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Sparkman & Stephens 53 ft Sloop 1935/2012 - Sold



Sparkman & Stephens 53 ft Sloop 1935/2012

Designer Sparkman & Stephens
Builder Robert Jacob, City Island, New York
Date 1935
Length overall 53 ft 6 in / 16.31 m
Length deck 53 ft 0 in / 16.15 m
Length waterline 39 ft 6 in / 12.04 m
Beam 12 ft 5 in / 3.78 m
Draft 8 ft 0 in / 2.44 m
Displacement 23 Tonnes
Construction Mahogany on white oak
Engine Yanmar 3JH40 3-Cylinder 40 hp Diesel
Location USA
Price Sold

These details are provisional and may be amended




One of the most sought-after of books on the designs of Sparkman & Stephens is titled ‘The Best of the Best’. Undoubtedly, SONNY is one: a fabulous example from the heady 1930s, when the focused minds of two New Yorkers only in their 20s, Olin and Rod Stephens, rapidly evolved the fast, efficient, yet comfortable moderate displacement offshore sailing yacht to a point where it couldn’t be bettered. For the past 25 years this has been celebrated in revival and restoration, particularly of the handy-sized 50+ feet cousins of STORMY WEATHER. SONNY’s treatment, care and regatta success both sides of the Atlantic over 20 years has been the best of the best. That, and her story, abilities, and sheer good looks make SONNY such an enticing prospect.




Buzzards Bay Yacht Services, Mattapoisett, MA, USA
- Galley rebuilt
- Originality maintained wherever possible
- Isotherm refrigeration system; icebox rebuilt
- Force 10 propane stove installed
- AC & 12 V DC systems rewired
- Structural frame added around mast step

East Passage Boatwrights, Bristol, RI, USA
- Deck re-fastened and re-caulked

East Passage Boatwrights, Bristol, RI, USA
- Aft third of hull reframed in laminated oak
- Silicon bronze screw and copper rivet fastened
- Edson quadrant and wire cable steering replacing worm drive

East Passage Boatwrights, Bristol, RI, USA
- 20 x New white oak steamed timbers
- Hull refastened
- Mast partner truss rebuilt in bronze
- Standing backstay to purchase from bottle screw lever

Cantiere Navalle dell'Argentario, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy
- New stem; new horn timber Everdur fastened
- New keelson, everdur fastened
- Bottom 8 planks replaced
- 70% Topsides planking replaced
- Majority of frames replaced
- Whole hull bronze refastened
- Lead ballast keel dropped and re-bolted
- New teak deck
- Deck structures restored
- Accommodation restoration in Butternut




"... a type that should gladden the hearts of those who go down to the sea in such small ships" - Uffa Fox

John G. Alden wasn’t jesting in his often-quoted statement on first sighting STORMY WEATHER on Henry B. Nevins’s City Island, New York slipway in 1934: “In my opinion, a better design would be impossible to achieve.”

Moving forward from lessons learned with the in some ways unlikely phenomenon that was DORADE, in combining ocean-going experience with intuition and science - eventually in tank testing - through the 1930s Olin and Rod Stephens rapidly developed the moderate displacement, keel attached rudder hull form to a point where it could barely be improved, starting most famously with STORMY WEATHER, and then her 50+ footer cousins, including EDLU, SANTANA, AVANTI, SONNY, ZEEAREND, VRYLING (now SKYLARK), ATALANTA, BLITZEN… and more (we’ve only reached 1937).

These post-STORMY WEATHER Sparkman & Stephens racer-cruiser designs were variations on the theme, their underbodies tweaked here are there depending on what they were intended to do, what rig they would carry, and where they would sail. The next big jump wouldn’t come for 30 years with the mid 60’s separation of rudder from keel.

The successes of DORADE (Design #7) and STORMY WEATHER (#27) and their offspring quickly brought commissions for more of the same to the still fledgling Manhattan design office, to such an extent that when Bronx real estate developer Albert D. Phelps came to commission SONNY less than a year after STORMY WEATHER’s launch, she would already be Design #94.

Phelps was replacing an earlier SONNY, also built by Robert Jacobs, a pretty 49 ft Ford, Payne & Sweisguth-designed schooner; perhaps planning to improve his chances of success in the then ever increasing number of US offshore races.

In the February 1936 Miami-Nassau Race, fresh from his 1934-35 triumphs with STORMY WEATHER, Rod Stephens skippered SONNY to 2nd in Class B, losing out to Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club Commodore J. Wesley Pape's 52ft Starling Burgess-designed 'Ninette' schooner SAN CRISTOBAL II, a smaller cousin of the legendary NIÑA.

