Bristol 35

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By Joe D’Avignon
Reflection, 1973 Bristol 35
Mattapoisett, MA

galleryb35The Bristol 35 was sold from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s as a racer-cruiser with an estimated CCA rating of 24.9 (PHRF 189). It was design No. 1000 by John G. Alden firm, but the actual  lead designer for Alden was Charles Swain.

The cabin

There are two basic interior layouts, but each had an almost limitless number of variations.

The standard version had a canter table with a pull-out seat berth to port and a pilot berth above. In Reflection, the lower seat/berth slides under cabinets with pull-out drawers. The pilot berth has minimal clearance.

In both the standard and dinette versions, the starboard berth has a pilot berth above. The drawings show this as a hinged pull down pilot berth, but on Reflection, it was a hammock berth.

These berths plus the two in the forward cabin allowed the boat to be listed as sleeping 6, but this would result in a very uncomfortable passage.

The interior wood finish is either teak and mahogany or teak and a formica mahogany imitation. Almost everything can be disassembled with hand tools to get access to the hidden areas of the vessel. This is a real advantage over more modern construction for the DIY owner.

For example, by disconnecting the sink and removing three screws, the entire engine cabinetry can be removed to give 360 degree access to the engine.

The hull

The hull is either a modified full keel or a keel-centerboard. Reflection is the keel version, and this reviewer has no experience with the centerboard version.

The boat could also come with a yawl rig, but it is my understanding that this did not change the main mast location or the boom length. Bristol merely stuck a mizzen mast at the stern and changed the back stay to a Y stay. Like the other older Bristols, the B35 has the classic lines with long overhangs and graceful lines

The hull is thick polyester resin and well supported with bulkheads. It has a full keel with cutaway forefoot and attached rudder, a design that ensures minimal damage if you run aground.

The ballast is enclosed, which means you don’t have to worry about aging keel bolts breaking. Electrical wiring is minimal and substandard and needs to be replaced, if it hasn’t already.

The boats originally came with an Atomic 4, but many have been replaced with diesels. I took Reflection and did the Atlantic Circle in 2004 and 2005 with mostly original equipment, including the old Atomic 4.

When I returned, I replaced a number of the original items based on my experience,  but not the engine.

The ports should be carefully examined and replaced if you plan to do serious offshore sailing. The original roller boom should be changed to a jiffy reefing system. Original rigging is well past its sell by date and should be replaced

Sailing characteristics

Like most of the older Bristols, the B35 has a low-aspect rig with a long boom and a very large mainsail. This can create a significant weather helm in higher winds, but it is the boat’s way of telling you to reef down.

The B35 can sail with the rail in the water, but that is really more heel than is desirable for best performance. I usually sail with less than 20 degree heel.

Reflection is a yawl rig, and sailing jib and jigger (mizzen and jib only) in high winds is a real pleasure. You get the equivalent benefit of a fully reefed main, but with almost perfect balance.

You will not win many yacht club races against more modern hulls but, on a long offshore race, you will have a very good chance of winning, especially if the weather is difficult, because the B35 will slog through in relative comfort in conditions that will deter many more modern designs.


As with all older sailboats, have it checked out thoroughly if you are considering a purchase.

Conditions vary widely because some owners didn’t do required maintenance, and vessels can require many thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.

Owners’ comments

Bluewater adventurer John Kretschmer on the Bristol 35 in his book Used Boat Notebook:

“If you have a taste for traditional boats and love that classic look, an older Bristol 35 — which just seems to improve with age — may be the ideal boat to carry you to those alluring islands.”

What the Bristol brochure said

Gracious Spaciousness! Reflecting the Bristol tradition, this fine racing yacht offers exceptional cruising accommodations. The basic ingredients: John G. Alden’s years of design experience; a generous 10′-0″ beam; superb workmanship; attention to detail; and Bristol Yacht’s desire to set new comfort criteria for cruising craft of this size.

Outstanding racing record! Check the performance books. The Bristol 35’s secret: a fine entry: a long broad run aft: a good turn of speed on all points of sail; a good skipper; and a crew that thrills to a winning combination. Proof? Try to crew on one at your first opportunity. Warning! There may be a waiting line. Consolation! It’s worth the wait.

