The Pearson 323 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Pearson 323, a moderate-to heavy displacement cruiser, was designed by William Shaw and built in the USA by Pearson Yachts.

It is a solid, comfortable and practical boat that can accommodate up to five people and sail in a variety of conditions. With a full keel, a skeg-hung rudder, a masthead sloop rig and a spacious interior, it is a classic example of a well-built fibreglass cruiser that has stood the test of time.

Pearson 323The Pearson 323

Published Specification for the Pearson 323

Underwater Profile: Fin Keel & skeg-hung rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 32'3" (9.8m)

Waterline Length: 27'6" (8.4m)

Beam: 10'0" (3.1m)

Draft: 4'6" (1.4m)

Rig Type: Masthead sloop

Displacement: 12,800lb (5,806kg)

Ballast: 4,500lb (2,041kg)

Designer: William Shaw

Builder: Pearson Yachts (USA)

Year First Built: 1976

Published Design Ratios for the Pearson 323

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 14.0

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 35.2

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 275

4. Comfort Ratio: 31.8

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.7

Read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Pearson 323

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 14.0 suggests that the Pearson 323 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 35.2 means that a sailboat like the Pearson 323 (which doesn't have a stiffness-enhancing bulb keel), is likely to benefit from being reefed early to keep her sailing upright in a moderate breeze.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 275 tells us the Pearson 323 is a moderate-to-heavy displacement cruiser, which means she'll carry all your cruising gear without it having a dramatic effect on her performance. Maybe not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in lively conditions.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 31.8 suggests that crew comfort of a Not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in testing conditions. in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a moderate bluewater cruising boat - a predictable and acceptable motion for most seasoned sailors.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.7 indicates that a Pearson 323 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 

Any Questions?

How did the sailing press review the Pearson 323?

The sailing press generally gave positive reviews to the Pearson 323, praising its practicality, comfort, safety and ease of sailing. For example, Zuzana Prochazka wrote in YachtWorld:

"Bill Shaw drew the lines of the Pearson 323, eschewing IOR design rules (which were so popular in the 1970s) for a more practical aesthetic that would be safe, easy to sail, and comfortable to cruise. He hit the right notes with this 32-footer because over an eight-year period between 1976 and 1983, 385 hulls of this classic plastic were produced in Portsmouth, RI—and many are still enjoyed by passionate owners today."

What do owners of the Pearson 323 have to say about their boats?

Owners of the Pearson 323 tend to be very satisfied with their boats and often share their experiences and recommendations on online forums and associations. For example, one Pearson 323 owner wrote on SailNet:

"Anyone considering one of these is strongly encouraged to buy one. When I bought the boat, it was the largest boat I could afford, but I am now in a position to buy just about any boat I can convince myself I want (within reasonable limits). But I love my boat so much that I can't imagine selling it."

Is the Pearson 323 still in production and, if not, when did production end and how many of these sailboats were built?

No, the Pearson 323 is not in production anymore. Production ended in 1983 after eight years and 385 builds.

What, if any, alternative versions of the Pearson 323 were built?

There were no alternative versions of the Pearson 323 built by Pearson Yachts, but there was an early version that had a quarter berth to starboard instead of a nav station.

What is the history of the builders of the Pearson 323 and is the company still in business?

The builders of the Pearson 323 were Pearson Yachts, founded in 1959 by cousins Everett and Clint Pearson in Bristol, Rhode Island. They were pioneers in using fibreglass for boat construction and produced many successful models over the years. However, they faced financial difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s and eventually sold their assets to Cal-Pearson Corporation in 1991. The company ceased operations in 1997.

What is the average cost of a secondhand Pearson 323?

The average cost of a secondhand Pearson 323 depends on the condition, age, equipment and location of the boat. According to YachtWorld, the current listings range from $9,900 to $29,900, with an average of $18,000.

How does the Pearson 323 compare to other sailboats in its class?

The Pearson 323 is comparable to other sailboats in its class such as the Catalina 30, the Hunter 34 and the Tartan 34. It has a similar length, beam, displacement and sail area, but a slightly deeper draft and a smaller fuel capacity. It is more seaworthy and comfortable than some of its competitors, but also less agile and speedy. It is a good choice for cruisers who value practicality, durability and affordability over performance and style.

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

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