Exquisite Traditional Beauty Meets Modern Design And Performance
Sail Magazine 2013 Best Boat Winner
The Sparkman Stephens 30 was originated in 1935 by Olin Stephens and his design number 97 called “BABE”. BABE had a very successful race career in FL and was a design ahead of her time with a long water line, plumb bow and aggressive sail plan.
In 2005 Olin was asked what was one of his favorite designs he would like to bring back and he immediately chose design 97, called BABE.
Over five years, the S&S design team worked on all of the details to reintroduce the S&S 30 with a new underbody, modern construction methods and materials and worked hard to reach a budget goal that Olin had requested.
Everyone who has sailed the new BABE has remarked how easy she is to handle, stable, dry and fun to sail. You can consider older designs such as the Alerion, or the expensive Morris 29 or Morris 36, or a respectable J95 or J100, but once you test sail the S&S 30 you will notice the immediate benefits and advantages consistent with a true pedigree from one of the best yacht designers the world has know, Olin Stephens.
Stiff and nicely appointed the S&S 30 is the perfect boat for spirited day sails and overnights around the bay.
1070 Marina Village Parkway, Suite # 101A
Alameda, CA 94501
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Harking back to one of Olin Stephens’s well-known designs from 1935, the pretty S&S 30 is nevertheless a very modern boat. Like the original, a 30-footer named Babe, it was built for coastal racing and daysailing, although in Babe’s day “coastal” included racing overnight the 150 miles from Florida to Nassau in the Bahamas. This sweet 30-footer is equally capable of satisfying the desires of many different types of sailors.
It was a blustery day when I got to sail the S&S 30—even the launch ride in the harbor threw up a little spray—so we decided a reef was in order before we hoisted the main, which was easily accomplished with the single line reefing system. As soon as we unfurled the jib, the bow paid off and the boat accelerated to an easy 6 knots as we short-tacked out the narrow channel to the harbor entrance. The self-tacking jib let my crew relax while I kept her tracking with just a couple of fingers on the tiller. From the weather side I had excellent visibility—with my hand on the tiller, not a hiking stick—though I had to duck to leeward to see behind the jib.
The perfectly balanced spade rudder provided excellent feedback and even when we were roaring along on a reach, the 30 was light and easy to control. The traveler control and six-part-purchase mainsheet were close at hand in case a puff warranted a little ease to keep the rail dry.
Belowdecks, the simple Herreshoff-style interior provides an attractive space to seek shelter when the weather makes life less pleasant outside. The V-berth forward is surprisingly airy and comfortable. Moving aft, the head to port is enclosed in translucent Plexiglas opposite a large sink. Long berths port and starboard boast ample sitting headroom, and the seatbacks can be shifted inboard to make comfortable leeboards for sleeping underway. An available option is a drawer abaft the port berth that will house an Origo two-burner stove.
There’s plenty of room to stretch out in the cockpit, with a large area atop the lazarette aft. The jib sheet and furling line run under the deck to the cockpit, while a winch near the companionway hatch handles halyards and reefing lines. Belowdeck headsail furling keeps the foredeck clear. Under power, the well-insulated Yanmar diesel with saildrive pushed the S&S 30 along at 6.5 knots at 2,500 rpm with no fuss. The slender hull maxed out at 7.6 knots when I pushed the throttle to 3,600.
A final note: The day before completing this review, as I was doing race committee for our Laser frostbite fleet, I watched as the Sparkman & Stephens 30 quickly ghosted along with hardly a ripple of wake to remind us of its passage. After my breezy test sail, it’s obvious the boat will reward its owner with good all-around performance, as befits its lineage.
Hand-laid E Glass in vinylester resin sandwiches a polymer foam core in both the hull and the deck. To avoid crushing the core and for strength, the through-hulls and deck hardware are fastened through solid glass. Along the center-line the hull is also solid glass. A molded liner drops in for interior stiffeners, and the external lead keel is bolted to a short sump, which gives bilge water a place to go rather than sloshing around in the accommodations.
1070 Marina Village Parkway
Suite # 101A
Alameda, CA 94501