Boats

Sparkman & Stephens 30

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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.

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 centerline 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.

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.

Specifications

HEADROOM 4ft 9in // BERTHS 6ft 4in x 6ft 8in

LOA 30ft 6in // LWL 27ft 6in

BEAM 8ft 3in // DRAFT 5ft 6in

DISPLACEMENT 5,640lb // BALLAST 2,400lb

SAIL AREA 460ft2

FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL) 13/12/9

ENGINE Yanmar 2YM15xSD20

ELECTRICAL 55AH (house); 55AH (engine)

DESIGNER Sparkman & Stephens

BUILDER C & C Fiberglass Components Inc.

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Bluenose Yacht Sales, Newport, RI, 877-695-6538

PRICE $159,000 (including sails)

Photos courtesy of Bluenose Yacht Sales

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