But Phelps didn’t keep SONNY for long. By January 1937 she’d been sold to fabulously successful Warrenton, Virginia gentleman farmer Colonel Albert E. Peirce; perhaps a more dedicated racer than Phelps. Peirce was the first owner from 1936 of the S&S-designed New York 32 #6 SPINDRIFT (now FALCON), while also owning from 1931-1937 the German-built steel 172 ft topsail schooner CRESSIDA (now YANKEE CLIPPER) – quite a mothership.

In 1937 and 1938 SONNY again raced Miami to Nassau, finishing 2nd to STORMY WEATHER in the very windy 1938 edition in which one boat sank and many retired. Also in 1938, she finished 2nd in the St Petersburg-Havana Race to her smaller S&S cousin the 32 ft lwl, 44 ft loa sloop STARLIGHT, always incredibly well sailed by Texan, Albert B. Fay. SONNY also took part in that year’s Newport-Bermuda Race.

At some point SONNY’s name changed to GLADJA and she found herself on Second World War service - presumably as part of the US Coastguard Auxiliary 'Corsair Fleet'. At Nassau she apparently sank and was raised and repaired after a collision with a submarine.

Post-Word War Two, a couple of long and caring ownerships through to the early 1990s ensured this wonderful yacht deservedly survived into the 'classic yacht revival' era.

From about 1945, renamed ASTREA, ownership transferred to one of the bastions of both New York City’s financial world and the philanthropic funding of America’s Cup defence campaigns, George T. Bowdoin of Oyster Bay’s Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. Along with George Nichols, J.P. Morgan Jr, Cornelius Vanderbilt and others, Bowdoin had been a ‘Morgan Syndicate’ member supporting the prospective Clinton Crane-designed J-Class 1930 Cup defender WEETAMOE. And he would return to the fray in 1964 as a leading member of the successful S&S 12-Metre CONSTELLATION Cup defence syndicate.

In Bowdoin’s ownership until 1957, ASTREA was a familiar sight on the post-war Long Island Sound to Maine cruising and racing circuit, and this continued, renamed AKKA, from 1957 with Van Dorn “Jack” Smith and family of Port Washington, NY and later Woods Hole who loved her until his death in 1990 aged 95.

In 1993 she was purchased, beautifully original but by this time in need of much work, by a Dutch furniture maker who also collected the S&S Loki class yawl PANGUR BAN, and the 1957 S&S 52ft yawl MAH JONG with a view to restoring them for profit. After this didn’t work out, AKKA lay deteriorating at Rockport, Maine, for many years until rescued in 2001 by the Italian Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario on behalf of German merchant banker and classic yacht enthusiast Wilhelm von Finck, owner of the series of four BORKUMRIFF schooners, and at that time the John G. Alden 50ft sloop WHITEWINGS.

Led by enigmatic American yacht design enthusiast Federico Nardi, the Tuscan yard had from the mid-1990s been building a reputation for the authentic restoration of a growing list of significant American classics, then somehow forsaken in their homeland (it's certainly no longer the case), including the S&S trio of 1938 Nevins-built 12-Metre NYALA, DORADE and STORMY WEATHER.

SONNY was a natural progression. The restoration majored on authenticity and giving her a chance to perform well under the Mediterranean CIM Rule. On her early summer 2002 re-launch SONNY didn’t disappoint, both aesthetically and on the race course, with her then 94-year-old designer joining in for early sails, including a class win in her first regatta for decades at Porto Santo Stefano.

After Wilhelm von Finck's death at 79 in 2003, his family kept SONNY until 2007 when she returned to American ownership and waters with Sparkman & Stephens enthusiast Joe Dockery, who soon also became owner of another of the 50+ feet cousins, SKYLARK. Under his ownership, and since 2017 with her present owners, SONNY has enjoyed the best of attention in maintenance and refit/ restoration, detailed elsewhere here; and of course in use - a mean machine on the east coast classic circuit - which these creatures quite rightly deserve, and give back such pleasure in return.

Over the past fifteen or so years there has become a transatlantic equilibrium of activity in the restoration, sailing and racing of these fabulous products of different times and young genius, with for example, DORADE and SONNY going back west and enjoying further restoration and refit and classic racing among peers, and SKYLARK and others shipping east. One imagines there will never be another time when such practical works of art would be allowed to go to seed, with such opportunities for use and care again so healthily abundant - which makes ownership of a special yacht like SONNY such an enticing prospect.

©2024 Iain McAllister/ Sandeman Yacht Company Ltd



SONNY’s profile and deckplan, which are almost identical to STORMY WEATHER have led many to confuse her as a sistership, but in fact she is quite different, as careful study of the lines plan will show. SONNY represents a further step away from the DORADE prototype which was quite narrow gutted. SONNY’s entry and fore section is almost identical to STORMY with similar deadrise and triangular underbody and lateral profile. However from the midship section the after body has greater volume and immersion, making for a more powerful hull and probably greater volume and displacement.



