Olin Stephens 1908-2008

Olin Stephens turned 100 years old in April of this year. He touched so many lives during his lifetime; mentored many many yacht designers, and brought joy to many many yacht owners. The list of his accomplishments is so very long, as well. He designed 7 America’s Cup defenders, and was involved in several more.

He is pictured with Alan Hanover, the present owner of “Columbia” the 1958 defender. Alan proudly announced in 2000 that he intended to restore “Columbia” to her original shape, adding approximately 4 feet to the stern . Olin responded quietly:”Why would anyone do such a thing?” After the restoration was complete, Olin conceded that the boat really did look better.I sailed with Olin on a number of boats and our lives crossed for other reasons as well as I lofted and built a number of his designs.
Jim McCurdy is pictured with Olin aboard “Carina” one of Jim’s designs, in 1971 in Cowes, England.


Pre-feeder

In 1977 we discussed what would happen if when hoisting the jib it jammed in the pre-feeder. I worked evenings after racing hand making one pre-feeder capable of being opened in the event there was jam. As with so many things once the season was over, I put it away. Preparing for the America’s Cup Jubilee in 2001 the question came up again. I still had my hand made proto-type. Jim Gubelmann, a good friend took an interest in it as a marketable product.

1983 America’s Cup


1983 changed the course of America’s Cup history forever, and with it the fate of Newport. Twenty-five years ago this September, a bittersweet anniversary.

I was not participating , I did go to see the final race aboard a syndicate member’s boat to watch. Liberty did lead 5 of 6 legs, and gained on the last leg.
I went to watch the cup literally be handed to Alan Bond on the terrace of Marble House. The NYYC was gracious in defeat and naturally the Australians were overjoyed. I took the photo of Ben Lexan around 6:30 the next morning, still basking in the afterglow of success.

12 meters

If you have read my blog, you have found entries about past America’s cup programs when the 12 meters were still the boats being raced. The Julibee in 2001 breathed new life into the class. Many older boats being restored and raced.It is because these boats were built to Lloyd’s scantlings that they survived at all.

While a twelve meter is a heavy slow boat by today’s standards, they are thrilling to sail for other reasons, and are about as elegant and graceful as a boat can be.
In Newport there are at least 15 twelve meters. and more than twenty on the East Coast. A regatta can attract enough boat to make a sight, at the same time provide a venue where we “oldtimers” can still look useful and active.Of course it is always an opportunity for old shipmates to re-unite.
An association for north america was formed and a regatta schedule created including an annual championship, and a world championship; all of which I have participated in, winning a few.


VERY COOL BOATS



What do Bill Hubbard, Jimmy Gubelmann, Jack Cummiskey and Stephen Lirakis have in common beyond a love of sailing? Two very cool boats. These are exact one-third scale full sailing models of the IACC class boats that competed for the America’s cup.
Where did they come from? You might notice the BMW/ORACLE logo on the bow.
27 feet long, 4 feet wide, and a draft of 5 feet. displacing 2050 pounds.(1650 pounds are the lead package) All carbon fiber, with six suits of sails. awesome.

1974



1974 was both a Bermuda race year and an America’s cup year. I lofted and built “Courageous” US 26, designed by S&S, the last two time defender of the America’s Cup at Minneford’s Yacht Yard, in City Island,NY.The story really started in 1973.

Sailed the spring races in Long Island Sound on “Weald” a Swan 48 also designed by S&S, followed by the Bermuda Race with a crew, many of whom I still sail with today.(I believe we finished 3rd in class) Of note, our navigator for this race was Chick Larkin, a legend long before he came aboard. Not only a man of tremendous charm, but with a wonderful intuitive sense of where to place the boat on the race course. Remember this is long before GPS or Grib files.
From there I raced my first Chicago-Mackinac Race aboard “Country Woman” a Doug Peterson one tonner.
The reader will start to see a number of threads starting to appear. As many of the people I sailed with re-appear at various times in my history.



america’s cup 1977 Independence



Independence US 28, skippered by Ted Hood. I was the bowman, and responsible for the rig. Conceptually the boat was good but simply not as fast as Courageous. We arrived in Newport with a boat that was just not fast enough. A summer filled with anecdotes of the personalities involved. The last summer of real amateur america’s cup sailing. Turner was unstoppable that year, he won every contest he entered.

It may have been the last year the “America’s cup demitasse” was run. Conceived as a fun event during a layday in the America’s cup summer. Two crew from each boat raced in Dyer Dhows. Turner won, Jobson was second, I came third.