Howmar Boats Finest 15′ Sloop: Designers Choice (“DC”)

Designers Choice: A Small Sloop

Originally designed by the naval architects Sparkman & Stephens, and built circa Edison New Jersey in the late ”70s through mid-’80s, the Designers Choice (“DC”) is a fibreglass-hulled sailboat with length overall (LOA) of 14′ 10.5″, length at the waterline of 12′ 9″ and beam of 6′ 1″. She weighs in at 315 lbs.

The draft of the DC varies from 5″ (centerboard up) to 3′ 0″ (centerboard down). Aft freeboard is 1′ 2″.

The mast is tall and the sail area of the mainsail is 82 sq ft; that of the jib is 28 sq ft. Crew capacity is 900 lbs. In my experience, 3 adults and 3 children can be comfortable on board.

DC Standard Features

She features:

  • Black anodized aluminum spars.
  • Grooved mast with loose footed mainsail fitted with luff slugs.
  • Stainless steel chain plates, headstay & shrouds.
  • Deluxe heave duty fittings.
  • Four-part mainsheet with quick release cam cleat on centerboard trunk.
  • All hardware  mounted with through-bolts or drilled and tapped into aluminum backing plates.
  • Controllable outhaul, boom vang and Cunningham.
  • Kick-up rudder with foam-filled floating black anodized aluminum tiller and universal hiking stick.
  • 1.25″ vinyl rub-rail.
  • Non-leaking centerboard pin above the waterline and cockpit sole for easy access.
  • Hand laid-up heavy duty mat and roving hull construction
  • White gelcoat finish.
  • Molded-in skid-resistant side seats and cockpit sole.
  • Large covered stowage locker under afterdeck.
  • Durable dacron mainsail and jib.
  • Jib window and jiffy reefing are standard.


I have owned my DC since 2003. I have had 3 sailboats in my life and this is a decent little craft. She was built in 1979, making her 38 years. Several photographs are included below. A copy of the original Howmar Designers Choice is provided for download, as well.

1979 Designers Choice with original sails
1979 Designers Choice on the beach
Tanaka 3 HP outboard kicker
1979 Designers Choice on Trailer. Sails are original. She is launched from the yard onto the Chesapeake Bay. She is kept covered when not in use.


Author: johnrzaleski_eqbr0v

John R. Zaleski, PhD, CAP, CPHIMS, is Chief Analytics Officer of Bernoulli, a leader in real-time connected healthcare. Dr. Zaleski brings 21 years of experience in researching and ushering to market devices and products to improve healthcare. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, with a dissertation that describes a novel approach for modeling and prediction of post-operative respiratory behavior in post-surgical cardiac patients. Dr. Zaleski has a particular expertise in designing, developing, and implementing clinical and non-clinical point-of-care applications for hospital enterprises. Dr. Zaleski is the named inventor or co-inventor on seven issued patents related to medical device interoperability. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on clinical use of medical device data, information technology and medical devices and wrote three seminal books on integrating medical device data into electronic health records and the use of medical device data for clinical decision making, including the #1 best seller of HIMSS 2015 on connected medical devices.

27 thoughts on “Howmar Boats Finest 15′ Sloop: Designers Choice (“DC”)”

  1. What nice example! Thanks for posting. I have a DC 15 as well. A very well constructed, even tempered boat. Mine has new sails, but most everything else orginal.

  2. Really enjoyed sailing mine for about 20 years. But a tree fell on the hull so I am looking for a replacement hull that floats if anyone is no longer using his or her DC.

      1. Hi John – I have a DC 15 and wanted to ask what size shaft you have on that outboard. I’m getting ready to buy one and still need to install the mount but wanted to check with you. Thanks!

        Greg – Baltimore

          1. Thanks, John. I just bought a 2.5HP Lehr propane kicker with a short shaft. West Marine has a 50% sale on these so it was a really good deal. I’m looking for a bracket now and will take your advice on the mounting hardware. If you have any other tips, I’m all ears. Not sure if anyone ever made a mounting template but that would be really nice.

            Thanks again.

          2. I’m not sure why I never took a close-up photo of the outboard. But, here’s what I did: purchased a standard dingy adjustable engine mount (something like $150 many years ago) and scribed 4 bolt holes on transom roughly over the factory mount holes. The factory mount holes were in a pattern of 3-over-3 accepting screws embedded in the fibre glass. Not a modern standard for this 1979 boat. Then, I simply drilled and backed the holes. Voila.

  3. Love that there are others still sailing this great design.
    If anyone has a rigged vessel that could share a close up shot of the “clew car” that holds the sail in the boom track with the aid of a ruler along side the part I’d be most grateful. Can’t find a replacement part (for ours that is missing) so I’m planning on having one fabricated if I could get some specs.

  4. Hi, I own a DC as well. I am looking for any info on a motor mount for the stern. It looks like you have one on yours. Do you have a template for a motor mount? Or know where I could get any info that would help. Thank You.


    1. I have a motor mount. The DC I have had in-built screw receivers (3 across top-bottom, left-hand hull. I used those originally but decided later on to get a new metal motor mount that raises and lowers. For this, I drilled four holes in the transom above water line (boat has this automatic bailer capability, so drilled above the hull line). I can take photos of these but do not have a template. Perhaps a template could be made from that.

      1. Hi! Anybody find/make this template? I’m going to install one in the next two weeks and would rather not go in totally blind.

        Also, if anyone can suggest the appropriate shaft length for an outboard that would be helpful as well.

        Thanks for any help.

  5. I have a 1985 DC 15, which I have been sailing for about 10 years. It is such a stable hull design, and it tracks so well in light winds. We have a 4hp Mercury outboard with a similar transom mount. Overkill I know, but in lake sailing, the winds die out just when you are a few miles from the marina. LOL. Nice to find the owners manual. TY

  6. can anybody get me a picture of the fitting that the shrouds pass thru the spreaders. I just bought this boat and those pieces are missing

    1. I have been looking up old photos. I know how they go, and actually had photos of them. But, lacking that handy photo, perhaps you could ask a more specific question to which I can respond. Maybe I can describe it in a drawing.

  7. I just purchased a DC15 and the hardware that holds the rigging to the spreaders is missing just a ~3/4″ hole in the spreader bar.
    Can someone get me a closeup picture of what is supposed to be there? right now the spreaders just slip down the stays and do not do any “spreading” of the stays.

    thanks in advance

    1. James ,
      We just bought a DC15 with one spreader . I ordered a pair with end fittings from A.P.S. sailing gear in Annapolis for $56.00 total . I’ll have to cut one inch off each mast end.

      John In CT

  8. forgotten that I asked once before but still would like to know. I need to fashion something to keep the spreaders from slipping down the stays.

    1. I had used rubber O-rings in the stay pass-through that worked well for the life I had the boat. Replaced a couple of times. No issues.

  9. It’s nice to see others sailing the DC15. I am finally parting with mine. I want to sail off the beach on a Hobie Cat H16. Hopefully I can trade or get enough to buy something decent.

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