- 3rd in Vintage Class, Eggemoggin Reach Regatta
- 3rd in Vintage Class, Castine to Camden Race

- 3rd NYYC Annual Regatta Round the Island
- 3rd NYYC Annual Regatta
- 2nd Boothbay Classic Regatta

- 1st NYYC Annual Regatta Round the Island
- 3rd NYYC Annual Regatta
- 1st Vineyard Cup
- 1st Camden Classic Cup
- 2nd Corinthian Classic Regatta Marblehead
- 3rd Nantucket Race Week
- 2nd Herreshoff Classic Regatta
- 1st Newport Classic Yacht Regatta

- 1st NYYC Annual regatta Round the Island
- 1st NYYC Annual Regatta
- 1st Camden Classic Cup
- 1st Eggemoggin Reach Regatta
- 1st Corinthian Classic Regatta Marblehead
- 1st Nantucket Race Week
- 1st Herreshoff Classic Regatta
- 2nd Newport Classic Yacht Regatta
- 2nd Overall, Panerai Classic Series

- 2nd Martha's Vineyard Vineyard Cup
- 2nd Nantucket Race Week
- 1st Newport Classic Yacht Regatta
- 2nd Overall, Panerai Classic Series



- Mahogany planking on oak frame
- Bronze screw and copper rivet fastened
- Lead ballast keel bronze fastened
- Teak laid deck direct to deck beams
- Teak deck carpentry



- Teak laid deck
- Varnished teak superstructure
- White painted covering boards and inner bulwark
- Varnished teak capping rails and taffrail
- Bronze guardrail stanchions

- Bronze ensign staff and passarelle sockets at taffrail
- Bronze raised mushroom vent
- Bronze Panama fairleads port and starboard
- Bronze mainsheet padeye and ash block
- Bronze-legged boom crutch

- Well type; continuation of deck as seating
- Low profile raised coamings
- Samson posts with bronze pins aft port and starboard
- Varnished hatch access to emergency fuel shut off and exhaust valve
- Kelvin-White helm pedestal and binnacle
- Kelvin white steering compass
- Traditional ship’s wheel; raw teak rim
- Flush bronze framed hatch to 'garage' with deadlight at bridge deck
- Bronze self-tailing Harken winches on varnished teak plinths
- 2 x 60-3ST 3-speed primaries (2013)
- 2 x 44-2ST 2-speed for runners (2013)
Under cockpit lazarette - access to
- Steering access
- Exhaust lift muffler
- Fuel storage
- Vented propane locker

- 1 x Harken bronze 60-2 2-speed self-tailing mainsheet winch (2013)
- 2 x Barlow bronze 25 non-self tailing spinnaker sheet winches
- Unglazed hatch over owner cabin to port
- Bronze mainsheet padeye and ash block
- Butterfly skylight central over owner cabin
- Sliding companionway hatch offset to starboard
- Bronze hatch garage
- Varnished grabrails port and starboard
- Dorade boxes and cowl vents immediately fwd port and starboard

- Bronze running backstay padeyes and ash blocks port and starboard
- Bronze headsail track and cars at rail port and starboard
- Bronze padeye sockets port and starboard
- Deck prisms over chart table and WC
- Belaying pins port and starboard at chainplates rail extension

- Butterfly skylight hatch over saloon
- Deck prisms port and starboard over saloon

- Bronze purchase hooks in deck port and starboard
- Wood pinrail with bronze pins
- Instruments display

- Butterfly skylight hatch over galley
- Dorade boxes and cowl vents to port and starboard
- Forehatch with deadlight over forepeak
- Spinnaker pole stowage to starboard
- Bronze manual anchor rode windlass
- Bronze mooring cleat
- Bronze inner forestay fitting
- Bronze Panama fairleads port and starboard

- 1 x Large Danforth used only for overnight anchoring
- Padded cover for stowing
- 30 ft / 9 m chain; 100 ft / 30 m rode
- 1 x Small 'day hook'; 20 ft / 6 m chain 100 ft / 30 m rope



- Butternut carpentry forward to saloon
- Oiled teak sole boards

- Handrail
- Deckhead light

- Full size with drawers and locker under
- Signal flag pockets outboard
- Lockers over containing modern instrumentation & comms
- Vessel's electrical breaker panel
- Opening port
- Deckhead light
- Deck prism
- 'Gun' locker fwd with fiddled shelf over
- Tool storage; hanging tool organizer
- Access to some B&G components

- Mahogany carpentry
- Berths to port and starboard
- Stowage under
- Banquets inboard to port and starboard
- Door to lazarette aft to port
- Chest of drawers/ sideboard with mirror aft
- Bookshelf stbd aft
- Hanging locker fwd to port; fiddled shelf over
- Butterfly skylight in trunk cabin roof
- Unglazed hatch in trunk cabin roof
- 4 x Opening ports
- 2 x Bulkhead lamps
- 1 x Deckhead light

