Mark Soverel, 1949-2002

Boatbuilder, designer, and top-notch helmsman

John Glynn

An accomplished raceboat designer and sailor, Mark Soverel, died at the age of 52 on January 3, from cancer. The Soverel name is attached to many designs because Mark’s father, the late Bill Soverel, built boats in his North Palm Beach, Fla. boatyard, Soverel Marine and affixed the Soverel name to them. Among the designs attributed to Mark Soverel where the Soverel 26, a MORC winner, the Soverel 33, an ultralight production-racer, the one-tonner Moody Blue, the 39-foot Volition, and possibly the most famous Soverel design, the 43-foot Locura, which represented the United States at the Admiral’s Cup in 1983.

As a creative designer who pushed the envelope of performance rules and engineering, Soverel once proclaimed, "we build em light to win races, not save lives." He ushered in the sport boat genre with the open stern and unique 15/16 fractional rig on the S-33. As a race driver, he was a Grand-Prix level helmsman. Peter Isler, who sailed on Locura during that time, once called Soverel, "the best downwind driver" he’d ever met. Mark Soverel possessed an intuitive feel for speed, perhaps from his early love of surfing. On downwind driving Soverel remarked, "just stick the pointy end in the nearest hole and then find the next hole--don’t worry about the sails."

Soverel transitioned into a career as a residential land developer after the recession in the boatbuilding industry in the 1980s. Typical of his wit upon finding himself in a real-estate industry in recession, Soverel was heard to quip, "It’s not a good idea to jump off a cliff without a really good parachute." His wife Judy and son Brett, two brothers Doug and Peter, and sister Anne survive Soverel.

There were several Locuras, all owned by George deGuurdiola and Ricardo Vadia, designed by Soverel, but the most famous represented the U.S. at the Admirals Cup in 1983. The photo at right shows the Locura crew on at the Sailfish Club during the 1983 SORC. Standing left to right in the photo are Augie Diaz, Paul Ayase, John Heineman, George deGuardiola, Tom Whidden, Ben Mitchell, Tom Garrett, and Mark Soverel. Seated left to right are Mike Alexander, Peter Isler, Tom Lihan and Bryson Hall.