J. Stephens, II (1908 - 2008)
Olin J. Stephens shares the record with Nat Herreshoff
of designing six America's Cup defenders. Largely
self-taught, he started his career by designing several
successful daysailers, then built DORADE, with which
he and his brother Rod won the 1931 trans-Atlantic
race by two days.
Olin and Rod got their first taste of America's Cup
racing in 1934, an experience that was of great help
later in perfecting their designs. In 1937, Olin and
Starling Burgess designed RANGER, the last J-boat
to defend the America's Cup. She was also the first
defender since VOLUNTEER IN 1887 not to be built by
the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.
RANGER was huge and powerful, easily defeating ENDEAVOUR
in four straight races. She won thirty-two of thirty-four
races by an average of 7 minutes. Olin Stephens served
as tactician on RANGER while his brother Rod was deck
boss. The fact that they were crack sailors helped
them immeasurably when they joined with Drake Sparkman
to form Sparkman & Stephens.
Recognizing the end of the J-boat era, Vanderbilt
commissioned S&S to design his first 12-Meter
yacht in 1939. With the aid of the newly-installed
model-test tank at Stevens Institute in Hoboken, N.J.,
Stephens designed VIM, a boat that won 21 of her 27
starts against the best of the International 12-Meter
fleet in 1939. Nineteen years later, VIM gave COLUMBIA,
another Stephens designed 12-Meter, all it could handle
before losing the final America's Cup trials series
by only 12 seconds. The average winning margin in
the VIM-COLUMBIA series, called the best set of match
races ever sailed, was only thirty-two seconds.
Olin Stephens later became the designer of practically
all of the 12-Meter America's Cup defenders, including
COLUMBIA, CONSTELLATION, INTREPID, COURAGEOUS and
FREEDOM. The most noted yacht designer of his era,
his boats are winners throughout the world.