Olin Stephens II, known for his innovations in yacht design and the co-founder of naval architecture firm Sparkman and Stephens, died Sept. 13 in Hanover, N.H., at the age of 100, according to The New York Times. His son, Olin J. Stephens, confirmed the death; a cause was not given.
Stephens, who recently celebrated his centennial in July in Newport, R.I., with the New York Yacht Club’s sixth biennial race, leaves behind a legacy of design achievement. In his lifetime, Stephens produced more than 2,200 cruising and racing yacht designs, including several America’s Cup winners, according to the article.
Stephens is perhaps best known for Dorade, a 52-foot yawl that won the 1931 trans-Atlantic Race, and five successful America’s Cup defenders, including Intrepid in 1967 and Freedom in 1980.
“When you consider the changes in yacht design throughout Olin’s career, it’s pretty unbelievable,” says Jim Pugh in the report. His firm worked with Stephens to design 1992 Cup winner America3. “Looking at the history of Olin’s designs, it transcends the different eras.”
Stephens was also known for his diversity. During World War II, he designed an amphibious landing craft and minesweepers for the armed forces with his brother, Rod, according to the report. After his retirement from Sparkman and Stephens in 1978, which he founded with yacht broker Drake Sparkman in 1929, he began to focus on safety issues on boats. Well into his 90s, Stephens helped to refine modern sailor handicapping systems, which use mathematics and performance to judge a sailboat’s capability, according to the report.
In 1993, Stephens was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in the HerreshoffMuseum in Bristol, R.I.
Stephens leaves behind his two sons, Olin III, who lives in Newfane, Vt., and Samuel Stephens of Keene, N.H., his sister Marite Sheridan of California, Md., and a grandson, Olin Stephens IV of Stratton, Vt.
— Elizabeth Ellis