CS27250BBy Paul Howard

Are you searching for a second-hand boat for under $20,000, with a diesel inboard, a comfortable interior, standing headroom and good club-racing performance? In my opinion, there are few well-known production boats that meet this description. The Mirage 26/27, for example, has a gas OMC Saildrive inboard; the C&C 27 has the Atomic IV (also gasoline) inboard. And although the Bayfield 25 has an inboard diesel, it falls short on headroom and club performance. Camper and Nicholsons’ design The Cs 27, designed in 1975 by Raymond Wall, is a boat that fits this bill perfectly. Wall, from the respected British design house of Camper and Nicholsons, drew the lines of three cruiser/racers – for CS Yachts Ltd. in Brampton, ON. The first of Wall’s boats for Canadian Sailcraft, the design brief of the 27 called for a family cruiser, with racing performance under the International Offshore Rule (IOR).

With a narrow, tucked-up stern and pronounced tumblehome amidships, Wall’s hull shape is strongly influenced by the IOR. Telltale marking other telltale markings of the 27 are high topsides and flat sheer, although the aluminum toe rail is higher at the bow than at the stern, and dips to its lowest point amidships. A contrasting coloured stripe in any combination of red, "Nicholsons’ blue" or yellow, camouflages the height of the topsides. The reverse sheer on the transom is about 10 degrees from vertical, and the outboard rudder is well-proportioned. CS Yachts "no-wood-trim-on-the-exterior styling" began with the 27, so that the companionway drop-boards and tiller are the only wood on deck. The boat’s profile is contemporary and sleek, although the tucker-up stern and bustle fin, leading from the aft edge of the keel to the lower bearing on a partially-supported outboard spade rudder, seem dated by today’s standards. "The original moulds were built in England," says Pat Sturgeon of Pat Sturgeon Yachts, a factory sales person at CS Yachts for many years. "The bulkheads were glassed to the hull all around their periphery, which was unusual in boats of this size," Sturgeon added, "and it was one of the first models to have an all-fibreglass grid system incorporated with the cabin sole to stiffen the hull. The CS 27 was built as a robust, ocean-going boat."

The first hull was delivered in 1975, and production continued into 1983, with about 480 built. With a ballast/displacement ratio of .39, the deep keel version had a 2,400 lb. Cast-iron fin keel bolted to the hull. The optional shoal draft model had a longer bolt-on lead keel casting weighing 2,800 lbs., for a ballast/displacement ratio of .43. It is interesting to note that around 90 boats were fitted with these lead fins. The displacement/length ratio is about 200, which places the 27 in the moderate displacement category.

In 1977, the rudder area was increased, so CS offered owners a rudder retrofit kit that added two inches to the forward edge to improve helm balance. Three years later, the mast was changed from a Proctor to an Isomat section, the fibreglass cabin sole was replaced with teak and holly, and cupboard doors were finished with woven cane fronts. Further, the YSE Yanmar horizontal cylinder diesel engine was changed to a 1GM Yanmar—a smoother, higher-revving engine with similar output. The Balsa-core deck and coachroof age well on the 27, and do not suffer from the chronic deck problems of many other boats with early balsa-core decks. Unfortunately, there is no bow roller for an anchor-locker forward. Still, most 27s have a hawsepipe near the bow cleats that leads the rode to the fore peak below.

The interior layout has the galley and navigation station aft, with no room for a quarter berth under that deep cockpit in the narrow stern. The stove and sink are to starboard, with a poorly insulated ice box providing the base for a nav station to port. Although the CS brochure boasts about six feet of headroom in the salon, my head presses on the overhead liner. (Did I mention that I am 5 ft. 11 in.?) A shallow u-shaped dinette with a folding/pivoting table sits to port. This dining area can be converted to a small double berth. A straight settee/berth faces the dinette, with the foot extending into the hanging locker forward to give an overall length of 6 ft. 6 in. With the table tucked away, the salon is comfortable for lounging. Forward, there is a second CS Yachts multiple-folding, multi-purpose piece of work, which serves as a door to screen of the forepeak and head. Holding tank capacity 32 gallons – twice the capacity of the fresh water tank! Don Stark is a stalwart of Etobicoke Yacht Club’s CS 27 fleet in Toronto. In his eleventh year of sailing his 1977 (no. 224) model, Stark previously raced his CS 22 to a Lake Ontario championship in the late ‘70s. He also raced as skipper on Genco Sail’s Express 30 "loft team" for several years. "When I was sailing the Express, I saw that the CS 27 was a good heavy-air boat that could point, and was quite competitive on the race course," says Stark. "After shopping around, I finally bought my boat for $27,000 in 1986." Stark chose his boat because it was epoxy-tarred below the waterline prior to launch to prevent osmotic blistering. This boat’s propensity to blister is well known on the second-hand market, and many 27s have had their gel coat stripped before undergoing an epoxy barrier coat treatment. I estimate that nearly 50 per cent of these boats have suffered from the boat "pox" at one time. The CS 27 PHRF rating is 216 sec./mile in white sail, or 198 when flying a spinnaker. As a comparison, the C&C 27 MK I and MK II rate 198 and 192 respectively, while the Mirage 26 and 27 are listed at 219 and 198. Stark says that it is easy to get the boat moving at five and a quarter knots when going to windward, and no comparable boat can out-point it to weather. Stark is 6 ft. 3 in. tall, yet he finds the interior comfortable and roomy, and he spends most summer weekend aboard. He told me that narrow side decks and high topsides are "the price he has to pay" for this comfort.

"I shifted my mast to the furthest-forward hole in the mast step to alleviate weather helm. To eliminate the rake, I had to extend the back stay tang. Now Sereena has a light helm, and Stark steers with two fingers on the tiller. "In my opinion," says Stark, "the CS 27 is a delightful boat."

Originally published in Canadian Yachting's Regatta 1996 issue.


LOA 27 ft.

LWL 23 ft. 11 in.

Draft 5 ft. 2in.

Ballast 2,400 lbs.

Displacement 6,100 lbs.

Sail Area 299 sq. ft.