Built like the Jaguar 27 in the UK, the Catalina 27 was the model that took power from the Westerly Centaur, writes Rupert Holmes
Part of Catalina’s enduring success is a refusal to follow fleeting fashions. Instead, the models have a very long lifespan and are constantly being refined to improve finish and ergonomics, above and below decks.
Two years after the Catalina 22 launched, Butler partnered with Bob Finch to design a 27-foot stand that would be proportionately taller, with full headroom, as well as a separate head and forward cabin.
The Catalina 27 was an instant hit, with 1,500 orders booked in the first three months and in total including the UK-built Jaguar 27 and other variations of the design licensed around the world, over 7,000 were built.
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Production continued in the United States for 20 years, when the boat was replaced by the more modern Catalina 270.
With its slightly longer overall length and wider beam, the Jaguar 27 proved a formidable opponent to the Westerly Centaur, which had been launched two years earlier.
British ships were mostly fitted with new diesel inboard engines, but early American versions were only offered with outboard engines.
Accommodation that was civilized by the standards of the time was not the only key selling point of this model. It was also a boat with excellent handling characteristics that could reach respectable speeds and, if properly configured, withstand heavy weather.
The potential of conception in capable hands was proven when Patrick Childress toured the world for 2.5 years in his Catalina 27.
An unusual feature is the extra wide main hatch, which makes the boat one of the best of its day for use in hot climates, as this arrangement helps boost both natural light and ventilation.
So many have found their way to the southern United States, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, while on this side of the Atlantic there are quite a few in the Mediterranean.
Many of these are old boats from the Sailing Holidays flotilla – the company has managed a fleet of Jaguar 27s for three decades, repeatedly refitting heavily used boats and proving just how solid the basic structure is.
Catalina Specification 27
LOA: 8.27 m / 26 feet 10 inches
LWL: 6.50 m / 21 feet 9 inches
Shine: 2.70 m / 8 ft 11 in
Draft (double keel): 3’8 ” / 1.10 m
Draft (end): 4’4 ” / 1.35 m
Shift: 2,540 kg / 5,600 lb
Sail surface: 26.5 m2 / 306 ft2
Current market value: Â£ 7,000 to Â£ 10,000 / $ 9,500 to $ 13,000