Most naval architects would be happy if just one of their yacht designs was considered a true classic. Yet the quiet, bespectacled Olin Stephens (1908-2008) drew the lines for scores of boats that sailors all know as pinnacle achievements of the art.
Among the most famous Stephens creations are Ranger, the majestic J-classer co-designed with W. Starling Burgess that left all America’s Cup competitors miles behind; Finisterre, the three-time winner of the Bermuda race; Vim and Intrepid, both breakthrough 12-metre designs that proved close to unbeatable in their eras; Running Tide, the powerful sloop that has most probably won more trophies than any other ocean racer.
But it was the first of Stephens’ offshore designs, Dorade, which set the benchmark of excellence for the Sparkman & Stephens studio, and still helps define that company’s trademark style. Commissioned by his father, Rod Snr., the slim-hipped yawl was S&S Design #7, created in 1929 by the unqualified draftsman when he was just 21 years old. Perhaps the most famous of all classic ocean racers, Dorade has now come ‘Down Under’ for the Australian season and will be the guest of honour on Gaffers Day at the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club on Mosman Bay this October.
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