. The Wianno Se­nior re­mains an ac­tive rac­ing class along Cape Cod ( wian­nose­nior.org).

Among the many Wianno Se­nior sailors was Pres­i­dent Kennedy, who owned Vic­tura (sail No. 94) for many years. That boat is on dis­play at the John. F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary & Mu­seum in Bos­ton.

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