Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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While there are similarities between the Soverel 33 and the Soverel 39, these are significantly different boats. The Soverel 33 remains one of my favorite PHRF race boats of all time. These are well rounded boats that sail really well in almost all conditions. They are moderately forgiving and in the hands of a reasonably skilled crew are a joy to sail. Unlike the Soverel 39, the Soverel 33, which began life as the Soverel 30, was designed under the MORC rule. The MORC of that era produced well-rounded designs that were very good boats even when no longer leading edge MORC race boats.
The Soverel 39 on the other hand was designed as a grand-prix IOR race boat. Compared to the S-33, they were fragile and tricky boats to sail well. The prototype, Locura, was built to compete in the SORC back when the SORC was still a big deal that attracted world class boats from all over the planet. It is a classic three plane IOR hullform. In its original form, Locura was lighter, deeper, more heavily ballasted and carried a lot more sail area than the later production boats and so sailed much better than the production versions.
By the time that Soverel 39's hit production, the IOR rule had changed and the boats were not as competitive as Locura had been. Unlike the MORC, the IOR did not produce well rounded boats. In an effort to make the boats more appealing to a broader audience, a nicer coastal cruising interior was added and the rig detuned from its original design. The added weight of the interior was deducted from the reduced draft keel. While this made the boat more comfortable down below, this took an already cranky sailing design and made it far harder to sail well. The Tartan versions began life more expensive as compared to other less obsolete raceboat designs of that era, such as the Express 37, J-35, Farr 37, or Frers 38.
I notice that the boat in Michigan has had wings added to her keel, but any increas in stability may be in part offset by her shallower than stock draft which I believe was 7'-2". Any comment on whether she has better or worse stability would be sheer speculation on my part.
I have came close to buying both Locura (Avalon at $26,500) and also considered one of the Tartan versions (in really nice shape for less than $50K). These were highly charismatic designs for me. I really like the fractional rig and I loved the Soverel 33 and so expected the S-39 to knock my socks off. But unfortunately, like so many obsolete race boats, its hard to find a niche that these boats fit in. You have not said why you are looking at this boat but as a race boat, (and unlike the Soverel 33) they are too tender and lack adequate sail area to stay at speed consistently. As a cruising boat, they are too tender and have such a narrow groove that it requires quite a bit of skill and attention to sail in changeable conditions, and while they can be reasonable acceptable light air boats, they were not as good as I would have expected based on the 33 and also require just the right sail for the conditions. The flats forward also mean that they pound your teeth out in a chop.
I had an interesting discussion with the PHRF measurer in Charleston about these boats. Locura ended up down there and has been heavily optimized and yet can't sail to her rating. The problem is that she is a fast boat in a narrow range of conditions and when sailed by a highly skilled crew. The problem is that outside of those conditions these boats fall flat and so have a hard time competing. Typical of many IOR boats of that era, when they lose speed due to something like a powerboat wake or chop, they have a hard time getting back up to speed.
In the end, I have followed a few of these boats on the market over the years. Most have remained on the market for many years. There was one boat that sold last year which I looked at before I bought my boat back in 2000- 2001. Near as I can tell, they have all sold for far less than $69K, fecting something less than a similar year J-35 somewhere in the mid to high $40K range.
Although you have not stated a purpose for considering this boat, if your goal is to buy an IOR one tonner, you might look at something like a Garratt 40, or J-41. Other better rounded racer-cruisers in that price and size range might include the Frers 36, Tripp 38, Express 37, Farr 37 or 38.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay