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Rod Stephens

The consumate crew

April 24, 2002
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Courtesy Of The Herreshoff Museum

“Rod was the complete seaman in his understanding of the sea and boats and the relation between the two,” writes brother Olin Stephens in his book All This and Sailing, Too. It’s an apt description of a man who knew and enjoyed the mechanics of sailing as much as the act itself and took such pride in the boats that Sparkman & Stephens produced.

Rod (1909-1995) was already a consummate sailor when he took time off from a job at Nevins boatyard to supervise the construction of Dorade, the first of a long line of successful S&S; designs. In 1935 he joined S&S; full time and was as an integral part of the dynamic that made the design firm such a powerhouse for so long. His knowledge of rigging, his interest in engineering, and his ability to make the parts work together made him the perfect foil for Olin.

His racing history is an enviable one, beginning with a transatlantic win in 1931 on Dorade and including many winning Cup defenders including Ranger, Columbia, and Constellation, which he helped bring back from the dead during the defender trials.

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