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jackkunze 07-28-2003 07:57 AM

soverel 39
I am interested in buying a 39, and haven''t seen any info on them.
Anyone know of a link that would help me out?


Jack Kunze

jackkunze 07-28-2003 07:59 AM

soverel 39
you can e-mail me at

Jeff_H 07-28-2003 09:00 AM

soverel 39
There were two very different Soverel 39''s. The first was a keel centerboard boat designed by the Senior Soverel and the second was designed by the son, the late Mark Soverel. I am assuming that you are looking at the newer Soverel 39 that was designed by Mark. Mark was a brilliant designer of high performance boats. He really had a flair for designing easily driven hulls that performed well in a wide range of conditions. He was not the best engineer and so some of his boats were a little fragile.

The Soverel 39 was one of the better late IOR era raceboats. Locura, which was the prototype, is for sale in Annapolis now called ''Avalon''. As Locura she was a very potent race boat in her era I believe winning her class in the SORC when the SORC was one of the top racing venues world wide. (I had considered purchasing Avalon when I was looking to buy my boat perhaps 2 1/2 years ago and had gone through her extremely carefully and had even designed an interior layout for her.)

The tooling for the Soverel 39 was bought by Tarten and Tartan produced a production version of the boat. The production version was heavier, and less competitive but offered a nice workable interior with more headroom than the original prototype. (Mark was a tall man so I have never understood why his boats tended to have so little head room.) These were reasonably well constructed and were good all around boats. One short coming of the design is the IOR flat at the bow that makes them pound when going upwind in a short chop.

They do seem to be pretty hard to resell and I found that they stayed on the market a very long time and that they could be bought pretty cheaply. I had come close to closing on the prototype for somewhere in the mid $20K range and on a Tartan built version in very good condition in the high $30K range.

Good luck,

j24man 04-22-2008 08:04 PM

Jeff, do you know anything about the history of Soverel 39 Virginia Leigh

Jeff_H 04-23-2008 11:07 PM

I don't recognize the name. Do you know when she was built and where she is now?

The original Locura which was the prototype for the IOR Soverel 39 is for sail in Charleston pretty cheaply. They have pulled the inboard engine out of her, added an outboard, and updated her sails but it does not look like they have progressed with her interior.

There are several of the Tartan built boats still for sale as well.


j24man 04-24-2008 07:41 AM

The Charleston boat you mention is sailing with sail #s that USSA say were assigned to a Sov 39 called Virginia Leigh so we are wondering if it actually was Locura. The only web reference we have found on Vurginia Leigh is in Mark Soverels obit where it was named along with Locura. V L has an IOR cert that shows Hull #1 built at Republic in 1984 so possibly a production prototype ?. Any further help would be appreciated.

Jeff_H 04-25-2008 09:34 AM

If that is the boat that I am thinking of, I know that boat reasonably well. She was here in Annapolis for many years and was called 'Avalon' when I knew her. I personally had considered buying her at one point in my boat search for my current boat and so was aboard her quite a few times.

She was the originally named 'Locura' and was said to have won her class in the SORC at a time when winning your class at the SORC was a big deal. (Sort of like winning Cowes race week and Key West race week combined).

She began life as a one off grand prix IOR era race boat. Whatever else that you can say about Mark Soverel, he was able to design IOR boats that were competative under the IOR and which were better allaround boats than most IOR grand prix models.

Mark, like many of the designers of my generation started out designing boats to the MORC rule. At that time the MORC rule produced very wholesome boats compared to the IOR rule and Mark's MORC boats were good examples of well rounded race boats. He took his highly regarded Soverel 30 and stretched it to 33 feet producing one of the nicest racers of the early 1980's, a boat that was extremely well rounded in its capabilities. Although (especially the Tartan built boats) are a little fragile, these are still great PHRF boats to this day.

Mark took the basic concept of the Soverel 33 and extended it to produce the 39. The problem is that the 39 makes a number of concessions to the IOR rule and I believe that these concessions sorfely damage the overall design with the fragile rig and underwater flats being my primary objections to the 39 that are much less of a problem on the 33 which has vee'd bow sections without the centerline flat of the 39.

