The Huntsman 31 was the final Fairey hot moulded powerboat and was launched in 1967. Although undoubtedly the most elegant Fairey hull designed by Alan Burnard, the superstructure is not quite as balanced as that of the Huntsman 28. Curiously, the 31 was not regarded as a direct replacement for the 28, which continued to be sold at a significantly lower price, although most of the 31s did have aft cabins.
The lessons which Alan Burnard had learned from the hull of his raceboat Sea Fox were incorporated in the 31, and he also added a distinctive and beautiful flared bow and fine entry. This made the 31 a much better and drier sea boat than the 28 – although with a slightly deeper V, it was not quite as fast in smooth water with engines of the same power. The flared bow produced an elliptical forward deck in plan view, and this became a feature of Alan Burnard’s subsequent power boats, which were all built of glass fibre. The flare also allowed for much wider side decks than the 28, and the superstructure was unquestionably a Fairey. In addition the forward cabin feels more spacious than the 28.
All but six of the 33 boats built had aft cabins, the six with large aft cockpits being called Sport models in the brochures. Some of the aft cabin boats borrowed an idea from the Dell Quay Ranger, of entering the heads compartment directly from the cockpit for the benefit of those using the aft cabin.
Other variations between the boats included the height of the windscreen, and there are two types of spray rail configuration, changed for hull 11 Fordsport and subsequent boats.
The first Huntsman 31s in 1967 were powered by the 145hp Perkins diesels, then after a year either the 180hp Ford Sabre or Mermaid were fitted, and then available power rose to 215hp. The most powerful fitted by the factory were twin 225hp which gave a speed of around 33 knots when running light.
Of the probable 32 shells built, all but five of them were fitted out at Hamble Point. The unknown hull 14 may have been completed by Attrils at Bembridge, and Hull 27, now Eclipse and hull 28, now Vixen were sold as part complete. Hull 22 Lady B was completed by East Kent Marine with twin sterndrives on layshafts and a unique superstructure. Hull 32 Sabre Knight was fitted out by Attrils at Bembridge, and had a much more angular design. She was known as Delta Sigma though later converted to resemble a production 31 save for her windscreen.
By 1964 Alan Burnard had been feeling left out as Charles Currey and Peter Twiss were driving the official Fairey race entries. His response was to sketch out a pure racing boat strictly as required by the regulations, and by so doing laid the foundation of the Fairey third generation of cruisers.
Fairey would build the race boat if he could find someone to order one – there was some interest but no takers. A frustrating year later Alan decided to build the boat himself in his garage at home, which took a year to complete, ready in 1967. She was named after the Hamble built Fairey spotter aircraft that found the German pocket battleship, Graf Spee in December 1939.
Powered by twin Perkins 145hp diesels, Sea Fox had only the minimum of accommodation to comply with the race rules. She had a more extreme hull shape with slightly deeper V but a much less bluff bow than the Huntsman 28, with a turtle back deck like an Atalanta for simplicity and weight saving. She was cold moulded upside down, so Alan invited 30 friends to a party so that they could turn her over. The class rules limited the overall length of the buoyant structure to 28 feet, two feet less than Sea Fox, so he put in a watertight bulkhead two feet from the bow, which with drain holes became a floodable compartment!
The engines were as far back as possible on straight shafts which were continued out on brackets beyond the transom. This led to problems with aeration of the props, cured by the addition of cavitation plates. She had a single rudder, which was ahead of the props, and the steering position was right aft as being most comfortable in rough water.
Perkins later uprated his T6.354 engines to 205hp, and which made her the fastest Perkins engined boat at the time, achieving 40 knots over the Southampton measured mile. In those days it seems that Perkins supplied engines to genuine racing boats free of charge.
Sea Fox raced from 1967 to 1970, retaining race No 711. She was driven by Alan Burnard, with Fairey Marine colleague Freddie Fry, and achieved the following results in the Cowes-Torquay races.