|The following commentary was provided by Nick Vass. (www.hurleyownersassociation.co.uk)|
JB Dockrell Inc of Parsippany, New Jersey, USA was the agent for Hurley Marine in USA. John Dockrell was an Anglophile and loved everything British, dressed as he thought English people dressed in tweed jacket, tie and brown brogues. He drove a British car and also owned a British David Brown tractor with which he hauled boats out with. John got on very well with George Hurley and imported a huge quantity of Hurley yachts into America and Canada. In fact most Hurley boats built were exported from the UK. Dockrell commissioned the design of a 17' and a 22', (both with lifting keels)by an American designer. These sold very well and must have looked ok in the late sixties. He then bought the redundant Sparkman and Stephens S&S38 moulds in around 1972. Discovering that British workers were pretty good he decided to move the moulds to England setting up a factory in Tavistock which is about ten miles inland from Plymouth. The Dockrell 22 was also built in Tavistock and sold well.
The DOCKRELL 27 started out in life as the BOWMAN 26. Ian Anderson had designed the timber SIRIUS for the Normand Boatyard on the river Dart in Devon. A 26' GRP version was made and originally called the LONGBOWMAN 26 as the owner of the yard was into historical battle re-enactments. Bowman rolled off the tongue easier and the yard eventually changed its name to Bowman Yachts. When production moved to Emsworth near Chichester and the owners commissioned C Holman and D Pye to design much bigger and more prestigious yachts the 26' moulds were given away to Hurley Marine and became the HURLEY 27. Hurley commissioned Ian Anderson to revise the coachroof to give more headroom and raise the topsides to make her a very dry boat. They sailed very well and had a traditional long keel which was similar to the TWISTER designed by Holman and Pye. Incidentally Kym Holman was actually called Christopher Holman. His brother Jack owned Upham's yard in Brixham which built the Twister and his nephew John Holman owns Darthaven Marina and boatyard to this day on the river Dart in Kingswear.
Hurley Marine closed in 1974 and the HURLEY 27 moulds were sold to Dockrell Yachts Ltd of Tavistock, Devon. John Dockrell himself revised the design falling out with Ian Anderson for doing so. The coachroof was changed again, the inside made open plan and the rig was made into a cutter style with self tacking staysail. The biggest change was to the keel. The draft of the long keel was reduced and an iron wing keel ballast block was bolted to the hull. The boats worked well in the shallow waters found on the east coast of the USA but was less favourable for the rough but deep waters around the UK coast. The DOCKRELL 27 remained in production until 1991 and I can remember visiting the factory several times. It was a nice place to be. Sadly cheap German and French yachts killed the market for British built yachts who had not moved with the times.
Nick Vass. Hurley Owners Association.