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.