Actions of MIT’s 15th president have ‘grown to inspire generations,’ Reif says.
A model of the 1903 America's Cup winner, Reliance, now occupies a place of honor in Hart Nautical Gallery. An event to celebrate the model's arrival in the Buliding 5 gallery was held October 29.
Reliance, designed by Nathaniel G. Herreshoff (MIT 1869), was 144 feet long on deck and carried an immense 16,200 square feet of sails, more sail area than any single-masted vessel ever built. It represents a design extreme for yachts built under 19th-century rules for length and sail area.
The four-and-a-half-foot model, built by Richard "Frenchy" DeVynck, portrays a racing yacht about two months before launching, a creature half-ready to fly and half bound to the earth.
Funds for the project were donated by Jack and Mary Dema. The Demas, in turn, credit the project to Kurt Hasselbalch, curator of the Hart Nautical Collections. "Kurt had the vision," said Mr. Dema.
Mr. Hasselbalch described the Reliance model as "absolutely extraordinary, the most significant model added to the Hart collection in many years."
Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, head of the Department of Ocean Engineering, accepted the model on behalf of the department and future generations of students. Noting the boat's "wonderful workmanship," he said he was "looking forward to bringing students to see it. It is a wonderful donation."
Jane Pickering, director of the MIT Museum, observing the crowd pressed close to the new model's case, was particularly pleased with Mr. DeVynck's decision to leave the Reliance unfinished. The model looks as the yacht might have looked in the shipyard, supported by scaffolding and surrounded by parts yet to be assembled.
"It's designed as a work in progress, deliberately unfinished, so that the structural engineering can be viewed. It's much more MIT to reveal the process," Ms. Pickering said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.