Cup defender WhirlwindWhirlwind was the last of the four "J" class yachts to be ordered in 1929, and for this reason her designer choose composite construction for her, as the very limited number of workmen trained in light plating for yachts were already absorbed by the other three "J's" Enterprise, Weetamoe and Yankee. And so, Whirlwind's construction is very similar to that of Britannia, she should last as long as the royal cutter which was still racing after a long life of forty-two years.

But Whirlwind has in her construction one great advantage over Britannia, and that is in her main keel taking the lead (ballast) keel for the main keel is a bronze casting, which will not shrink, swell or not, so that, if the Yacht Racing Rulers govern well and wisely, we shall still see Whirlwind racing 50 years hence. If they do not she will probably be cruising then, for she was designed with hatch openings, etc, reinforced to Lloyds requirements, so that she could easily be converted into a cruiser, these hatch openings being used as cockpits for racing.


The lines show the hull designed for the weather off Newport which is generally a moderate wind, with quite a choppy ground swell, and excepting for her wider deck aft (designed by request) she is very similar to Istalena, the crack racer in the "M" class, also by Francis Herreshoff.

The profile is very pleasant to the eyes, the stem sweeping down to the keel in a very sweet line, and to a man who, like me, believes that a pointed stern is a logical ending for all vessels, her stern is a joy to behold. The bow water-lines and sections are scrubbed in sharply, due to the fact that the profile has been hollowed out to save wested surface and water-line measurement, while the load water-line aft and the water-line above show how she has been snubbed in there.

The buttocks are very easy, though the one very close to the centre line at first sight appears steep and unfair. This is caused by the fact that the lead keel is stream-lined, and is very wide forward of midships, and it must be remembered that this buttock is cutting the sections at such a fine angle as to be almost useless in fairing Whirlwind, and little notice should be taken of this line.

The sections themselves are very pleasing, being easy and yet powerful, and Whirlwind’s lines through-out are a joy to those who understand. She has no centreboard as her lateral plane was considered to be sufficient without.


Through her length she has five sets of diagonal strap bracings, these connecting to the bilge stringer plate before continuing on their way to the keel from the deck.

The planking is in two skins, the total thickness being 2 ½ in. so that Whirlwind is not liable to shrink, and even if she did water could not find its way through her double planking, as it would through a single skinned vessel.

Her deck is in two thicknesses, these being laid diagonally and measuring all told 2 ½ in. It is covered with 10 oz. canvas, and this deck has three sets of diagonal bracing, two at the mast and one amidships, in addition to the deck beams and fore and aft tie plates.


Whirlwind’s sail plan is worthy of study, with the double headsail rig , which all the “J” class racers have since adopted, but because it was so unusual and ahead of its time Whirlwind’s managers were afraid to use it enough so get used to it. And so this rig teaches us all the great lesson that once any pioneer has put his hand to the plough he should not look back or even pause, but continue with his work until he has reaped the harvest.


Designer Francis L. Herreshoff
Builder George Lawley & Son’s yard
Owner Syndicate: Landon Thorne, Alfred Loomis, Paul Hammond.
Club New York Yacht Club
Cup Challenge 14 (1930) - Beaten by Enterprise to defend the Cup
Skipper Landon K. Thorne
Launching May 7, 1930
Type  J Class
Hull material Mahogany planking over steel frames. Pine deck.
Mast material Spruce original mast replaced with duralumin.
L.O.A. 130 feet
L.W.L. 86 feet
Beam 21 feet 8 inches
Draft 15 feet 6 inches
Mainmast 158 feet
Displacement 158 T
Sail area 7335 sq. ft.
Rating J Class 76 feet - sail number 3
End of life Broken up in 1935


Front view of Whirlwind created ??with DELFTSHIP

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Back view of Whirlwind created ??with DELFTSHIP