Custom quality! You’ll find Bristol 35’s interior hard to match in yachts many feet longer. The intial impression, and we quote, “Tremendous!” The spacious galley extends thwartship and is well appointed (See standard equipment). Main cabin offers choice … a convertible dinette to port and upper and lower berths starboard or uppers and lowers both port and starboard. Abundant drawers and locker space. Well-equipped thwartship head provides complete privacy between forward stateroom and main cabin. The forward stateroom has two large V-berths with shelves over, and opening hatch (opens either fore or aft). Hull is covered with nylon pile for added comfort. These are the basics . . . check Standard Equipment for details. These are the Bristol features which provide a new measure of gracious living under sail!

Bristol 35 Standard Equipment

Hull & Deck: Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin . . . largely woven roving, strongest material available. Hull and deck thicknesses vary to suit structural demands. Deckhouse, deck and cockpit are integrally molded. Deck clamp and cove stripe molded with hull. Non-skid pattern molded into deck, seat and cabin top. Two dorade vents are molded into the deck and cowls are provided. Hatch (forward stateroom) opens fore or aft. Teak is used for exterior trim and coamings.

Cockpit: Cockpit is self-bailing. Cockpit hatches (2) are scuppered to prevent leakage. Deck layout provides and extremely comfortable cockpit. all exterior trim is teak . . . varnished, sealed or left natural at owner’s option.

Deck Hardware: All deck hardware is stainless steel, chrome-plated bronze, or corrosion-resistant aluminum alloys. Main sheet traveler is mounted aft. Winch bases are molded . . . with teak coamings cut out under winch bases to provide winch handle stowage. Many items are custom-made to our own designs.

Interior: Spacious throughout! Thwartship galley includes gimballed two burner alcohol stove with oven; sink with hot and cold pressurized water; a cold water hand pump; large ice chest; many drawers, lockers and large stowage area aft of ice chest for hanging wet gear, etc. Two interior arrangements (see drawings) available . . . both providing a wealth of drawer and locker space . . . and clear passage from cockpit to lounge area berths or to head (forward). Both arrangements offer 6 berth . . . with foam mattresses. Head, in addition to normal fixtures, includes large shower, several drawers, and a hanging locker. Shower and wash basin serviced by pressurized water (hot & cold) system. For the custom look, woodwork (below decks) is mahogany, satin finished. Main cabin bulkheads are satin finished mahogany or Formica. Mahogany ceiling (on hull) is optional in either main cabin or forward cabin at extra cost. Outstanding craftsmanship and materials complement the spacious layouts. Other features include teak cabin floor (veneer); interior handrails; cabin table; and seahood for companionway hatch(molded).

Engine Installation: 30 HP Universal Atomic 4, gasoline engine. Bronze propeller shaft runs in Bristol-type rubber-mounted shaft log. Throttles and reverse controls installed on the cockpit side and connected to engine with rattleproof ball joints. Water temperature, oil pressure, and ammeter gauges are located on the aft side of cabin house. Two-bladed solid sailboat propeller. Over-sized, nonbreakable fuel filter. Engine room exhaust blower . . . as well as natural forced draft ventilation (U.S. Coast Guard approved).

Electrical System: Heavy-duty system using alternator on engine and 12-volt marine battery. Bow, stern and side running lights. Interior (7) lights. 110-volt shore plug . . . with four(4) outlets.

Tanks: Water tanks (stainless steel) . . . 130-gallon capacity. Gas tank (monel) 25-gallon capacity.

Spars & Rigging: Anodized aluminum mast. Stainless steel standing rigging. Stainless steel wire halyards. Roller feefing gear. Main boom downhaul.

Colors: Owner may specify colors to be molded into hull and deck and choose from a variety of available colors for boot-top, anti-fouling bottom paint, cove stripe and mattresses.


Hull type: Full keel
LOA: 34.7 feet
LWL: 23.75 feet
Beam: 10 feet
Draft: 5 feet (full keel), 3 feet, 10 inches (centerboard)
Displacement: 12,500 pounds
Ballast: 5,200 pounds
Sail area: 531 square feet
Displacement/length ratio: 417
Sail/displacement ratio: 15.83
Hull speed: 6.53 knots
Capsize risk: 1.67
Designer: Clifford Swain, John Alden Associates
Water tank: 130 gallons
Fuel tank: 25 gallons
PHRF New England: 189
Motion comfort ratio: 33.

Line drawings and more specs on the 35