The Shearwater 39 Sailboat

The Shearwater 39 cutter was designed by Dudley Dix and built in South Africa by Nebe Boatworks.

A Shearwater 39 cruising sailboatWith her clipper bow and sweeping shear, the Shearwater 39 'Sea Lion', is undeniably a very handsome sailboat.

Published Specification for the Shearwater 39

Hull Type: Fin keel with transom-hung rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fiberglass) or wood

Length Overall: 39'4" (12.0m)

Waterline Length: 33'9" (10.3m)

Beam: 12'9" (3.9m)

Draft: 5'11" (1.8m)

Rig Type: Cutter

Displacement: 21,605lb (9,800kg)

Designer: Dudley Dix

Builder: Nebe Boatworks (South Africa)

Year First Built: 1990

Number Built: 29


Published Design Ratios for the Shearwater 39

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 17.4

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 38.8

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 250

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio: 31.6

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.8

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these all-revealing numbers...


Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Shearwater 39

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 17.4 suggests that the Shearwater 39 will, in the right conditions, approach her maximum hull speed readily and satisfy the sailing performance expectations of most cruising sailors.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 38.8 means that unless the bulk of the ballast is concentrated in a bulb at the foot of her keel, the Shearwater 39 will have a tendency to heel excessively in a gust, and she'll need to be reefed early to keep her sailing upright in a moderate breeze. 

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 250, tells us the Shearwater 39 is a moderate displacement cruiser, which means she'll carry all your cruising gear without it having a dramatic effect on her performance. Most of today's sailboats intended for offshore cruising fall into this displacement category.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 31.6 suggests that crew comfort of a Shearwater 39 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 1.8 tells us that a xxxx would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0.


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