ORIELLE II is now for sale in Newport, Rhode Island. She is a stunning example of L. Francis Herreshoff’s design work, and was built in 1929 by George Lawley & Son. She was built for and originally owned by Elizabeth ‘Sis’ Hovey, an early pioneer of women’s yachting who grew up racing in Massachusetts. In the thirties, the family name Hovey was widely associated with yachting and America’s Cup history.
Oriole II was one of the first American designed and built thirty-square meters to race competitively in international competition. She was designed in 1930 by the famous yacht designer Lewis Francis Herreshoff for Elizabeth ‘Sis’ Hovey. Driving ORIOLE, Miss Hovey would become the first woman to race and win an international sailing event. Her purpose was simple, to race in Kiel, Germany and Sandhamn, Sweden to recapture the Marblehead and Hoover Cups in 1930, both lost the prior year to the Swedes.
While the American’s lost both regettas, Herreshoff relayed, ‘we had only one new boat on the team, the Oriole II, sailed by Miss Hovey, and it is said she proved to be nearly as fast as the best German or Swedish boat in this class.’
Oriole II stayed in the Marblehead area for many years after Hovey sold her in 1934, placing respectably in capable hands against larger Swedish-built boats. By 1994, she had been acquired by the Museum of Yachting in Newport, Rhode Island. The Museum completed a full restoration of the yacht before adding it to their collection. The boat was acquired by her current owner in 2006.
Later recalling ORIOLE II, Sis Hovey wrote, ‘To me there is no boat as enjoyable to sail or as enjoyable to look at as a 30 square metre. They are easy to handle, lovely to the touch, as fast as a scared rabbit. I’ve raced many different kinds of boats since (ORIOLE II); from J-boats, YANKEE and RAINBOW, 12 metres EASTERN and WEATHERLY, down to 210s and 110s and everything in between, and to me there is nothing to compare to ORIOLE. Correspondence with George Fisher
ORIOLE II was designed by L. Francis Herreshoff, the first major proponent for the thirty-square meters in the United States. In an article printed in 1931, he stated, ‘It is safe to say that they (thirty-square meters) are the most modernistic-looking type we have, with their long fine ends and high, narrow sails. They are in their element in a strong wind and rough sea when they make really phenomenal speed for their sail area. In the races abroad, when there is any wind, they easily overtake and pass the Six-Metre boats.’
One of the most influential and successful yacht designers of the twentieth century, L. Francis Herreshoff, worked for: his father, Capt. Nat Herreshoff; the U.S. Navy in World War I; and for Starling Burgess, before going out on his own. L. Francis was also a prolific writer and, in addition to numerous articles, he authored The Common Sense of Yacht Design, The Compleat Cruiser, Sensible Cruising Designs, An L. Francis Herreshoff Reader, and a biography of his father, Capt. Nat Herreshoff: The Wizard of Bristol. Herreshoff’s writing influenced generations of designers and builders.
ORIELLE II is an open cockpit racer, with a dramatic swept-back mast, small jib and very large mainsail. She has a full keel, with lead ballast, the decks are canvas and epoxy. The bottom is a white oak keel with lead ballast attached by bronze bolts. She received all new rigging in 2016 and her set of sails have only been used six times. She’s listed by Herreshoff Yachts in Newport, Rhode Island for $45K USD.