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Pearson Boats: Exploring the Legacy of Timeless Sailboat Designs

Pearson Yachts, founded in 1956, has left a significant mark on the sailing world with its impressive line of sailboats and yachts. Recognized for their classic designs and durable construction, Pearson boats have been attracting both casual sailors and performance-oriented enthusiasts who value quality and the joy of sailing. Renowned chief architect William H. Shaw joined Pearson Yachts in 1964 and, during his tenure, designed over 50 different sail and power boats, further establishing the brand's reputation for excellence.

The rich history of Pearson Yachts spans from its inception in the 1950s until its eventual closure in the 1990s. Although the company is no longer in business, Pearson boats remain popular and sought after in the used boat market. Many boaters appreciate the classic designs combined with modern functionality while celebrating the era of "classic plastic" sailboats.

From their signature fiberglass hulls to thoughtfully designed interiors, Pearson boats continue to be a favorite among sailors. Various models cater to individual preferences, whether they prioritize spacious living quarters or nimble sailing performance. Through the years, the passion that fueled Pearson Yachts' innovation remains a key ingredient in their enduring appeal, making them a remarkably appealing choice for those who cherish sailing.

History of Pearson Boats

Pearson Yachts was founded in 1956 by cousins Everett Pearson and Clinton Pearson. This company was among the first fiberglass sailboat manufacturers and experienced rapid growth during the 1960s and 1970s, while continuously developing and designing new boats.

In January 1959, the cousins introduced the modern era of fiberglass production sailboats at the New York Boat Show with the unveiling of the Carl Alberg-designed Triton sailboat. At the show, they sold 17 of these 28-foot boats, which marked the beginning of their success in sailboat manufacturing (Good Old Boat).

Pearson Yachts continued to thrive and innovate throughout the years. During the 1960s, the Rhode Island-based builder produced their first fiberglass boats. The company underwent a change of ownership several times, with chief designer Bill Shaw producing classic cruising and racing profiles, ranging from 22 to 53 feet, many of which are still sailing today (

  • 1967: Pearson released a range of sailboats, each offering different specifications and features, catering to various sailing enthusiasts.
  • 1976: The company expanded its fleet, introducing updated designs and addressing the requirements of a growing market.
  • 1985: Pearson experienced some challenges with changing market demands but continued to innovate and produce sailboats of high quality and performance.

Today, Pearson Yachts remains a well-regarded brand in the world of sailing, with their boats known for their durability and seaworthiness. For more information on Pearson Yachts history and boats, visit the Pearson Yachts Portal.

Pearson Models

Pearson Yachts has a rich history of producing beautifully designed and well-engineered sailboats. This section will highlight some of their popular models, including the Pearson 30, Pearson 34, 323 Pearson, 365 Pearson, 36-2, and other notable models.

Pearson 30

The Pearson 30 is a classic masthead sloop designed by William Shaw in the 1970s. With its fiberglass monohull and 30-foot length, it was a popular choice among weekend cruisers and racing sailors alike. The interior of the Pearson 30 offers comfortable accommodations for up to five people, with a spacious v-berth, a quarter berth, and a convertible dinette. Under sail, the Pearson 30 is known for being responsive and easy to handle.

Pearson 34

The Pearson 34 is another successful William Shaw design, featuring a sleek, modern look and excellent sailing capabilities. This fiberglass monohull sloop offers a spacious interior with room for six people, including a private aft cabin, a generous v-berth, and a large dinette that converts to a double berth. With its powerful rig and efficient hull shape, the Pearson 34 offers a perfect balance of performance and comfort.

323 Pearson

The 323 Pearson is a versatile cruising sailboat, designed by Bill Shaw to be equally at home as a sloop, ketch, or cutter. This 32-foot boat offers a roomy interior with a comfortable layout and ample storage, making it an excellent choice for extended cruising. Notable features include a private v-berth, a spacious saloon with dinette, and a well-equipped galley. With its moderate displacement and easily driven hull, the 323 Pearson is a pleasure to sail.

