The Nicholson 32 Mk10 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Nicholson 32 Mk10 was designed by the British naval architect Charles A. Nicholson. This model is part of the Nicholson 32 series which began production in the early 1960s.

It was built by Camper & Nicholson, a historic shipbuilding firm located in Gosport, Hampshire, England. Known for their robust construction and seaworthiness, Nicholson 32 boats, including the Mk10, have been highly regarded by both cruising enthusiasts and racing sailors. This model, in particular, continues to stand as a testament to the craftsmanship and legacy of its builders and designer.

A Nicholson 32 Mk 10 sailing at hull-speed in the Mediterranean'Jalingo II', a Nicholson 32 Mk 10 beating to windward, helmed by an Aries windvane self-steering unit.

Published Specifications for the Nicholson 32 Mk10

Underwater Configuration: Fin keel & keel-hung rudder

Hull Material: Fiberglass

Length Overall: 33 feet (approximately 10.06 meters)

Waterline Length: 24 feet (approximately 7.32 meters)

Beam: 9 feet 3 inches (approximately 2.82 meters)

Draft: 5 feet 6 inches (approximately 1.68 meters)

Rig Type: Masthead Sloop

Displacement: 6,720 pounds (approximately 3,048 kilograms)

Ballast: 13,228 pounds (approximately 6,000 kilograms)

Designer: Peter Nicholson

Builder: Halmatic Ltd & Camper & Nicholson*

Year First Built: 1968

Year Last Built: 1981

Number Built: Approximately 370 units

The hulls were moulded by Halmatic in Portsmouth and mainly fitted out by Camper & Nicholson.

The Nicholson 32 was a development of the successful South Coast One Design (SCOD) and other proven Charles Nicholson designs like the nine-tonner, Jolina. Charles’ son, Peter, believed demand for custom yachts was dwindling and glass-fibre production yachts were the future. The Nicholson 32 had to meet three criteria. It had to be about 32ft (9.7m) long, easy to build and cost less than £5,000 at the time. 

The Nicholson 32 went through 11 model upgrades, from Mk 1 to Mk 11. The Mk 10 (237-329) underwent major modernisation and restyling. The freeboard was raised 3in/75mm, enabling the coachroof to be lowered and the windows redesigned. The cockpit was enlarged by removing the afterdeck, increasing her length to 10m/33ft, and the offset companionway was moved to the centreline.

Published Design Ratios for the Nicholson 32 Mk10

  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio (16.7): This ratio, which measures the sail power relative to the boat's weight, is at the higher end of what is considered reasonable for good performance (16 to 20). Therefore, the Nicholson 32 Mk10 should have a reasonably good sail performance, offering a balance between power and control, albeit not being classified as highly powered.
  • Ballast/Displacement Ratio (49.2): This is a high value, suggesting that the boat is designed to be stiff and powerful, capable of standing up well to the wind. It indicates that a significant proportion of the boat’s weight is dedicated to ballast, enhancing stability. However, the effectiveness of this ballast in terms of its positioning (whether deeper in the keel or more superficial) isn't addressed by this ratio alone. Therefore, while generally indicating good stability, the practical effects might vary based on the ballast placement within the keel's structure.
  • Displacement/Length Ratio (441.2): This places the Nicholson 32 Mk10 in the 'Ultraheavy Displacement' category, suggesting that it is significantly heavy for its length. This boat will require more sail area to achieve its hull speed compared to lighter boats and can generally be expected to be more capable in heavy weather, but less agile and slower in light conditions.
  • Comfort Ratio (40.9): Falling within the 40 to 50 range, this indicates a motion comfort level associated with a heavy bluewater boat. This suggests that the Nicholson 32 Mk10 should provide a relatively comfortable ride in rough seas, with less pronounced pitching and rolling movements compared to lighter boats.
  • Capsize Screening Formula (1.55): A value less than 1.7 in this formula, which the Nicholson 32 Mk10 achieves, is generally indicative of a boat that is likely to have better stability and suitability for ocean passages. This lower value suggests a lower propensity for capsizing, which, when combined with the boat's other characteristics, reinforces its suitability for extended bluewater cruising.

Theoretical Nature and Limitations:
These ratios, while useful for providing a theoretical overview of a boat's characteristics, should be interpreted with some caution.

For example, the Ballast/Displacement Ratio does not offer insights into how the ballast is distributed, which critically affects actual stability and performance.

Similarly, Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio is influenced strongly by traditional design features (like displacement and beam) and may not accurately reflect the comfort of modern designs that feature lighter displacement and wider beams. These modern designs could still perform well in bluewater conditions despite potentially lower scores in this metric.

Hence, while these ratios are helpful in giving a preliminary assessment, actual performance and comfort would ideally need to be verified through real-world experience and tests, which offer insights that theoretical calculations cannot fully encompass.

Read more about Design Ratios...

The above answers were drafted by using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material; we believe them to be accurate to the best of our knowledge.

Other sailboats in the Nicholson range include:

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