Overview of the history of the SS34

The Sparkman and Stephens 34 is one of the world’s most outstanding racing / cruising yachts of its size. It is also one of the most competitive, under any handicap system.

The S&S 34 was established as a class of yachts in 1967 following their 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 SS 34. It was apparently at the strong request of Winfield that SS 34 yachts should have “Morning” in their name.

The S&S34 quickly built up an impressive race record with Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud winning the 1969 Sydney-Hobart race. 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”. This statement remains equally true today.

Apart from the wonderful racing record, the S&S 34 has also a great cruising history. Two well known S&S 34’s “Bluebell” and “Perie Banou” were sailed to England prior to the 1979 Parmelia Yacht Race via the Suez and Mediterranean. “Bluebell” crossed France by the inland waterways, “Perie Banou” went via Gibraltar.

Many S&S 34’s have completed world cruises. Many are sailed solely by husband and wife crews. “Perie Banou” completed a non-stop, single handed double circumnavigation of the world. This yacht previously sailed around the world in 1976. David Dicks on “Seaflight” is the youngest to sail around alone and Jesse Martin the youngest alone & unassisted. Subsequently Jessica Watson has also circumnavigated alone and non-stop at the age of 16 (by this time “youngest” records were no longer officially recognised).

The S&S 34 has the ability to sail very close to the wind in heavy weather. This is a very important feature in any yacht that may be caught on a lee shore.

The sea kindliness of the S&S 34 is due to its well designed hull that also enables it to maintain a good speed under reduced sail, and to be driven to hull speed under a moderately powered engine. Its 2,400 kilogram lead keel makes it very stiff. It is roomy below with headroom of 6’1″.

PS How fast can she go? Azzurro skippered by Shane Kearns hit 18 knots in the 2016 Newcastle-Bass Island Race, see her web page for a photo of the speedo.

5 thoughts on “Overview of the history of the SS34

    • Thanks for letting us know Phil,

      Did you want to put an ad on the Association for sale section? There is no cost to this, we only ask that you update us on the details of the purchaser and put them in contact with us so we can welcome them as a new owner. We are always supportive of anyone restoring/upgrading an S&S 34. I am happy to contacted at any time with queries or information. You might want to also post this on Morning Mischief’s page, the history page might not be read by many.

      regards, Simon

  1. Hi Simon,
    I have co-owned Morning Song, a 1971 S&S34 from the Winfield yard for the last 12 years. She is in great shape and is currently based on River Orwell in Suffolk, England. My co-owner has decided to retire to France so I am on the look out for another S&S enthusiast who might be interested in a half share. I wonder if you have members in UK who might be interested? I can send photos if you would be interested for your archive.

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