365 Pearson

Designed in the late 1970s, the 365 Pearson is a 36-foot monohull available in both sloop and ketch configurations. This model was intended for comfortable long-distance cruising, offering spacious accommodations for up to seven people. Its roomy interior includes a large v-berth, a convertible dinette, an aft cabin with two berths, and a well-appointed galley. The 365 Pearson's moderate displacement and solid construction make it an excellent bluewater cruiser.

36-2 Pearson

The 36-2 Pearson, also known as the Pearson 36 Mark II, is a modernized and refined version of the earlier 365 Pearson. This 36-foot sailboat features a sleek, updated appearance, a spacious cockpit, and a large aft cabin with a double berth. Offered primarily as a sloop, the 36-2 Pearson is known for its speed and agility, making it a popular choice among racing and cruising sailors alike.

Other Models

In addition to the models highlighted above, Pearson Yachts has produced over 50 different sail and power boats throughout their history. Some other popular models include the Pearson 26, Pearson 31, Pearson 27, and Pearson 422. Each Pearson model is designed with a strong focus on performance, quality, and comfort.

Design and Construction

Pearson boats are known for their quality build and well-thought-out design. The Pearson 32, for example, is a popular model that offers a blend of performance and comfort. Similarly, Pearson Yachts has produced numerous models over the years, catering to various sailing requirements.

The hull shape of Pearson boats is optimized for hydrodynamics, ensuring efficient sailing in various conditions. The aft sections of these boats have a well-balanced design that provides ample buoyancy and sail-carrying power. This design aspect enhances the boat's reaching and running potential, making them enjoyable and exciting to sail.

The deck layout of Pearson boats is planned with an emphasis on ergonomics and ease of use, ensuring a smooth sailing experience for sailors. Pearson boats come equipped with roller-furling genoas and slab-reefing systems, making them easily manageable for single-handing and cruising.

For shallow water cruising, Pearson boats often feature keel/centerboard underbody designs. These designs allow for a reduced draft without compromising the boat's overall stability and performance. This feature makes Pearson boats versatile, as they can navigate through coastal areas and anchor in shallow waters.

In terms of construction, Pearson boats are built using fiberglass materials for strength and durability. Early partnerships with renowned designers like Carl Alberg and William H. Tripp Jr. helped establish Pearson Yachts as a pioneer in the industry of fiberglass yacht construction. This expertise has ensured that Pearson boats withstand the test of time, with many sailors using and maintaining their classic Pearson vessels even today.

Through their design and construction, Pearson boats have built a reputation for offering a combination of performance, comfort, and durability that appeals to a variety of sailing needs.

Performance and Handling

Pearson boats are known for their blend of performance, speed, and easy handling. With a variety of models in their lineup, they cater to sailors seeking spirited and honest boats.

One of the essential elements contributing to Pearson's performance is its fin keel design. The fin keel ensures the boat is easy to manage and enhances its sailing abilities, making it nimble and responsive on the water.

Many Pearson models, like the Pearson 38, have been designed for comfortable cruising and easy handling by just two people. They also have private staterooms catering to modern cruising preferences. At the same time, their performance characteristics make them an attractive choice for club racing.

Pearson's reputation for building strong boats is evident in their hull strength and above-average construction. This contributes to their overall performance and handling capabilities as well.

Some key performance characteristics in Pearson boats include:

  • Speed: Many models, like the Pearson 30, exhibit competitive speed for their class, catering to club racing enthusiasts.
  • Sailing: Pearson boats are designed keeping in mind the needs of sailors who enjoy active sailing experiences.
  • Easy handling: They are built for ease of use, ensuring a smooth and manageable sailing experience even for novice sailors.

A review of the Pearson 303 model reveals that it has average PHRF ratings, making it a suitable choice for various sailing conditions. Additionally, it is equipped with a reliable Yanmar diesel engine to ensure safe and efficient auxiliary propulsion when needed.

In conclusion, Pearson boats' performance and handling cater to the needs of sailors who value speed, easy handling, and competitive abilities while offering a comfortable cruising experience. Their design, construction, and availability in various models make them versatile and adaptable options for sailing enthusiasts.

