C&C 27
A best-seller with many editions

By Paul Howard


Of all the designs produced by C&C Yachts over more than two decades, the C&C 27 was overwhelmingly its most successful. It had the longest production run - more than a decade and the highest volume of sales nearly 1,000. It was also one of the first designs created by the new company, preceded only by the original C&C 35. Final drawings of the 27 were completed March 25, 1970 by project manager Rob Ball, only six months after C&C Yachts had been formed. Public affection for the design was so great that it killed off the 26, the design C&C created in 1976 to replace it. It wasn't until 1982 that production finally ceased on the 27.

To keep the design current, C&C produced four versions of the basic design over the years. Mark I (hulls 1-167) had the shortest rig and the smallest dimensions. Mark II (168-452), produced from late 1972 to 1974, had a taller, higher aspect rig, although sail area remained the same. Mark III (435-915) was produced from 1974 to 1981. Rig height was increased again, this time with an increase in sail area. The hull was stretched with no charge in beam. Draft was increased and ballast decreased, though the overall displacement remained the same. The rudder took on a higher aspect shape. Smoked acrylic port lights and small changes were made to interior detailing, but the basic layout was untouched. Wheel steering was introduced as an option in 1976. Diesel power became available in 1978, in lieu of the standard Atomic 4 gas engine. Near the end of the Mark III production run, the single-cylinder Yanmar SYP 12 diesel became standard. Mark IV (916-972) ran from 1981 to 1982. The forestay was set back about four inches to accommodate a bow roller. Auxiliary power was upgraded to a two-cylinder Yanmar 2GM.

Despite their differences, all C&C 27s race without handicapping. The stiffer Mark I boats place higher in heavier air races; lighter winds bring out the best in the taller-rig models.

The 27 had generous beam and relativity high topsides for a boat of her length, and relatively short overhangs with a wide transom, compared to more traditional designs. The roomy cabin offered standing headroom. A head and hanging locker are just aft of the V berth, with a dinette to port and settee to starboard. Just inside the companionway is a compact galley with sink and stove; opposite is an icebox and some counter space. Cockpit benches are long and straight, reaching within a few inches of the transom. Owners with wheel steering must step onto the seats to get behind the wheel, as the cockpit foot well is too narrow to allow the helmsman to squeeze past the wheel. The boat was really designed for tiller steering. The foredeck is spacious, with the mast set well back for the relatively large foretriangle. The raised coach roof comes up at a low angle from the high, cambered deck. Sloping side decks are of reasonable width, running out at the cockpit coamings aft of the winches. The overall feeling is of a comfortable, well-proportioned, moderate boat.

The 27 has a swept-back fin keel typical of many 1970s designs. The configuration makes for less than perfect windward performance, but offers good reaching in return. A strong and elaborate winter storage cradle is required, as the keel cannot support the hull weight. With a spade rudder fixed at the aft end of the waterline, the 27's light helm responds quickly.

It had been about 10 years since I had last sailed on a 27, and I contacted Geoff Dyer, treasurer/measurer of the C&C 27 Class Association and fleet captain for the 16 boats at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. "Come out for one of the races," he suggested. "For me, club and class-level racing is what owning a C&C 27 is all about."

Accepting Geoff's invitation, I rode the ferry with the downtown Toronto office crowd to the club's island premises. We watched the first flashes of lightning of an approaching storm, instantly followed by large cracks of thunder, as we neared the club jetty. The wind rose to line-squall strength as we first removed, then replaced, the mainsail cover.

"Races cancelled for this evening," came the announcement over the VHF. Our crew of four scrambled below as the first drops of rain, soon mixed with hail, pelted the decks.

While I wouldn't be able to sail the 27, I would at least be able to reacquaint myself with its amenities. We closed the hatches to keep the rain out - which, on this warm, damp evening, illustrated the lack of ventilation. But we were comfortable enough, without feeling claustrophobic, as we chatted while sandwiches and beer were passed around. The majority of interior volume is in the settee/dinette area - the eating and lounging space - which will be most used on this style of boat. When the thunderstorm passed, we moved to the cockpit to see the sun come out just before it set. Some progress has been made in yacht design since the 27 was produced: I felt the low cockpit coaming dig into the small of my back as we continued our conversation.

Another 27 enthusiast, Ken Clark (owner of hull 42 since 1972), shared his experiences. "When I first bought my boat Halifax, it was the fastest boat in its size range. We raced and cruised her in the Montreal area when we moved there, and my sons acted as crew when we shifted to Toronto to sail with that fleet."

There is an active owner's association, which mainly serves racers, with club racing fleets in the western Lake Ontario region. The class enjoys its own starts in longer LORC events.

According to Dyer about half of C&C 27 owners are cruisers only, and many of the racing boats are crewed by families whose children have grown up sailing on the same boat. At least one C&C 27 has sailed from the Great Lakes to Bahamas, as Ron and Ann Ogg of Aliyah spent Christmas of 1980 in George Town in the Exumas before returning home. The boat is strong and seaworthy enough to make such a coastal cruise, though carrying capacity - both in volume and weight - is limited on this type of boat. With their age, the topsides of many 27s are fading. Many hulls have been painted. If looking at an older model, topsides refinishing should be budgeted for if it hasn't already been done. The rubber liner for port lights is probably weather-checked and beginning to leak.

With a proven reputation as a strong, well-built and well-designed boat, and with an active racing fleet, this all-Canadian product presents a low-cost alternative for those wishing to buy a moderate sized racer/cruiser.

Specifications

Value guide:
The cost of a C&C 27 is moderate - about $25,000 for an early, basically equipped model, up to about $48,000 for a more recent, well-equipped diesel powered version.
 
Mark I Mark II Mark III Mark IV
LOA 27.33ft Same dimensions as Mark I, except for an additional two feet of "I" measurement for taller rig, with no change in sail area. (A further two feet was added to the "I" measurement in Mark III). 27.92 ft Same dimensions as Mark III, except forestay moved back about four inches and foresails cut differently to accommodate change in foretriangle.
LWL 21 ft 22.92 ft
Beam 9.16 ft 9.16 ft
Draft 4.25 ft 4.46 ft
Ballast 2,512 lbs 2,116 lbs
Disp 5,500 lbs 5,500 lbs
Sail area 343 sq ft 372 sq ft
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