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Just Launched: A True Babe

Back in 1935, the young Olin Stephens designed a 30-foot sloop called Babe. It was design #97 from his prolific pen, crafted to the rules of the Miami-Nassau race. Stephens drew a hull with a fairly plumb bow and squared-off stern, not at all in keeping with the ‘30s fashion of long overhangs on a short waterline.

Back in 1935, the young Olin Stephens designed a 30-foot sloop called Babe. It was design #97 from his prolific pen, crafted to the rules of the Miami-Nassau race. Stephens drew a hull with a fairly plumb bow and squared-off stern, not at all in keeping with the ‘30s fashion of long overhangs on a short waterline. A powerful rig, simple but adequate accommodations, and the basic systems of the day made for an uncomplicated, appealing—and fast—boat. It was one of Stephens’s favorite designs.

More than 70 years later, shortly before his death in 2008, Stephens took another look at the Babe concept. The veteran designer wanted to revisit the idea of a simple, beautiful daysailer/weekender/racer, in which sailing ability took precedence over anything else. His sketches showed a classic daysailer in the modern idiom, with pretty traditional lines above the waterline and a shallow canoe body with deep foils below.

S&S designer Daniela Abbott worked with Stephens on the project, sending him drawings for revision and comment, until the great man passed away at the age of 100. The first iteration of the reborn Babe was a one-off boat to be built in wood, but last year the S&S team developed a version for fiberglass construction.

New England-based Bluenose Yachts is now taking orders for the reborn Babe. Known as the S&S 30, the boat will have basic accommodations and a generous sailplan that, combined with its light displacement, should provide exciting sailing at a reasonable cost. I expect the Master would approve.

Over the last year, Morris Yachts has been busy building a line of 44-foot training boats to replace the Coast Guard’s aging Luders 44 yawls. These new David Pedrick-designed sloops are no clunkers. Though it needs to be as tough as nails to survive the none-too-tender ministrations of greenhorn cadets, the Leadership 44 also represents a step up in performance. Its displacement/length and sail area/displacement ratios—200 and 25 respectively—are more suggestive of a cruiser-racer than a heavyweight sail trainer.

Eight of the 44s were built during 2011, and given the boat’s performance numbers it’s not surprising that Morris decided to adapt the design to “civilian” use. This was easily accomplished, with some minor changes to the deck and cockpit layout, and some major ones to the accommodations. With no need to cram in eight cadets, a more traditional six-berth layout—two in the saloon, two in the forward cabin, two more in a cozy quarter cabin—makes the most of the interior volume. At 13 feet, beam is modest by today’s standards. Overall, this looks a well-balanced hull form.

A double-spreader fractional rig provides motive power, and sail-handling lines are led aft. The deck and cockpit layout owe nothing at all to fashion and everything to practicality. Morris surmises—correctly, I think—that sailors interested in such a boat will be immune to the allure of cutting-edge styling, instead appreciating the timeless commonsense approach that prevails throughout the Lc44.

Not everyone wants to go bluewater cruising, and part of the allure of sailing is that it’s not size-dependent—you can have big adventures on small boats such as the Sage 17, a newcomer from Sage Marine, based in Golden, Colorado.

This pocket cruiser is from the board of Jerry Montgomery, a veteran designer/builder who has produced hundreds of dinghies and trailersailers ranging from in size from 10 to 23 feet. Its lapstrake hull and springy sheerline give the Sage 17 a jaunty look, and its fractional rig can be stepped or lowered by one person.

Some 500 pounds of encapsulated lead ballast are spread between the stub keel and the centerboard, which should keep this 1,300lb boat on its feet—though positive flotation is an option. Draft is 3ft 6in board down, 1ft 9in board up. Construction is hand-laid fiberglass, with carbon fiber used in the deck and transom to helpkeep weight down. Below, there are snug quarters for two.

Easy to trail, easy to sail, easy on the wallet and easy on the eye, the Sage 17 is a welcome addition to the pocket-cruiser niche. 

sparkmanstephens.com

morrisyachts.com

sagemarine.us

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