Interior and Accommodations

Pearson boats are known for their comfortable and well-designed interiors. The accommodations on these vessels provide a pleasant living space for both short trips and extended voyages. Below decks, these boats often feature classic arrangement plans, making efficient use of the available space, while offering a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

One example of Pearson's attention to detail when it comes to interior design can be found on the Pearson 37. Built by the American company Pearson Yachts, this sailboat offers a spacious and functional living area. While below decks, the classic arrangement plan optimizes the use of space, providing ample room for relaxing, cooking, or attending to other daily activities.

Pearson's True North 33 powerboat also showcases an impressive interior design. With sleeping accommodations and a full-sized head with a shower, the vessel provides a high level of comfort for its occupants. The finish found throughout the interior is noteworthy, demonstrating the company's commitment to quality craftsmanship.

In the Pearson 36, the interior organization is both well thought out and nicely appointed. The top companionway step, measuring 20 by 18 inches, allows for easy access below deck and offers a convenient perch for the night watch to scan the horizon without being exposed to harsh weather conditions. This design choice demonstrates Pearson's understanding of the importance of comfort and functionality when it comes to accommodations.

Even larger Pearson boats, such as the Rhodes 41, exhibit spacious and comfortable accommodations. The interior of this monohull sailboat features a master stateroom forward, a master head to port, and a large living area, providing ample space for relaxation and socializing while below decks.

In conclusion, Pearson boats blend comfort, functionality, and a smart use of space to create inviting and pleasant accommodations for their occupants. Their attention to detail and commitment to quality make them an excellent choice for boating enthusiasts looking for a vessel with well-designed interiors and a classic arrangement plan.

Buying and Selling Pearson Boats

When searching for a Pearson boat, potential owners can find a variety of Pearson boats for sale across the United States. These boats are available through both dealers and private sellers, with prices varying depending on the model, condition, and location. Pearson yachts are known for their reliability and performance, making them a popular choice for recreational boating enthusiasts.

Buyers can find a wide range of Pearson models with different features, such as outboard-4s or diesel engines, cruisers, racer/cruisers, modified vee hulls, and wide beams. Models currently available on the market range in size from 27 to 53 feet, allowing potential owners to consider the best options for their specific boating needs.

When purchasing a Pearson boat in the United States, it is essential to gather information about the vessel's gas consumption, displacement, and overall condition. Buyers can consult with boat dealers, such as Boat Trader, to find the perfect Pearson model for their needs. Dealers and brokers can provide valuable insights into the boat's history, maintenance, and potential issues.

Sellers looking to sell their Pearson boats can list their vessels on popular boat selling platforms, such as YachtWorld and These websites enable sellers to reach a large audience of potential buyers in the United States and beyond. Additionally, connecting with Pearson boat owners through forums, such as Sailboat Owners Forums, might provide valuable insights and tips for selling their boats at the best possible price.

In conclusion, buying and selling Pearson boats is made convenient and accessible through various boat dealers, brokers, and online platforms. By gathering the necessary information and ensuring the boat's condition is optimal, both buyers and sellers can make well-informed decisions to find the ideal Pearson boat to fit their needs.

Contact and Request Information

Pearson Boats is a well-known brand among the sailing community, with a reputation for designing economical, efficient, strong, and seaworthy sailboats. Though the original Pearson Yachts Corporation is no longer in business, there is still a wealth of resources and information available to those interested in their products. To request information or contact a seller, it is recommended to follow the avenues provided below.

To find detailed information about the different Pearson boat models, the Pearson Yachts Portal is an excellent resource. It provides valuable data and serves as a gathering place for Pearson boat owners and enthusiasts. The site is regularly updated to ensure that it remains accurate and informative.

For those looking to purchase a Pearson boat, websites such as and YATCO offer listings of available boats for sale. Both sites allow users to filter by size, location, price, and other criteria, making the search process more convenient. Each listing typically contains the contact information for the seller or broker, enabling potential buyers to reach out with inquiries and requests directly.

In addition to individual sellers, some Pearson sailboat dealers like MarineSource can also provide assistance on Pearson boats, their history, and relevant data. These dealers typically have experience and knowledge about the boats and can be a valuable resource when seeking information.

To compartmentalize the information, users are encouraged to gather details on the desired Pearson model, narrow down the available listings, and reach out to the respective sellers for more information on the boats' condition or specifications. By following these steps, those interested in Pearson boats can better understand the available options and make an informed decision. 

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