Monaco Classic Week 2019

This biennial event is one of the great classic yacht gatherings. Uniquely it welcomes classic sailing yachts, motor yachts and launches. It is also one of the very few such events to be hosted by a yacht club and the Monaco Yacht Club’s hospitality is second to none.

The 2019 event that ran from 11 to 15 September and our Managing Director Dr William Collier was again privileged to be invited to join the Belle Classe jury. The theme for the 2019 event was the great American yacht designers and this gave us the opportunity to showcase a previously unseen part of the firm’s archive.

From Watson’s first visit to the United States in 1886, he collected directly, and with the help of his friend W. P. Stephens, images of leading American yachts. The earliest images in the collection are of the American defenders of the 1885 Cup of which the most important are images of Mayflower out of the water and it includes stunning shots of Vigilant’s launch in 1902 and Columbia in drydock which may have informed Watson’s design of Shamrock II for the 1901 cup races.

The emergence of Nathaniel Herreshoff as the dominant creative force in U. S. yacht design is well illustrated in the collection starting with an iconic shot of his 1891 Gloriana which toppled Edward Burgess from his dominant position. Thereafter the transatlantic Watson-Herreshoff rivalry is well documented, but the images reveal the absolute importance that Watson placed on keeping abreast of all of Herreshoff’s ideas.

When Herreshoff launched his New York 70s in 1900, a uniquely large one-design class with 70 foot waterlines, Watson was particularly keen to ensure that he found out all he could about these yachts, as they would reveal Herreshoff’s latest thinking the year before the Shamrock II Challenge for the America’s Cup. Information was hard to come by, but leading professional racing skipper Edward Sycamore was in America and it was he who managed to supply Watson with range of beautiful photographs.

The American images that Watson collected include images by Stebbins, Burton, Johnson the leading photographers of the day and as exhibited at the Monaco Yacht Club revealed the appreciation of the leading Scottish yacht designer for the work of his American rivals.