Document No 1317: RELIANCE, launching at Herreshoff Yard, 1903

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AUTEUR : James Burton

REF : 0

EDITION : 1903

DATE : 12 Apr 1903



8x10 glass negative photographed by James Burton in 1903 at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island of the launching of the sloop RELIANCE. Image of three Herreshoff construction sheds in the background to the left and the vessel sitting on the ways, port quarter view in the middle of the image. On the left is a sign that reads: "RAILWAY 320 Ft. LONG / DO NOT ANCHOR". To the left and right on the docks are many spectators watching the launching and at the right edge the bow of a large spectator ferry.
In the foreground area are people in rowboats, gas launches, and on the left next to the dock a naphtha launch.
RELIANCE was a 143' U.S. America's Cup 1903 defender, the largest America's Cup boat ever built by Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island from designs by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff.
Handwritten neg. sleeve info.: "B-658 / Reliance Launching / Box 41".
Info. from negative emulsion top edge: "Reliance" and along bottom edge: "658 / Copyright 1903 / 658 / 2".
CREDIT LINE: Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection, James Burton photographer.


Reliance has been designed for the twelfth edition of the America's Cup for race against the third challenger of Sir Thomas Lipton. She was the fourth defender from the famous designer , and reportedly the largest gaff-rigged cutter ever built. Reliance was built at Herreshoff Manufacturing Company for a syndicate of the New York Yacht Club composed of Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller, Elbert H. Gary, Clement A. Griscom, James J. Hill, W. B. Leeds, Norman B. Ream, Henry Walters, and P. A. B. Widener.

Reliance was designed to take full advantage of the Seawanhaka '90-foot' rating rule and was regarded as a "racing freak", suitable only for use in certain conditions. She was the first racing boat to be fitted with winches below decks, in an era when her competitors relied on sheer man-power. Despite this she carried a crew of 64 for racing due to her large sail plan.

The Reliance had been launched April 11th, and even in her sail stretching spins showed evidence of great speed, particularly in smooth water and light airs.

Public domain
Rosenfeld Collection 759 600