October 21st 2012. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Mustang: Own a Serious Sailboat with a History

This classic Olin Stephens-designed New York 32 is ready for a new owner.

Mention the name Olin Stephens in any serious sailing circles and you’ll get nods of approval and respect. Mention that one of Stephens’ most enduring designs, a New York 32, is for sale, and you’ll have the attention of the entire yacht club.

New York 32 sailboat
Only 20 of these New York 32 hulls were produced, over 70 years ago.

Mustang is hull number 17 of the one-design New York 32 series that produced only 20 hulls in 1936. The boats were specifically commissioned by the New York Yacht Club to replace their aging Herreshoff-designed fleet of “Thirties” (built in 1905). The new 45-foot boats were designated by their waterline length (32 feet) and were built of Philippine mahogany on white oak frames. They carried less sail area than their predecessors, but had much more livable accommodations and were built for serious offshore sailing. They were also considered unbeatable on a racecourse.

The original boat was built for Harvey Conover and named Revonoc (Conover spelled backwards), but ten years later she was bought by Olin’s brother, Rod Stephens, who renamed her Mustang and campaigned her in many offshore races for the next twenty-three years. Rod was the practical sailor that made Olin’s designs work with tweaks and add-ons, and Mustang became the benchmark for offshore functionality of that time.

Mustang is a significant and capable boat with a six foot, six inch draft, a 24,550-pound displacement, and 950 square feet of sail area. After Rod Stephens, she changed hands a few more times until she landed with her current owners in 1973. She’s been upgraded with a Pathfinder diesel and the wooden decks were stripped, repaired and topped with fiberglass and Awlgrip paint. Below decks she’s all 1930s ambience, with two cabins, a full galley, and crew’s quarters.

The plans were destroyed after the first 20 hulls were built because NYYC wanted to limit the number of boats on their starting line and because they didn’t want the design to fall into “undesirable hands.” About two thirds of the original boats are still sailing or are being restored, and Mustang is one of the finest examples of Stephens’ design number 125.

If owning a piece of history is nice but not entirely convincing, consider this: in 1936, the New York 32s sold for $11,000. Asking price for Mustang today is $172,000 – so much for the adage that a boat is never a good investment. Mustang is currently in Rio Dulce, Guatemala, but her owners plan to relocate her to Annapolis in the spring of 2013. History is waiting, and so are the yacht club members.

For more information, view Mustang’s listing on Yachtworld.com.

Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.