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HURLEY 27
(Bowman 26 , Dockrell 27)
A long keel, spacious yacht with deep cockpi
t.
Hurley 27

In the middle 60's Ian Anderson was associated with a company called Lee Wright Ltd who were building boats at Dartmouth. He designed for them a small sailing cruiser for strip planked mahogany construction called Sirius. After making three or four boats to this design the company were taken over by the Normand electrical company of Clapham Common London. The MD was Jack Bowdich, a sailing enthusiast, and the new outfit was called The Normand Boatyard Dartmouth. The link here may be that Jack's boat may well have been in the yard when the Lee Wright company got into difficulties.

Ian Anderson, with the respected Hurley 22 design behind him, was asked by Normand Boatyard to re-work the Sirius design for GRP construction which he did and the first boat produced was given the name Bowman. The moulding was carried out by the Monachorum Manufacturing company run by Pat Hallam, assisted by Mike Challis, who subsequently ran the SABB UK South agency for 30 years and has now retired. Eleven boats were built by the Normand Boatyard before the rights were sold to their then agents Larry Baker and Alan Hallett of Emsworth Marine Sales who were operating from Emsworth Marina, then in the process of being dug out. A further quantity of boats to the Bowman design were then built at Emsworth Shipyard (anybody know how many?) before production ceased.

At about this time George Hurley wanted a larger version of the Hurley 22 to add to the Hurley boat range. Ian Anderson was again called upon and the Bowman 26 moulds were used as a starting point. a number of design changes were made, the most noticeable of which was the raising of the forward coachroof to provide standing headroom in the forepeak. The topsides were also raised all round by about 6 inches resulting in an increased length overall to 27 feet. This boat was called the Hurley 27. Ninety one 27s were built between 1971 and Feb 1974. Five of them were sold as kits and so were not issued with a Hurley Boat Number or Sail Number. Sail Numbers ran from 1 to 91.

Dockrell 27

JB Dockrell Inc of Parsippany, New Jersey, USA was the agent for Hurley Marine in USA. John Dockrell was an Anglofile and loved everything British, dressed as he thought English people dressed, in tweed jacket, tie and brown brogues. He drove a British car and also owned a British David Brown tractor with which he hauled boats out with. John got on very well with George Hurley and imported a huge quantity of Hurley yachts into America and Canada. In fact most Hurley boats built were exported from the UK. Dockrell commisioned the design of a rather ugly 17' and a 22' lifting keel boat by an American designer. These sold very well and must have looked OK in the late sixties. He then bought the redundant Sparkman and Stephens S&S38 moulds in around 1972. Discovering that British workers were pretty good he decided to move the moulds to England setting up a factory in Tavistock which is about ten miles inland from Plymouth. The Dockrell 22 was also built in Tavistock and sold well.

The Dockrell 27 started out in life as the Bowman 26. Ian Anderson had designed the timber Sirius for the Normand Boatyard on the river Dart in Devon. A 26' GRP version was made and originally called the Longbowman 26 as the owner of the yard was into historical battle re-anactments. Bowman rolled off the tongue easier and the yard eventually changed its name to Bowman Yachts. When production moved to Emsworth near Chichester and the owners commisioned C Holman and D Pye to design much bigger and more prestigious yachts the 26' moulds were given away to Hurley Marine and became the Hurley 27. Hurley commisioned Ian Anderson to revise the coachroof to give more headroom and raise the topsides to make her a very dry boat. They sailed very well and had a traditional long keel which was simular to the Twister designed by Holman and Pye. Incidently Kym Holman was actually called Christopher Holman. His brother Jack owned Upham's yard in Brixham which built the Twister and his nephew John Holman owns Darthaven Marina and boatyard to this day on the river Dart in Kingswear.

Hurley Marine closed in 1974 and the Hurley 27 moulds were sold to Dockrell Yachts Ltd of Tavistock, Devon. John Dockrell himself revised the design, falling out with Ian Anderson for doing so. The coachroof was changed again, the inside made open plan and the rig was made into a cutter style with self tacking staysail. The biggest change was to the keel. The draft of the long keel was reduced and an iron wing keel ballast block was bolted to the hull. The boats worked well in the shallow waters found on the east coast of the USA but was less favourable for the rough but deep waters around the UK coast. The Dockrell 27 remained in production until 1991 and I can remember visiting the factory several times. It was a nice place to be. Sadly cheap German and French yachts killed the market for British buiklt yachts who had not moved with the times.