The Jaguar 27 was built by
Eric Birch Yachts of Essex from 1971. The design is a Frank Butler design
of Catalina Yachts, USA., as are the 22 & 25 boats.
Up to this time E. Birch had
been successfully building small yachts under the Alacrity/ Vivacity banner.
The 27 was already a successful yacht in the States, and "buying "
in this design gave, what became , Jaguar, a cheap way of getting a faster,
more offshore oriented boat. It was originally perceived as a performance
cruiser, or the boat for those wishing to make faster/longer passages.
The 27, in terms of numbers
built, if one includes Catalinas, is arguably the most successful design
afloat, and was , until recently, being built as the Catalina 270 in America.
It is now superceded by the Catalina 28. Alas, Jaguar Yachts as such, are
no longer being built, Eric Birch concentrating as a "consultant "to
The 27 was originally a fin
keeler with a swept fin and a balanced swept rudder, a definite offshore
arrangement! However, it was also offered with twin keels, drawing 3’ 8’’,
as opposed to the fins 4’4" draught. Unlike a lot of twin keelers of
the early ‘70s, the 27s are surprisingly efficient, in a cruising context
one would be hard pressed to tell them apart, and having a fairly long chord,
makes the boat directionally more stable to windward.
Whilst still dealing with the yachts nether regions, it is worth noting
that some 27s have a transom hung rudder like that on the 25, and, indeed
may to the novice, cause some confusion in distinguishing between the two
boats. There is at least one boat, "Sunbird", a Mk2 deluxe, that
has, at the request of her 1st owner, a transom hung,but skeg mounted rudder.
This is a full depth skeg. The hull on this boat was moulded by "Seamaster",
who moulded hulls for several builders.
The rig is a standard masthead
affair, borrowing on the IOR thinking of the 70s. It is supported by capshrouds
and fore/aft lowers, all well inboard allowing good windward ability. (The
White Silk has the shrouds taken outboard). The mast is deck stepped, on
a balsa cored coachroof, and supported below with a substantial kingpost.
Accommodation is surprisingly
good, as is stowage, especially when compared to its contemporaries, for
despite this, the 27 has a fine bow and is a well proportioned yacht. The
interior is constructed around an internal moulding which forms the furniture.
The twin keel variant has no appreciable bilge sump, which is inconvenient
if any water gets below. There were two main layout options, both relying
on a large dinette to starboard, the differences being the galley to port,
either a linear type with ¼ berth aft (Mk1), or L shape with berth/seating
forward (Mk2) There is is a 3rd variant known ("Aluco"), that
has a more modern arrangement to starboard, a C shaped seating arrangement.
A small forecabin is separated
by heads & hanging locker, from the saloon. It is the hatches which
are a feature of the 27; a large fore hatch, accessed with built in steps
in the heads, opens above the heads & corridor to forecabin. Apart from
obvious advantages ( such as navigation from the heads!) for ventilation,
sail changes can be accomplished & sails stowed without dumping water
on the berths; for those of us who still change foresails. The unusually
large main hatch opens up most of the saloon.
The cockpit, at 8’ long can
seat 6 adequately, and is a good width to brace one self. The coamings are
angled to sit on comfortably, but the winches are undersized. Cockpit stowage
is excellent, a lazerette taking gas/diesel/bilge pumps; a deep locker to
port, and rope locker to starboard, above the ¼ berth.
The boat is stiff under sail,
with 46% ballast ratio (fin), higher than a "Contessa", and sails
well in light airs, but is powerful enough to make to windward when it blows
up a bit.
Summary by L Milton