Pearson Yachts was founded in 1959 in Rhode Island, USA by cousins Clinton and Everett Pearson with their introduction of the first mass production fiberglass sailboat, the Triton 28. During the company’s first era, Pearson Yachts worked with the famous designers in the world to introduce indelible classics that are admired still today. Then they switched to in-house designs and produced a prolific number of winners over the years. The Pearson 35, introduced in 1968, is one of the most popular of their in-house designs with a 14 year production run and over 500 hulls molded. Featured as one of Gregg Nesto’s twenty affordable sailboats to take you anywhere, she is well regarded especially by shoal water sailors along the US Atlantic Coast for her 3′ 9″ board up draft.
Bill Shaw had taken over the design wing of Pearson Yachts and penned this 35-footer as a direct replacement for an often confused 35-foot Carl Alberg classic which was in production from 1964 until 1968. Shaw’s Pearson 35 has 7′ 6″ centerboard and 3′ 9″ full keel arrangement with connected rudder. She draws inspiration from the CCA rules of the day with her long overhangs, graceful sheer, and modest freeboard, and narrow beam by today’s standards. She is quite heavy with her 371 D/L ratio but has a respectable 15.9 SA/D ratio for light wind. At first Pearson advertise her as having racing potential, but as the IOR rules came into vogue they squarely branded her as a cruiser.
The construction is a solid fiberglass hull with a balsa cored deck to reduce weight up high. The 5,400 pounds of lead ballast is distributed in the full keel cavity while the centerboard is fiberglass laminate. Pearson used molded liners overhead and pans below to provide the interior structure and rigidity. Wood gran or off white plastic laminates fit out the interior bulkheads, ceilings, and cabinetry. Aloft is a 44′ 6″ clearance sloop or yawl rig, stepped on deck, and supported below by a weight-bearing bulkhead. Mark I interiors feature a combination dinette / double berth portside aft. Post 1975, they eliminated the the dinette in favor of a true transom berth.
Under sail her best performance is reaching though if you reef the main and jib appropriately she can to windward well. Her 10-foot beam makes tender at first. At 30 degrees she locks in, takes advantage of her CCA overhangs, and has soft motion in a seaway. She has weathered heavy storms and 20-foot seas before coming back to harbor in great shape. In chop, expect some amount of hobbyhorsing because her short waterline length.
Of particular concern on this vintage 35’s is the balsa cored deck. Balsa cored construction was in its infancy during the late 1960’s and 1970’s led by Canada’s C&C and USA’s Pearson Yachts. Pearson’s processes for glassing around deck hardware and the main mast were not in full bloom. The mast is especially a concern as a wet core could jeopardize the integrity of the supporting bulkhead. Later models in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s are known to have cosmetic blister issues due to that era’s boat pox.
Pearson Yachts ceased production of Shaw’s 35-footer in 1982 and all operations in 1991. Slightly over 500 Pearson 35’s were built.
» Pearson 35: A popular, well-aged, shoal-draft cruiser, Twenty Affordable Sailboats To Take You Anywhere, Gregg Nesto
» Pearson 35, Boat Reviews by Jack Hornor
» The Pearson 35′ Sloop, Boating Magazine, Syd Rogers, April 1968
» Pearson History, Good Old Boat, Steve Mitchell