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The Presto design was developed by Commodore Munroe in the 1880s on the US Atlantic Coast. The boats sailed up and down the coast some distance offshore and were confronted by the frontal weather systems and the influence of the Gulf Stream found in that part of the world.
The first time I came across the lines of the Presto was when an old friend pulled out a dusty set of large wooden moulds he had once built from lines lofted on the floor of his shed. I was immediately intrigued by the flare in the sides and the flat bottom. Sadly, the project never progressed further and some years later he passed away.
When I saw the lines above at the time of my first visit to New Zealand, I was fascinated. It is one of the few hulls I have ever seen that was so obviously designed by a highly experienced seaman for seamen. Nothing else came in the way. All the design decisions made come together consistently, there is not a hint of design trends, beliefs or conformism perspiring through.
It was a revolutionary design in 1885 and it took over 80 years before yacht hull design as a discipline started just edging closer to it, increasing beam and reducing hull depth. It took another 20 years almost until we saw broader aft sections appearing on displacement vessels, finally letting go senseless shapes and beliefs that had originated from Scandinavian lifeboats.
Today, one should check the fore-and-aft volume distribution achieved and – if needed – correct it based on what we have since learned about hull hydrodynamics and wave-making resistance, but the general shape of the sections is still just as perfect for the displacement achieved. It demonstrates an outstanding grasp of stability and hull shape versus seakeeping characteristics. I never imported the Presto lines into 3D CAD – no doubt many others have; it would be quite interesting to see what comes out.
There are a few modern and “damaged” versions of the Presto hull around, a case of name-recycling for marketing purposes. They seem to have a different waterline beam-to-hull depth ratio, a different relative displacement and they are just different boats.