- Baby Blake toilet (2023)
- Lockers and shelves outboard
- Ceramic sink
- Pressure cold water tap (2023)
- Y-valve for pipe attachment (2023)
- 2 x Opening ports
- Bulkhead mounted lamp

- Butternut carpentry
- Settee to starboard
- Stowage under
- Pilot berth outboard
- Stowage under
- Sideboard with drawers under fwd starboard
- Locker outboard
- L-shaped settee to port
- Stowage under
- Pilot berth outboard
- Stowage under
- Locker port forward
- Hull side slatting to port and starboard
- Butterfly skylight in deckhead
- 2 x Deckhead grabrails
- Bulkhead lamps
- 2 x Deckhead lights
- Deck prisms port and starboard

- White painted finish except for countertop
To port
- 3 x Burner Force 10 propane stove with oven
- Sink with foot pump fawcet
- Drawers under; lockers under and outboard
- Plate/ cup racks outboard
To starboard
- Isotherm refrigeration system
- Remote compressor in forepeak
- Cold plate in 2 in / 50 mm R40 insulated ice box to starboard
- Butternut countertop
- Lockers under and outboard
In deckhead
- Butterfly skylight
- 2 x Deckhead lights

- Dedicated to sails and equipment stowage
- 1 x Pipe cot
- Forehatch with deadlight in deckhead
- Deckhead light



- Original hollow spruce mast
- Fwd mast track set up for dip-pole gybing
- Lewmar bronze main halyard winch
- Harken bronze 44-2 ST Jib halyard winch
- Harken bronze 44-2 ST Spinnaker halyard winch
- Lewmar bronze 40-2 ST Topping lift winch
- Original boom
- 3 x Merriman bronze flat handle topping lift winches
- 3 x Merriman bronze flat handle outhaul winches
- Spruce spinnaker pole (2018)
- Spruce jockey pole/ reaching strut
- Wire rigging new 2019

- North racing mainsail (2020)
- Doyle delivery mainsail (cut down to 1st reef (2018)
- Doyle light/ medium genoa (2018, re-cut at head 2023)
- North medium/ heavy genoa (2021)
- Doyle medium/ heavy genoa (2018)
- North #2 Genoa (2018)
- North #3 Jib #3 (20??)
- North 1A spinnaker light (1.0oz) (20??)
- Doyle 1.5A (2018)
- North 2S (1.5oz) (20??)
- Doyle 2S - good (2018)
- North 2S - great (2020)
- North 3A (frac) ok (20??)
- North genoa staysail w. torsion cable, furler set (2023)
- Doyle spinnaker staysail (20??)
- Unknown c. 170 % older light genoa

- Mainsail boom cover with SONNY 1935
- Covers for all hatches



- Yanmar 3JH40 3-Cylinder 40 hp Diesel (2020)
- Located under saloon sole
- Vari Prop 4 blade 16 in feathering
- Aquadrive
- 2 x Cutlass bearings

- 110 V AC Shore power battery charging
- 30 A Main breaker in lazarette
- Solar panels and regulator
- 12 V DC System
- 12 V Carbon foam Firefly batteries under saloon sole (2018)
- 3 x House (parallel)
- 1 x Engine start (2023)

- 40 Gal / 151 L Aluminium fresh water tank with deck fill
- Pressure water pump to WC sink and hose
- Foot pump at galley sink
- 7 Gal / 26 L alloy grey water tank (new pump 2023)
- Y-valve manual discharge connected to emergency bilge pump
- 4 Gal 15 L plastic black water tank
- Separate manual hose for pump out
- Propane tank in lazarette



- Kelvin-White binnacle mounted steering compass

- NMEA 2000 network
- Simrad ethernet network
- Navico (Simrad & B & G) radar
- H5000 (speed and depth)
- Multi function repeaters at chart table and helm
- Masthead wand (2023)

- Simrad RS35 DSC/AIS VHF



- Lifesling MOB system
- Liferaft stowed under bridge deck (Due service 9/2023)
- Flares
- Jack lines
- Bungs
- Bell
- Fire extinguishers
- Bilge alarm
- Float switch
- Emergency tiller



Items in storage
- Turtle hatch for forehatch
- Pasarelle
- Gimballed saloon table
- Galley and forepeak doors



- Sailing: Tyler Fields
- Sailing, moored and on board: John Williams
- Vintage: East Passage Boatworks
- Dressed overall: Tom Young


These particulars have been prepared from information provided by the vendors and are intended as a general guide. The purchaser should confirm details of concern to them by survey or engineers inspection. The purchaser should also ensure that the purchase contract properly reflects their concerns and specifies details on which they wish to rely.


Sandeman Yacht Company

Brokerage Of Classic & Vintage Yachts