Avalon/Locura was hand made and varies greatly from the Tartan built production boat. The hull and rig are substantially lighter. This boat had a deeper, heavier, more sophisticated keel than the production boat. Originally the engine was mounted forward of the main bulkhead and I believe that the propeller shaft exited through the trfailing edge of the keel. There were almost no interior accomodations, and much of whatever was there originally has been largerly disassembled. I have been told that the prototype had less freeboard and certainly a lot less headroom. Structurally, the boat was state of the art early 1980's with a vaccum bagged laminate using biaxial cloths and a welded aluminum space frame which of course makes it very hard to actually use the comparatively large interior volume. The spagetti spar section, parallel spreaders and fractional rig make the running backstays and check stays critical to keeping the rig up making the boat a very poor cruiser or single-hander.

Which brings us to the bottom line. In many ways this boat is a really neat icon of an early time. It really is snap shot of what state of the art race boats looked like at that instant in time. As an inexpensive daysailor for a guy with lots of friends, boats like these are a whole lot of fun to own. Unlike many IOR boats of this era, this was a beautiful boat to look at.

The downside is that IOR grand prix boats of that era were pretty much disposable. The rule changed so frequently that they had a useful shelf life of perhaps a year. The boats were fragile and little effort was made to produce a boat that was a good all around boat. IOR boast of that era were cranky boats to sail, requiring big crews and a lot of skill to keep them at speed. They were not exactly good light air boats and they were killers in heavy going.

Mark Soverel's brilliance in creating the Soverel 39 was that it was a better boat than most IOR boats of that era, a little tougher and a little more well rounded, but frankly it was still and IOR grand prix race boat with all of the limitations that implies. These are very hard boats to race today. One of the McKees owned 'Avalon' and tried to campaign her in Annapolis with great crews and very poor results.

They are not good cruisers being vertically challenged, fragile, not terribly seaworthy, unaccepting of much weight on board, requiring largish crews, even if you built a light weight interior for the boat as I had planned to do.

As I have said here before, there are few things more obsolete than an obsolete grand prix race boat. These old IOR 1 tonners fit that description to a tee. When I was a kid in the early 1960's, I had a job working for a wealthy man, who collected antique race boats from the 1930's. They were gorgeous to look at and fun to sail in the right conditions. Care had to be taken to keep from damaging these antiques and they required their own specialized skill set to sail. Locura/Avalon is now almost as old as these race boats were when I sailed them. If you are coming to this boat as person interested in historic vessels, then this certainly is one of them. On the other hand if you are just looking for a cheap racer-cruiser, I suggest that you keep looking.


j24man 04-25-2008 03:34 PM

Sounds like you've done thorough research and that the Charleston boat is indeed the old Locura. We are still puzzled about the sail #s for Sov 39 Virginia Leigh. I don't suppose you know what sail #s the Mckees sailed with do you ?
I'd like to email you about this but I'm new to Sailnet and apparently don't have enough posts yet to do that.

Jeff_H 04-25-2008 03:44 PM

You can email me at jhhalpern at hotmail dot com which is written that way to prevent harvesting by automatic spam address gatherers.


ssth 07-17-2008 09:15 AM

Soverel 39

Read your notes on the Soverel 39 and appreciate the input. Am looking at a Tartan version in the Great Lakes. Have an Ericson 36 with a torn up interior and would like to upgrade to a boat that has a decent interior for cruising and is race competitive. With a PHRF rating of 72, seems like it would be tough to compete with today's racers. There are a number of newer boats in our club and I have been disappointed with the quality of the Benetaus, Jenneaus, Catalinas and Hunters. The Benetau 36.7 seems to be decent, but at 7' draft, it is at the upper end of a boat that I want for most of my sailing in Lake St. Clair.

Raced for many years on a C&C 41 and I liked it except in down wind blows where it was pretty squirrelly. At 41 ft, it is just a bit much to single hand as well.

In your posts, you suggested looking further than the Soverel/Tartan 39.

Any suggestions?



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