In the Fall of 1913 a group of sailing enthusiasts on the south coast of Cape Cod (Massachusetts), all members of the Wianno Yacht Club, asked Manley Crosby, of the Crosby Boat Building Storage Company, Osterville, to build a small racing day-sailor, suitable for the difficult local conditions, characterised by strong winds and tidal currents and frequent unmarked sandy shallows. This is how the Wianno Senior “knockabout” came into being, named after the small village of Wianno, so called from the native American chief of the Iyanough tribe, from whom the area had been bought by the first settlers in 1664.
The Wianno Senior is 25 feet long and 8 feet wide, with an oak keel with cast iron ballast and a movable wooden centreboard. The first 14 were built by Crosby in the winter of 1913-14 and sold at the agreed figure of just over $600. Until the 1980s, the boats were built with oak frames and mahogany planking, deck and cockpit in cypress boards covered with waxed cloth and sitka spruce spars. In 1927 the rudder was lengthened and in 1928 running backstays were added to hoist a 269 square foot spinnaker with spinnaker pole which originally was more than 13 feet long, later reduced to 9 feet to be more practical.
The Wianno Senior met expectations from the very beginning, as can be seen from a 1915 review in The Rudder magazine: “In performance, the boats have fully come up to their requirements. They have shown themselves able, stiff and seaworthy, they take sound waves without plunging or “slapping”. In speed they have been an agreeable surprise, for in a series of Interclass races pitted against boats designed by Herreshoff and Lawley they stood up for themselves, winning in all sea and wind conditions.”