Sparkman & Stephens

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Sparkman & Stephens
Industry Naval Architecture
Founded 1929 (1929)
Headquarters New York, NY
Key people
Olin J. Stephens
Roderick "Rod" Stephens
Products Sail and Power Yacht Design

Sparkman & Stephens is a naval architecture and yacht brokerage firm with offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Newport, Rhode Island, USA. The firm performs design and engineering of new and existing vessels for pleasure, commercial, and military use. Sparkman & Stephens also acts as a yacht and ship brokerage. The firm offers similar design and engineering services for the performance optimization of existing yachts.

Their designs have won most of the major international yacht races such as the America's Cup, for several decades, including a string of victories in the Fastnet and Sydney to Hobart as well as winning twice the Whitbread Round the World Race by Sayula II in 1974 and Flyer in 1978. S&S has a number of custom yacht design projects as well as being designers for boat builders such as Nautor's Swan, Grand Banks Yachts, and Morris Yachts. With more than 100 units built, the S&S design #1710 also known as Swan 36 became the most utilized design in the history of Sparkman & Stephens.[1]

During World War II the company was employed to design the hulls for the invaluable DUKW 'army duck' and the Ford GPA amphibious jeep. For this Roderick Stephens was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.


Sparkman & Stephens Inc was formally created on November 11, 1929, with five partners: Drake Sparkman and his younger brother James Sparkman, James Murray, and brothers Olin J. Stephens and Roderick Stephens.

The Stephens brothers began their careers as self-taught sailors on Barnstable Bay, Massachusetts. Both entered the marine industry at an early age – Olin apprenticing in yacht design under Philip Rhodes, and Roderick learning shipbuilding at the prominent Nevins Yard in City Island, New York, which would later produce several of his firm's designs.[2] With their father's backing, the 21-year-old Olin and his brother entered into a partnership with the already successful yacht broker Drake Sparkman, and Sparkman & Stephens, Inc. was formed.

Months after opening for business, the financial crisis of the Great Depression swept the global market. In spite of this, the Stephens' father ordered a design for a racing yacht from the young firm – a yacht named Dorade. As her first major test, Dorade won the much-publicized 1931 Trans-Atlantic Race. That victory launched the design reputation of Sparkman & Stephens – and set a course for the firm that would last more than half a century.

Together Olin and Roderick Stephens formed a team that had a major worldwide influence in yacht design, creating racing and cruising designs that helped to popularize the sport. Since the establishment of Sparkman & Stephens, the firm has completed over 2750 designs and related assignments in the pleasure, commercial and military sectors. The company is organized into two departments, one focused on design, naval architecture and marine engineering and the other handling the brokerage, chartering, and insurance of yachts.

Sparkman & Stephens today[edit]

S&S remains involved in designs having created a range of production sailing yachts such as the Morris 36 and 52 and a number of custom super-sailers including Victoria of Strathern and the 52-meter ketch Nazenin V, recently nominated for a Superyacht Award.

The brokers at Sparkman & Stephens represent over 800 crewed charter yachts worldwide in both sail and power, from 55 to 200 + ft.

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