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Vanessa Bird's East Anglian Article from Classic Boat


The East Anglian is a solid, reliable and seaworthy boat whose numbers reached into the hundreds during the 1950s and 60s.

"In producing this design," wrote designer Alan Buchanan in Yachting World, March 1957, "I have not attempted to do anything startling or revolutionary, but have tried to produce a good, straightforward boat with good performance and accommodation which represents good value for money."

The boat was an East Anglian Restricted Class, a 27ft 9in (8.5m) LOA cruising yacht with a long tall Bermudan sloop rig. Buchanan designed it for a committee of yachtsmen who represented the yacht clubs on the East Coast. The yachtsmen wanted a comfortable cruising boat for four people which was shallow draughted, yet seaworthy enough for the short steep seas of the East Coast. The resulting design was a slight adaption of an earlier design which Buchanan drew for a competition at the Clyde Cruising Club, and proved to be a popular class.

Sailing cruisers were a speciality of Buchanan's and the East Anglian design was no exception. It exceeded the remit set by the committee of East Coast yachtsmen in that it performed well in a heavy seaway, was a comfortable cruising boat and had a good turn of speed which was sufficient enough for them to do well in races.

Compare the East Anglian with other contemporary designs and you'll find similarities, highlighting what the yachtsmen of the day required. The SCOD (CB152), designed by Nicholson in 1954, shares the same waterline length (21ft [6.4m]), although the East Anglian is 2ft 8in (0.8m) longer overall and has a more elegant profile. Its distinctively bold sheer line sweeps up at the bow and forms a high stem. Although this reduces the amount of freeboard amidships, and consequently headroom, it does give the design good reserve buoyancy ‹ which is important when beating to windward as it makes the boat drier. The sternpost is raked at a steeper angle than the SCOD's and the doghouse is less intrusive.

The East Anglian is also much shallower, drawing just 4ft 6in (1.4m), an important consideration for sailing in shallow East Coast waters. Buchanan's designs are very distinctive and elements of the East Anglian's design can be seen in his other designs: the East Anglian's steeply raked sternpost, for example, is similar to that of the 31ft (9.4m) Taeping which he designed for himself in 1952, although the East Anglian has more length to her keel ‹ 4ft versus 3ft [1.2m versus 0.9m]. The bold sheerline and perky bow echo that of Colleen, a Buchanan design built in 1950 for the Royal Cork Yacht Club (CB131).

The first East Anglian was built at William King's yard in Burnham-on-Crouch in 1957. Construction is solid: carvel mahogany planking on oak frames, the stem and sternpost are oak and the wooden keel 31Ú2in oak or elm. The deck was originally 3/4in (18mm) western red cedar sheathed in canvas and Buchanan kept steel work to a minimum in order to keep the costs down. East Anglians were also built by Dixon's and Kerley's of Maldon until 1971.

The layout down below is straightforward: a galley to port, with a quarter berth saloon with two settee berths amidship, a pipecot in the forepeak and a quarter berth on the starboard side. The original East Anglians were powered by a 4hp Stuart Turner, but this was later increased to 8hp. Incidentally, one reason why Buchanan decided not to make the East Anglian a one-design class was because he thought it would limit the choice of engine, plus restrict modifications. The East Anglian was designed to appeal to both cruising and racing yachtsmen and a one-design would not have allowed this.

The sail plan is modest; 275sqft (25m2), yet the boats perform well in light winds. It later increased to 307sqft (28m2).