Timeless. Majestic. The poster boat for many boys (and older boys) and girls through the 1960s and 70s, the Fairey Swordsman 33 has a truly fascinating history.
Fairey Marine formed during a diversification of Fairey Aviation Limited in the 1940s, initially building and delivering dinghies such as the Flying Fifteen, 505 and Jollyboat, and apocryphally being the large global producer of boats outside of the United States at that time.
Fairey exploited the innovative build technique of hot-moulding over a male plug – as used to devastating effect in aviation sub-contracts as diverse as the De Havilland Mosquito, Venom and Vampire – components of which required light, durable and stiff mouldings. In many ways this is the direct ancestor to today’s vacuum resin infusion build processes, ensuring saturation of the dry materials during the application of glue/resin to provide a very stable frame to build upon.
During the 1950s, the dinghy production gave way to the rise of the motor yacht, resulting in the 1957 decision to develop the Ray Hunt-designed deep-vee hull. Using a sharp 24 degree transom deadrise, this hull won international acclaim, and success on the offshore racing circuit. With excellent directional stability, plenty of lift from a series of sprayrails, and a planted, soft-landing gait – the hull was a clear winner. When a young naval architect – a Mr Alan V. Burnard joined Fairey Marine in 1957, his keen eye for design and obsessive attention to engineering detail led to the series of designs we all know and drool on still: the Huntress, Huntsmen, Swordsman, Spearfish, Fantome and Amira.
The wonderful line drawings above are by the wonderful Charles Lawrence, and his superb book “FAIREY MARINE – Boats, Raceboats, Rivals and Revivals” is an absolute must for any Fairey fan or nut like me. Thank you for allowing us to use your brilliant drawings Charles – much appreciated.
Fairey Marine was based at Hamble Point, and many of the original buildings are recognisable to visitors today:
There is no more graceful and heart-warming sight than seeing a Fairey in full cry with a bit of spray being fired sideways off her chines.
The first 1963 Swordsman was a development of the race-bred and successful offshore racer-cum-cruiser – the Huntsman 28. 14 Super Swordsman 33s were built, being an improvement from 1971 over the original Swordsman. Fairey re-modelled the interior, and added a full-height after cabin – with the first Super Swordsman being GANDER – Hull no. 40, launched in 1972.
There can’t be too many one owner Fairey motorboats. APOLLYON does benefit from relatively recent diesel re-powering, low-hours engines, and modern navigation systems. Otherwise, her owners since 1973 have preserved her as a wonderful timepiece of mid-century chic, always wintered ashore in a boat hall and professionally maintained. Fairey Marine built nearly 60 Swordsman boats between 1964 and 1977, a development of the Fairey marque with greater emphasis on accommodation and less on engine space. The Super Swordsman 33 benefits from a raised aft cabin with full headroom and its additional en-suite WC/shower compartment. APOLLYON exhibits all the Fairey Marine hallmarks of elegant design, solid construction and legendary ‘Deep-V’ hull sea-keeping and handling, together with significantly more public and private accommodation space for longer periods afloat. The boat has been little used during the last three seasons and we feel there will be work to do to her deck which is reflected in the reasonable asking price.
It is of exceptional note that this Super Swordsman was ordered from, commissioned by and supplied to her current Owners at new by Fairey Marine. They had previously had another cruiser from the Fairey Marine stable, and found her of outstanding quality, so they moved up into her larger sister.
Her Owner also used to play football with Alan Burnard in front of The Bugle in Hamble.. Now how many people can stake that claim?!