• 53.5'
  • 1935
  • Jacob's Shipyard
  • Newport, Rhode Island, United States
  • $795,000


Rare opportunity to own a piece of yachting history!

A rare and beautiful example of early Olin Stephens designs, still with her original layout and interior. SONNY was launched in 1935 as a cruiser/ racer to the maximum CCA rule limits. 

Very few yachts of this era have been continuously so well loved and maintained. Her condition reflects the continual ‘pursuit of perfection mentality’ of her current owner and his team.

  • Basic Information
  • Dimensions
  • Speed / Weight
  • Accomodations
  • Hull & Deck
  • Engine Information
  • Builder: Jacob's Shipyard
  • Category: Classic Yacht
  • Model: N/A
  • Model Year: 1935
  • YearBuilt: 1935
  • Year Refit: N/A
  • Refit Type: N/A
  • Tax Paid: N/A
  • Country: United States
  • Registration #: N/A
  • Coast Guard #: N/A
  • Vessel Top: N/A
  • Fly Bridge: No
  • Cockpit: No
  • Helipad: No
  • Accomodations: Guest SR/S: 1/6 - Crew R/B/S: 0/0/0
  • LOA: 53' 6" (16.31m)
  • LWL: 40' 0" (12.19m)
  • LOD: --
  • Beam: 12' 6" (3.81m)
  • Min Draft: --
  • Max Draft: 7' 7" (2.31m)
  • Clearance: --
  • MFG Length: --
  • Cruise Speed: 6 Knots
  • Cruise Speed RPM: --
  • Cruise Speed Range: --
  • Max Speed: 8 Knots
  • Max Speed RPM: --
  • Max Speed Range: --
  • Displacement: 49,185 Pounds
  • Gross Tonnage: --
  • Water Capacity: 175 Gallons
  • Holding Tank: 8 Gallons
  • Fuel Capacity: 40 Gallons
  • Fuel Consumption: --
  • Berths: 6
  • Heads: 1
  • Sleeps: 6
  • State Rooms: 1
  • Crew Berths: N/A
  • Crew Sleeps: N/A
  • Crew Heads: N/A
  • Captains Quarters: No
  • Hull ID: N/A
  • Hull Material: Mahogany
  • Deck Material: Teak
  • Hull Configuration: Long Keel
  • Project Manager: N/A
  • Hull Designer: Sparkman & Stephens
  • Hull Color: White
  • Hull Finish: Paint
  • Exterior Designer: N/A
  • Interior Designer: N/A
  • Manufacturer: Yanmar
  • Model: JH3
  • Engine Count: Single
  • Engine Type: Inboard
  • Fuel Type: Diesel


A rare and beautiful example of early Olin Stephens designs, still with her original layout and interior. Launched in 1935 as a cruiser/ racer to the maximum CCA rule limits.

Very few yachts of this era have been continuously so well loved and maintained. Her condition reflects the continual ‘pursuit of perfection mentality’ of her current owner and his team.

Accommodations & Layout

Sleeps six, four in main saloon in transom and pilot berths and two in aft stateroom. The main saloon and aft stateroom are separated by the enclosed head and a work/bench navigation area at the foot of the companionway. There is a large enclosed galley forward of the main saloon. The forepeak was originally fitted out as crew quarters with a separate head folding basin and two berths. It has been converted into a large storage area but could easily be refitted as a cabin for two.

The interior is beautifully constructed with butternut paneled bulkheads, painted overheads and well-fitted joinerwork. The bulkheads in the main saloon, companionway and after stateroom were stripped to bare wood and were repaired and refinished bright. The deck beams throughout and the forward cabin have also been stripped and refinished.  A beautiful gimbaled saloon table with fold down leaves is removable for sailing. Owner’s cabin in matching mahogany, stripped and all refinished.

·         220vAC Frigomatic, cork-insulated Monel icebox

·         Sink with pressure water

·         Monel countertops

Hull & Deck General

Carvel mahogany planking fastened with silicon bronze screws, laminated frames, oak keel.

Extreme care has been taken to preserve originality, so where possible hardware and joinery has been skillfully repaired and maintained instead of merely replaced.  It is these details that serve to maintain the character of SONNYs history and tell her story.

Recent structural work:

·         Teak decks, 1-1/2"; replanked 1997, refastened 2015 using #16, 2-1/4" screws and TDS SIS 440 caulking

·         New stem head fitting added; increased length 12" for additional through-bolting

·         18 new steam-bent frames installed 2008 amidships, including two frames adjacent the mast step, which were increased in dimension for additional structural integrity

·         Re-fastened topsides in 2007/08

·         Mast partners rebuilt 2008, including addition of 1" Okume laminated compression post and replacement of steel mast partners truss struts with fabricated bronze truss struts

·         15 laminated frames installed in Mid 1990's, bottom re-fastened

Engine & Mechanical Equipment

·         Yanmar JH3, naturally aspirated diesel main engine, 40hp

·         Two-blade bronze propeller

·         Quadrant and wire rope steering system

Electrical Equipment

·         Batteries are deep cycle, mounted in compartment under bridgedeck:

o   Two (2) x 12v; wired in series
o   One (1) x 12v; engine start battery

·         Modern circuit breaker/switch panel mounted in chart table compartment under bridge deck

·         Yanmar 40A marine alternator

·         Battery charger

·         110v, 30A shore power system

Electronics & Navigation

·         Compass in binnacle

·         iCOM VHF

·         Simrad Class "B" AIS

·         Garmin Chartplotter

Sailing Instrumentation

·         Brookes & Gatehouse (B&G) H5000 system

·         GPS and motion sensors, Rate compass

·         Wind speed and direction sensors

·         Depth and speed sensors

·         Zues2 7" GPS Chart display

·         Three (3) x B&G displays

·         Expedition routing software on Panasonic Toughbook, with remote wireless display

Deck Equipment

·         Fortress anchor

·         100ft chain and 8-plait rode

·         Original Wilcox Fisherman anchor

Spars, Sails & Rigging

·         Sitka Spruce spars, hollow section

·         Standing rigging is 1x19 wire, stainless steel to swaged terminals and bronze turnbuckles

·         Spinnaker poles

o   Carbon pole w/ faux finish for PHRF racing (new 2010)

o   Spruce, 8-stave, 100% J for classic racing

·         Reaching strut

·         Whisker pole - 110% J

·         Boom vang

·         Merriman, Lewmar and Harken halyard winches

·         Harken sheet winches

·         Sail inventory:

o   Main - Dacron (North, 2011)

o   169% Lt/Md #1 Genoa - Dacron (North, 2013)

o   169% Downwind Genoa - Dacron (North, 2010)

o   155% #2 Genoa - Dacron (North, 2012)

o   #3 Jib w/ battens - Dacron (North, 2007)

o   Yankee Genoa (Doyle, delivery sail)

o   Spinnaker Staysail - Dacron (North, 2008)

o   Genoa Staysail - Dacron (North, 2012)

o   1A Spinnaker (North, 2008)

o   2A Spinnaker (North, 2008)

o   3A Spinnaker (North, 2008)

o   S2 Spinnaker (North, 2015)

o   Additional upwind and downwind sails in inventory not listed

·         Backstay adjuster - purchase system (original bottle screw and spanners in inventory)

·         Running rigging includes Spectra halyards and braided Polyester sheets

Safety Equipment

·         1 x liferaft

·         6 x life jackets

·         Code Flags


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.

Sonny is without doubt a genuine, highly valuable classic.