Raymond Richards
Alajuela Yacht Corp.
# Built


Length Overall
40 3 / 12.3 m
Length On Deck
33 0 / 10.1 m
Waterline Length
27 5 / 8.4 m
10 7 / 3.3 m
4 9 / 1.5 m
13,500 lb / 6,123 kg
4,700 lb / 2,132 kg
Drawing of Alajuela 33
  • 1 / 3
  • 2 / 3
  • 3 / 3

Rig and Sails

Reported Sail Area
575′² / 53.4 m²
Total Sail Area
575′² / 53.4 m²
Sail Area
241′² / 22.4 m²
36 1 / 11 m
13 3 / 4.1 m
Air Draft
45 6 / 13.9 m
Sail Area
334′² / 31 m²
41 11 / 12.8 m
15 10 / 4.9 m
Forestay Length
44 10 / 13.7 m

Auxilary Power

Fuel Type
Fuel Capacity
50 gal / 189 l


Water Capacity
110 gal / 416 l
Holding Tank Capacity
25 gal / 95 l


Hull Speed
7.4 kn
Classic: 7.03 kn

Hull Speed

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.


Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

A more accurate formula devised by Dave Gerr in The Propeller Handbook replaces the Speed/Length ratio constant of 1.34 with a calculation based on the Displacement/Length ratio.

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio.311
Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

7.43 knots
Classic formula: 7.03 knots
Sail Area/Displacement
16-20: good performance

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.


SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64)2/3

  • SA: Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D: Displacement in pounds.
<16: under powered
16-20: good performance
>20: high performance
<40: less stiff, less powerful

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.


Ballast / Displacement * 100

<40: less stiff, less powerful
>40: stiffer, more powerful
275-350: heavy

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.


D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet
<100: ultralight
100-200: light
200-300: moderate
300-400: heavy
>400: very heavy
Comfort Ratio
20-30: coastal cruiser

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.


Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam1.33)

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet
<20: lightweight racing boat
20-30: coastal cruiser
30-40: moderate bluewater cruising boat
40-50: heavy bluewater boat
>50: extremely heavy bluewater boat
Capsize Screening
<2.0: better suited for ocean passages

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.


CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet
  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
<2: better suited for ocean passages
>2: better suited for coastal cruising


From BlueWaterBoats.org

Launched in 1978, following in the footsteps her larger Atkins-inspired sibling, the Alajuela 38, the diminutive 33 is just as capable but conceived to be more affordable during the hard economic times of the oil-shocked late-1970s. Designer Ray Richards married traditional looks with a modern underbody to produce a nice performing cruiser suited for both coastal work and true offshore passage-making.

Alajuela Yachts was founded in 1974 by Rod Jermain and Mike Riding solely to produce the Alajuela 38, a beautifully constructed yacht based on the time tested designs of William Atkin. Though initially the duo intended only to build the boat for themselves, they ended up taking orders from others and a production run followed.

Despite a cruising sailboat boom that defined the early 1970s, sailboat builders fell upon increasingly harder economic times during the tail end of the decade. Prices for raw materials such as lead, plywood, teak, aluminium, but in particular resin and fibreglass increased substantially as the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 took effect and the inflationary impact of the Vietnam War helped push the price of oil from $3.50 in 1973 to $38 a barrel by 1980.

As rising prices pushed the Alajuela 38 beyond the reach of many (the hull needing some 10 barrels of resin to construct), Jermain and his team at Alajuela started a project to produce a smaller more affordable sailboat. Preliminary research was made around a 28 foot design, but the minimum requirements for a comfortable cruising boat interior made this hull quite tubby with an underwater profile that was akin to an avocado. The project evolved into a 33 footer in order to give the boat enough length and inertia to push herself through offshore conditions.

After doing the initial scoping, the project took some time before Ray Richards was commissioned to complete the design. Richards, a naval architect and veteran of the industry including designs for car ferries and jet catamarans was also well known for sailboat designs that were both fast and practical.

Richards innovated with an underwater profile was quite a radical departure from designs of the time. Rather than a conventional full keel known for excellent and safe tracking abilities, Richards relied solely on the aft shape of the hull and the shape of the skeg and rudder to maintain directional stability. The keel forefoot was substantially cut away to reduce wetted area and aid manoeuvrability and its profile was wide with a flat bottom to allow the hull to be well supported on the hard. The wide profile had multiple benefits. Practically, it allowed tankage, both water and fuel, to be placed inside the keel cavity which lowered the centre of gravity and freed up interior space. Additionally the profile was better suited to the lower speeds of sailboats – most designers were using thinner high speed NACA profiles at the time.

The canoe stern, though mainly an aesthetic choice is helpful in large following seas. The skeg-mounted rudder was designed to have wheel steering with a backup tiller, with the idea that an autopilot setup would be simpler with wheel steering. Such were the economics of the day that most were shipped with the cheaper tiller-only option, with owners knowing wheel steering could be retrofitted aftermarket.

Construction was identical to the much praised Alajuela 38 – a one-piece hand-laid fiberglass hull and a plywood cored deck with one of the best hull to deck joints in the industry. The hull and deck join was designed to lock together with a double bonded fiberglass seam that ran the entire length of the hull producing a very reliable watertight result that was far more costly than the industry norm.

Chainplates were brought inboard to allow for a tighter sheeting angle to assist windward performance. And the choice was made for a cutter rig for its better balanced reefing, especially handy during offshore work. This required a small bowsprit, which was made of aluminium for extra strength.

Internally the 33 has a total of six berths, including the magical addition of twin seagoing quarter berths, that’s quite a lot for a 33 footer and in order to achieve this feat not only was the aforementioned keel cavity utilised for tankage, but some amount of stowage was sacrificed. Jermaine comments, “Storage rather than sleeping was the reason for the double quarter berths. They can take bicycles, boxes of canned food, sails bags, Avons, etc, plus they do make great sea berths.” The feel of the cabin is roomy and the quality of the joinery is impressive.

Under sail the Alajuela 33 is easy to single-hand, fast for her size, and her modern underbelly makes her predictably nimble in tight spaces. When Sea Magazine took the 33 for a test sail in light winds upon its debut, they described a sailboat with reasonable performance, one having a good feeling – steady and responsive with some of the driving feeling you get from a much larger boat. Owners have reported some amount of weather helm.

Priced at the top end of the market upon its launch, the Alajuela 33 is a high quality sailboat from a boatbuilder that has garnered an excellent reputation.

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