Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, one of the greatest yacht designers, shocked the genteel sailing world in 1876 by entering a catamaran in the Centennial Regatta off Staten Island. He won easily. The New York Yacht Club gave him a certificate declaring his Amaryllis the world’s fastest boat, then it banned boats like it, with more than one hull, from competitions.
The club said that safety, not the members’ fear of losing, was the reason.
In the 1960s, multihull sailboats, by then even faster and lighter, reappeared.
At the forefront was a mild-mannered man named Dick Newick, who designed boats with two and three hulls that showed up larger, costlier, and slower conventional yachts in major races. He contended that old-fashioned vessels had one advantage: They made nice floating decks for cocktail parties. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.