Perhaps the most legendary of them all, the Fairey Swordsman 33 truly needs no introduction.
Fairey Marine was formed during a diversification of Fairey Aviation Limited in the 1940s. Initially, they focused on building and delivering dinghies such as the Flying Fifteen, 505, and Jollyboat. Apocryphally, they were the largest global producer of boats outside of the United States at that time.
Fairey Marine exploited the innovative build technique of hot molding over a male plug, a method used with devastating effect in aviation sub-contracts, including the De Havilland Mosquito, Venom, and Vampire. These components required light, durable, and stiff moldings. In many ways, this method is the direct ancestor of today’s vacuum resin infusion build processes, ensuring the saturation of dry materials during the application of glue/resin to provide a very stable frame to build upon.
During the 1950s, dinghy production gave way to the rise of the motor-yacht, leading to the 1957 decision to develop the Ray Hunt-designed deep-vee hull. With a sharp 24-degree transom dead rise, this hull won international acclaim and achieved success on the offshore racing circuit. It offered excellent directional stability, plenty of lift from a series of spray rails, and a planted, soft-landing gait – making it a clear winner. When a young naval architect, Mr. Alan V. Burnard, joined Fairey Marine in 1957, his keen eye for design and obsessive attention to engineering detail led to the creation of the series of designs we all know and admire the Huntress, Huntsmen, Swordsman, Spearfish, Fantome, and Amira. Fairey Marine was based at Hamble Point, and many of the original buildings are still recognizable to visitors today. This remarkable line drawing by Charles Lawrence beautifully captures the timeless design of the Swordsman 33.
It is believed that 61 Swordsmans were built between 1961 and 1974, with many still in use, available in both open cockpit and the more common aft cabin versions. Few sights are as graceful and heartwarming as witnessing a Fairey in full motion, with spray being fired off her chines.
APRIL KNIGHT is anything but a typical Swordsman, if such a thing exists.
In current her ownership since 2018, she has been fanatically maintained by the same team who looked after her so competently during her previous Ownership, when she achieved fame by being the most Concours of the Concours – with gold-plated battery terminals and an unmatched high level of interior finish. She has even stayed on the same berth, and is routinely over-wintered under cover nearby. Her present Owner has owned and doted on Fairey Swordsman 33s previously, owning “CHARLESTON” which was the meteorological chase boat for the UK’s America’s Cup “BLUE ARROW” Challenge. She has thus been maintained in “apple-pie” order – without regard to expenses – and as such is impressively presented.
With a more modern accommodation than many of her sisterhood, APRIL KNIGHT enjoys two heads (both with showers), an open-plan forward end that can work as a v-berth, or infills to a very good-sized full-beam double berth. Her galley area has extra pantry storage built in – with a beautiful Taylors stove taking centre-stage. She has been trimmed tastefully throughout – with a butter-cream leather sofa to starboard, quality blond removable carpets (many still in their wrappers), with immaculate teak and holly flooring beneath. When you lift the boards, the bilge is dentist’s clinic clean!
Updated electronics, electrics, heating and a superb aft cabin makes this classic cruiser truly usable, and she is fitted with a gleaming pair of Sabre 225L’s to complete the picture – which are throaty, start quite on the button, and produce that distinctive deep rumble from her exhausts. Glorious!