Sparkman & Stephens “Sonny”

Sail Number: 50

Type: Cruiser/ Racer to CCA rule

“Sonny” Specifications:

LOA: 53′ 6″
LWL: 39′ 0″
Beam: 12′ 6″
Draft: 7′ 7″
Design Number: 94
Rig: Sloop
Displacement: 46,774 lbs
Sail Area:
Sail Number:
Designer: Sparkman & Stephens
Built By: Jacob’s Shipyard, City Island, NY
Original Owner: Albert D. Phelps, Connecticut
Current Owner: Joe Dockery
Launched: 1935



Sparkman & Stephens has designed many ‘classics’. While embracing the bloodline of Dorade and Stormy Weather, Sonny has benefited enormously from loving care extended by eight owners bent on preserving her originality. We remain in communication with the son of the gentleman who commissioned her build and also the son of the gentleman who owned her from 1957 through 1992.

Commissioned by Albert D. Phelps of Connecticut, design number 94 was built by Jacob’s Shipyard on City Island New York, launched and christened Sonny in the spring of 1935. Sold and re-named Gladja she was commissioned for service during World War II. She foundered after colliding with submarine off Nassau but repaired quickly and placed back in to service.

She was sold to Albert E. Peirce, owner of the 172’ square foretopsail schooner Cressida who re-named her Sonny. Ownership was transferred to George T. Bowdoin of Seawanaka Corinthian Yacht Club who cruised and raced her from New York to Maine. In 1957 Van Dorn C. Smith purchased her and while maintaining a similar sailing program for the next thirty years. During that period, the Smith family was fastidious with her upkeep and devotion to maintaining the condition of original equipment, fittings and inventory.

Following a short, intervening owner-ship in the late 90s, a gentleman from Germany became the owner in 2001. He shipped her to Cantiere del Navale Argentario for major refurbishing. She was re-planked below the water line, the stem was replaced, a new keel attached and the horn timber replaced, thereby correcting the ‘quick’ repair done after her foundering during WW II. Following this major work she was raced successfully in the Mediterranean for the next few years winning in Argentario, Antibes, Cannes and St. Tropez.

Sonny was returned home to US waters in 2007 by her current owner and sailed for one season prior to continuing her detailed maintenance and improvements. East Passage Boatwrights of Bristol, RI has performed extensive work including re-fastening the topsides, replacing any remaining original frames and stiffened her extensively at the mast partners. Her worm gear steering was replaced with a quadrant and wire cable and the bottle screw/lever back adjustment replaced with a purchase system. Any original equipment and fittings removed from Sonny are marked clearly and placed in safe storage.

The sail inventory is continually updated and with only slight modifications, her original 1935 Sitka Spruce rig is still contributing to the performance of this beautiful vessel the way Olin Stephens intended.

In addition to her regular maintenance over the winter of 2014/15 the 1-1/2” laid teak deck, was re-fastened and re-caulked. The topsides are in perfect condition, the varnish maintained to perfection. Sonny carries the most detailed maintenance records I have seen on a boat of this vintage; in fact they are more in line with the log books one would find accompanying a highly valued vintage airplane.

Sonny had a very successful season of racing in 2014 including class wins in the Annual New York Yacht Club Regatta along with class and overall victories in the Museum of Yachting Classic Regatta.

She commenced the 2016 season by finishing second in her class in the Leukemia Cup Regatta in June followed by a second place finish in her class at the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta held in Newport, RI. From there she cruised up the New England coastline to compete in the Maine Series where she placed first overall in the Castine-Camden Race, sixth in class in the Camden-Brooklin Race (carrying a 25% performance rating penalty) and second in class in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (carrying a 25% performance rating penalty). She concluded the season with a second in class finish back in Newport, RI at the IYRS Museum of Yachting Classic Regatta in September.



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