The first H 12½ footer boats were built in 1914 by Herreshoff Mfg. Co, of Bristol, RI, from the original design of Nathanael G. Herreshoff. In 1914, the 15 footers had grown into a sizable class, but were found to be a bit too much to handle by youngsters. Emmons and a group of friends approached Mr. Herreshoff to create a smaller boat suitable for their children to sail, especially in challenging Buzzards Bay wind and sea conditions and to become familiar with the characteristics of the type of larger sailboats to which they might graduate later on. The resultant boat was the Herreshoff 12½ footer, and our great class was born. It is unlikely that in 1914 or 1915 the genius of Nathanael G. Herreshoff or the inspiration of Mr. Emmons could have foretold the unique popularity and longevity of the design we have now seen for more than 100 years. As was his custom, Mr. Herreshoff designed the 12½ by making a half model of the hull and then recorded measured offsets from the model. The offsets were used to build a series of skeletal mold frames in the building shop, and the framing and planking of the hull were then formed on and around the skeleton. The hulls were thus fashioned in an upside-down position, then removed from the mold frames, turned right-side up on their keels and completed. The mold frames were re-used to build successive hulls with the same controlled procedure, assuring the desired uniformity from boat to boat. No lines drawings or construction plans were necessary. Mr. Herreshoff would specify, in detail, the sizes and types of all the materials to be used, and the workmen assigned to the job would repeat their process in each stage of construction under Mr. Herreshoff’s supervision, right down to all the special hardware, designed by Captain Nat and cast in the shop foundry. Today, H Class boats can be found all over the United States, as well as Canada (Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Vancouver), Europe (England, France, and Norway), New Zealand, Bermuda, St. Barth’s, and Saudi Arabia.
- From www.herreshoff12.org/