Because of Fairey Marine’s success in the first two Cowes-Torquay Offshore Powerboat races, Fairey were approached by Cummins Engines to develop a special boat for the 1963 race. The engine space in the Huntsman being rather tight, this led to a scaled up version of the hull, increasing the 28’-10” length to 33’-0” and the 8’-9” beam to 11’-6”, which would also be even better in rough water. But the Fairey management became concerned at possible adverse publicity should the boat not be triumphant, and backed out of the commission once the hull was built, rather upsetting Cummins. However, the possibilities of the accommodation in the larger volume were quickly noted by existing Huntsman owner Frank Brown, manufacturer of Sestrel compasses, who saw the hull and liked the idea of a ‘big Huntsman’. Thus the second generation of hot moulded Fairey powerboats was launched as the Swordsman 33.
This became a successful range of boats, with fifty-six 33 foot hulls and five longer boats built between 1963 and 1974. Twenty eight of the boats were factory finished, plus fourteen Super Swordsmen with a further fourteen part complete or shells, most of which were exported. This must have provided an excellent return on the investment of constructing the buck, or in this case several moulds for the various sections. The first versions to be offered were with a large open cockpit just like a bigger Huntsman, but with the engines below the flush sole, or with a two berth cabin in the aft lazarette, under a deck flush with the side decks. The distinctive Burnard curved coamings were retained. Headroom in the cosy lazarette was of course restricted, but the berths did have sitting headroom. The later aft cabin variation had an increased headroom, as the aft deck was raised to follow the profile of the coaming. These boats had a double berth and an additional heads compartment in the aft cabin. Several boats were built with wheelhouses, for which there was not a standard design. The later Super Swordsmen all had aft cabins with full headroom, and were given a superior interior fit out.
All production boats were diesel powered, and the initial offering was twin Perkins T6.354 rated at 135hp which gave a maximum speed of 22 knots, cruising at 20 knots. An alternative was twin 181hp General Motors diesels which gave 25 knots, 22 cruising, and later on 180hp versions of the PerkinsT6.354 were an option.
Fairey also offered part complete boats, kits and bare hull shells, and there were many variations of accommodation projected, including ferries, and PO1, the prototype for an open military version. However the ride was so wet that the idea was quickly abandoned and the prototype hull 39 became the fishing boat Lady Gwen, naturally with better weather protection.
Fairey Super Swordsman
By 1971, the Swordsman was due for a revamp to keep it competitive, and a ‘New Look’ version was introduced as Gander, hull 40, in 1972 with a full headroom aft cabin and revised internal layout. The design evolved over the next five boats, the final iteration was with Chaperon, hull 45, now Charleston, exhibited at the 1973 London Boat Show.
The improved interior had been redesigned by Edwin Meayers and is a high quality restrained layout that remains attractive today, with an enclosed forward cabin, galley and heads to starboard opposite a settee and dining table to port in the saloon. The layout of the aft cabin followed the principle of the earlier boats but much improved in detail. An interesting feature of the Super Swordsman is a raised grab rail around the aft cabintop – itself teak planked – which allows the additional deckspace to be utilised, and also provides a safe grab rail for the side decks.
In all, fourteen Super Swordsman were built to the final design, the last, Furious, in 1977. By then Fairey should have made the move to glass fibre, but rather than risk an investment, withdrew from the private market. However within three years Alan Burnard was designing an updated version of the Swordsman hull, for the 37 foot glass fibre Dagger patrol boat. Twenty years later this was to achieve moderate success when adopted for Swordsman Marine’s Swordsman 37 in 2000.
Fairey Swordsman 38 and 42
Five extended boats based on the Swordsman were constructed – the 38 foot Frolica in 1968, now much modified; plus the 42 foot Point One, shown on the 33’ production list as hull number 41, and said to be hot moulded; Hawaii and Barfin, and a fourth boat, Gloriette, exported to Cyprus, which all have an overall length of 42 feet.
One of the 42’ shells, presumably Barfin, was offered in a sale by Fairey Yacht Harbours for £2,600 plus VAT in April 1977. These boats were way beyond the capacity of the autoclave, and were cold assembled from prefabricated hot moulded sections. They each had their own distinctive superstructure designs.
A number of other elegant boats were designed by Alan Burnard as variations on the extended Swordsman hull, including several patrol boats, but they seem to have remained as projects on the drawing board.