Bristol 24

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Houqua, a 1969 Bristol 24 owned by Douglas Wollmar of Sedgwick, Me

The Bristol 24, also known as the Corsair and the Sailstar 24, was the first Bristol sailboat sold by Clinton Pearson after he bought a struggling sailboat manufacturer called Sailstar in West Warwick, R.I., in 1964 and transformed it into Bristol Yachts in 1966.

This sturdy, seaworthy sailboat was designed by Paul Coble for Sailstar as a roomy, heavy vessel capable of going places that many 24-footers would not dare.

The price for that seaworthiness is speed. The 24 has a full, 3,000-pound keel with cutaway forefoot and attached rudder. That means more modern 24-footers will sail circles around it, even though they can’t handle the conditions the Bristol 24 can., in a review, echoed the views of many owners that the 24 is a sailboat that can be upgraded into an ocean-going vessel.

“Her large wetted area and lack of sail area has given her a reputation for being quite slow in light winds. However, in heavy conditions, she can be surprisingly quick as her high ballast ratio gives her the ultimate stiffness needed to hold onto her canvas while other boats would be reefing,” the web site said.

Cliff Unruh, longtime owner of the Bristol 24 FIRST DATE, said it has performed so well that, in the end, he and his wife can never bring themselves to sell it and buy a larger sailboat for cruising the California coast..

“We are continually amazed at the Bristol 24.  FIRST DATE sails like a much larger boat and handles rough conditions with ease, and the symptoms of biggerboatitis seem to fade a bit,” he said.

Unruh’s 24 is a later model with a small inboard diesel and lead ballast — newer Bristols generally are higher quality and cost more — and he sees it as a near-perfect compact cruising sailboat.

“Three weeks aboard at a stretch does not make us wish for a larger boat and, each time the weather gets rough, we are grateful for the size of her rig and the ease with which we can control things,” he said.

Don’t expect the impossible from a 24, though. With an 18-foot waterline and a PHRF rating of 276, this is a 4- to 5-knot boat. While its ride is as easy as a larger sailboat, the 24 still can’t keep up with them.

More than 750 — possibily several hundred more — were built between 1964 and 1983.

The 24 has a surprising 6 feet of headroom with a V berth forward and room for a head underneath which, while less than ideal, gives the remainder of the cabin plenty of space.

Some models had twin settees in the main cabin, with the galley, sink and icebox occupying the space that would have been taken up by the head and hanging locker in other brands of 24-footers.

Other models had a dinette to port, convertible to a small double berth, with a quarterberth and relatively spacious galley along the starboard side.

Many of the 24s are equipped with outboard motors, unlike Unruh’s, which makes the boat more difficult to handle in rough weather if you can’t or don’t want to sail; The engine will race as the prop comes out of the water as you encounter larger waves.

The Sailstar 24 and some of the early Bristol 24s had ballast of concrete and scrap metal rather than the preferable lead that was used in newer 24s. This can cause significant problems if water seeps into the ballast compartment, particularly in cold places where that water can freeze.

A 24 with concrete ballast will have a shallow bilge. It’s worth having the keel checked out by a professional if you are buying one of these, because repairs can be costly — or impossible if the condition has deteriorated too far.

Also, 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 even small vessels can require thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades if they were neglected.

Owners’ comments

Douglas Wollmar
Houqua, a 1969 Bristol 24
Sedgwick, Me.


Houqua’s cabin is spacious for a 24-foot sailboat.

Been sailing her out of the Benjamin River in Eggemoggin Reach for a couple years now, where there are two other B24’s, a B32 and I think a 35.5. The B24 is the perfect combination of seaworthiness in a small package. The cabin is huge for a boat this size, yet the cockpit is plenty large. The engine well combines the economy of an outboard with less noise and no need to hang over the stern.

What said about the 24

“The popular little Bristol 24 … is a safe and solidly built pocket cruiser from the 1960s. … This Paul Coble design, with the right equipment, is perfectly suited to ocean voyaging.”

What the Bristol brochure said

“Bristol 24, one of the roomiest 24-footers on the market, is also one of the best values. This design provides extremely comfortable accomodations for a cruising boat of this size. Consider the 6-foot headroom. The privacy of a door separating the cabins. The generous storage space in the galley and under bunks. The warm luxury of Mahogany coamings, weatherboards and handrails. The quality of Bristol construction throughout. Consider the Quality control, which includes tank testing.

Yacht-like performance! The 24 is sound, safe and seaworthy. She is fast, extremely stiff and dry sailing. She provides up to 1600 pounds more displacement than competitive models. She not only sails and handles well…she looks like a yacht! The best way to prove her performance is to sail her…just once! You be in for a thrill!

Universal appeal! The Bristol 24 makes an ideal cruising boat for any young couple. She makes an ideal boat for an older couple. But the 24 also appeals to the sailing family… racing for dad, galley space and accommodations for mom, and privacy for the children. No matter what your needs, here’s performance, beauty, accommodations, quality fiberglass construction and lasting value at a price that looks good against any competition. Maybe that why so many own Bristol 24s … and are convinced she’s best. Why don’t you arrange to test-sail her?

“Bristol 24 Standard Equipment

“Hull & Decks: Molded of High-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin…tightly woven roving, strongest material. Hull and deck thickness vary to structural demands. Deckhouse, deck and cockpit are integrally molded. Full length non-skid dexoleum on deck and in walkways. Opening hatch forward is translucent, has molded watertight gasket, and hatch lock. Choice of molded in colors (from standard color chart) for hull and deck. Painted boot on waterline. Vinyl anti-fouling bottom paint.

“Cockpit: Five foot cockpit … with storage space in large lazaret. Non-skid Dexoleum on cockpit floor. Molded fiberglass winch bases with handle storage. Coamings and weatherboards for companionway are varnished mahogany. Outboard well (optional).

“Deck Hardware: All deck hardware is satin finish chrome-plated bronze or high tensile alloys. Owners use the word “elegant” to describe them.

“Interior: Cabin space and headroom (6-foot) equals far larger boats. Attractive dinette … with five berths or standard arrangement … with four berths. Interior finish – satin finished mahogany bulkheads and trim. Storage space in galley and under bunks. Door (optional) separates the cabins for privacy. Six fixed ports, 4 in main cabin, two in forward cabin. Carpeting is non-absorbent, washable, colorfast, mildew-proof 100% ploypropylene. Galley sink and insulated icebox are standard equipment. New this year is the fiberglass finishing headliner to spruce up the interior appearance in both the main and forward cabins.

“Choice of Models: The Bristol 24 is offered in two arrangements: standard and dinette.

“Spars & Rigging: Standing rigging includes modern masthead rig with fully anodized mast and boom. Stainless wire shrouds. Turnbuckles.. chromeplated with Monel shaft. Roller reefing gooseneck. Running rigging includes main and jib halyard, main and jib sheets of Dacron Samson Yacht Braid.


Retrofitting a Bristol 24 on the 24

Line drawings and more specs on the 24


Hull type: Full keel
LOA: 24.6 feet
LWL: 18.1 feet
Beam: 8 feet
Draft: 3.42 feet
Displacement: 5,920 pounds
Designer: Paul Coble
Water tank:
Fuel tank:
PHRF New England: 276
Motion comfort ratio: 28.39