In my April 23rd post I mentioned one of the more remarkable small boats in our collection, the sailing hydrofoil Monitor which was made by the Baker Manufacturing Company in 1955. In preparation for the Speed & Innovation exhibition we have started restoring the hard wing sail that came with the boat (apparently, it was supposed to have a mate but it was never completed). The sail is remarkable because it is amazingly similar to the hard wing sails used on the 2013 and current America’s Cup Class catamarans.
I am always astounded by the modern hard wing sails which—and yes, I know they are carbon fiber so they are obviously strong—have “ribs” (for lack of a better word) that appear remarkably fragile. Our sail, which is built like an airplane wing (think “biplane”) has a super fragile internal wooden structure covered by doped canvas. Sadly, the canvas became seriously brittle over the years—so brittle it tore if you stared at it cross-eyed! Several months ago we removed the canvas covering in the hope that we would find a conservator specializing in historic airplane restorations that could help us recover it. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find anyone willing to take on the project.