SV Morning Magic

On Pittwater 2006

A Sparkman and Stephens 34 (S&S34) design built by Swarbrick Bros in Western Australia in 1981. Shipped to Newport NSW in 1982. Transported by road to Yaringa in 2007.

On Western Port 2011




The S&S 34 is the most celebrated and successful of all of the S&S production designs. That's a big statement considering there are thousands of S&S designs and just as many successful boats around the world (eg Love & War Sydney to Hobart in 1973, 1978 & 2006). There were about 50 S&S34 boats built in the UK and another 150 in Australia with the vast majority being constructed by the Swarbrick Bros in Perth. The S&S 34 is still being built in WA, as a foam sandwich/vacuum infusion hull from the original moulds using all vinylester resin. These new boats are light years ahead of modern Beneteaus, Bavarias, Hunters and the like in respect of sea worthiness. The only compromise is that they are a smaller inside. The secret applied by Olin Stephens was to design a good boat first, then arrange the accommodation, rather than the other way around.

The S&S 34 was established as a class of yachts in 1967 following a design commissioned by British yachtsman Michael Winfield. The yacht was called Morningtown apparently after a successful race horse. Morningtown proved to be a very impressive yacht and Mr Winfield decided to go into stock boat building requesting Sparkman & Stephens to prepare detailed plans to enable commercial production of the S&S 34. It was apparently at the strong request of Winfield that S&S 34 yachts should have 'Morning' in their name.

The S&S34 quickly built up a race record with Ted Heath's Morning Cloud winning his class in the Fastnet race and overall in the Sydney Hobart. The fact that this class of yacht performed so well in competition did not detract from its prospects as a cruising yacht At the time it was deemed to have outstanding qualities with "remarkable speed to windward in heavy weather, while being roomy below deck with full head-room. The "tall" rig is 2ft taller and with 2 spreaders and was based on Ted Heath's Sydney-Hobart winning rig. The keel was later redesigned to move the CoG forward and the rudder was also redesigned as a deeper spade on a much smaller partial skeg. These "Mk2" boats which usually had the tall rig are faster than the MkI or "classic" version.

In terms of seaworthiness, the S&S is almost unparalled for a 34' yacht. Although originally designed as an outright racer (as opposed to some other S&S designs like the Tartan 34) it has proven an excellent cruising boat also. Virtually all the long distance solo records have been or are held by the S&S 34. The somewhat narrow stern has turned out to be very well balanced, and the waterline length is significantly greater when heeled at the optimum angle of heel according to Olin being 23.5 degrees. The hull is easily driven so around 20hp is plenty to drive it very close to hull speed.

Apart from Ted Heath's racing successes in Morning Cloud there have been many more and they continue to this day - 1971, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984 all placings in the Sydney to Hobarts, 1st and 2nd Parmelia Race in 1979, Lord Howe in 1996, numerous Melbourne to Hobarts and WA off shore regattas. In 1989 Deerstalker won the North Sea Race, in 1991 a class win in the Fastnet, overall victory in the 1992 Round Britain and Ireland Race, second to a J35 in the Round Ireland Race. In respect of circumnavigations - the first was Jon Sanders who in 1981 in Perie Banou circumnavigated 50000 miles in 420 days. Not satisfied he re-circumnavigated the ‘wrong ‘way round and then double circumnavigated non-stop single-handed. In 1996 David Dicks aged only 17 set out in Seaflight and circumnavigated in 264 days. In 1999 Jesse Martin circumnavigated aged 19 in a 34, single-handed non-stop in Lionheart. There have also been dozens of leisurely circumnavigations in S&S 34's.

2007 Update -

Huckleberry, a 1982 Swarbrick S&S34, skippered by Steve Humphries achieved third in IRC Class E in the 2007 Sydney to Hobart and 28th overall - a great result for a boat this old. Huckleberry has won just about everything there is to win in WA so it was good to see her on the east coast for a while. We look forward to seeing a new S&S34 (Constellation or another) to try their hand in the Sydney to Hobart - would be very interesting. As it is Huckleberry beat a Frer and 2006 Beneteau.

2008 Update -

Simon Torvaldsen launched his brand new S&S34 Blondie late in 2008 - the third using the newest of fabricating methods out of the original moulds.

2009/10 Update -

Jessica Watson undertakes a solo non stop circumnavigation in Ella's Pink Lady (a 1984 S&S34 was named Shanty from Melbourne). Jessica returns to Sydney non the worse for wear with her 26 year old 34 in tact and looking great. Another victory for the S&S34! Jamie Dunross completes an Australian circumnavigation in Spirit of Rockingham.

2011/12 -

Mike Finn sailing Constellation, has sailed a superb series to convincingly win IRC Red Division. Constellation had 7 first places from 10 starts in what is generally regarded as Western Australia's premier offshore regatta.

Constellation also won the race week feeder race, the Iberia, outright on IRC. This is run by Royal Perth Yacht Club and is 110nm of ocean sailing down the unprotected coastline of Western Australia from Fremantle to Port Geographe Marina at Busselton. This year's race was started on 19th February, in conditions varying from a calm at the start though to a 30+ knot south easterly with 35+knot gusts overnight. Most of the sailing was close hauled or a close reach into this, with a 3 hour run to the finish line. The fleet of 19 included the cream of Offshore racing in Western Australia.  Constellation not only decisively won Div 2 by a margin of 37 minutes but also Div 1 by 4 minutes.  This was a particularly good effort considering the quality of the Div 1 fleet, which included highly specialised racing boats such as the brand new Bakewell-White General Lee and the new Achambault 40 Aardvark, all designed and built (some on a no expense spared basis) to win IRC races. (courtesy S&S34 Association)

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