|For some years, Hunter Boats was among the largest sailboat builders in Britain. |
The first sailboat was the SQUIB, designed by Oliver Lee. At this time the company was called the Essex Boat Company. In the early 1970's the company moved to a new custom built factory off Sutton Rd, in Rochford and became Hunter Boats, founded by Michael Polard.
Oliver Lee designed several other Hunters for the renamed Hunter Boats Ltd between 1969 and 1975.
These included the HUNTER 490, the HUNTER 701, the TRACER (a mini SQUIB with lifting keel) and the revamped HUNTER 19 (which became the HUNTER EUROPA.)
By 1975 Hunter Boats had adopted David Thomas as their designer of choice. The very successful SONATA was a development of his Quarter Tonner, Quarto. This was followed by the IMPALA, the DELATA 25, the MEDINA 20, and the somewhat unorthodox but very popular cat ketch-rigged centreboarder, the LIBERTY 22 and 23. A gaff-rigged sister-ship went under the name of the MINSTREL 23.
During this period, the company was also building a few, more performance oriented boats including the lifting keel 22' FORMULA ONE and FORMULA 28 by Steven Jones. There was also a more exotic production Half Ton Van de Stadt designed HB31. She and the Formula designs were the first production boats to use Kevlar in their standard laminates.
In 1984, Hunters decided to investigate Twin Keels and move towards cruisers rather than Cruiser-Racers. The first of this new range of cruisers was the HORIZON 26, which won the Best Production Boat of the Year Award in 1984. She was soon joined by the twin keel DUETTE 23 (a SONATA development with twin keels), the HORIZON 27, 272 and 273, and the HORIZON 32 wheelhouse cruiser. The new 32 also won the Award for the best Production Cruiser of the year in 1987. The Fin Keel Hunter 27OOD was a larger rigged and quicker version of the HORIZON 27. The last Horizon models were the 21, 23 and the 30; also predominantly Twin Keelers.
In 1991, the new CHANNEL 323 was the biggest cruiser in the range. Most had twin keels, but a later introduced 323 Fin Keeler was also popular.
In the 1994, Hunter Boats introduced the new Ranger hull shape. Designed by David Thomas, these hulls have long waterlines, great stability and a subtle chine that runs from transom to amidships. This adds further to stability and produces a hull that sails in a straight line with consummate ease. Hunter owners had become less interested in racing over the years; solid and quick cruisers were becoming more in demand.
The RANGER 265 and RANGER 245 follow this theme. The PILOT 27 is a deck saloon development, offering inside steering and all round vision from the dinette settees. Now the new CHANNEL 27 cruiser, which is a conventional roof version of the PILOT 27, has replaced the RANGER 265.
The HUNTER 707, a high performance sportboat was introduced in 1995. In 1996, she was voted Yacht of the Year.
An all new CHANNEL 31 was launched in 2000. In 2003 came the MYSTERY 35.
In 2003, Hunter Boats was taken over by the Select Yachts Group, which also comprised Cornish Crabbers, Red Fox Yachts, the Landau Launch Company and Cornish Diva.
In 2009 LAUREN MARINE purchased the rights/brand and mould tools for the BRITISH HUNTER RANGE of yachts.
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