Pearson 31 Community

For Pearson 31 Owners and Enthusiasts

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In 1977 Bill Shaw further increased the versatility of the Pearson line with the Pearson 31 Sloop. As a point of clarification this model is not to be confused with the P31-2 which was a new design a decade later. The original P31 design combined the latest thinking in a go-fast hull configuration with a manageable 7/8'ths fractional rig to take advantage of IOR racing rules, while still providing comfortable accomodations. It was produced as the first P31 design from 1977 to 1978 with 65 boats built.

The boat was redesigned as the P32 in 1979 with a masthead rig and larger cockpit. This model no longer met IOR rules and was in production until 1982.

In 1987 the Pearson 31-2 went into production as a new design by Bill Shaw, who said; "With ample sail area proportioned into a powerful rig, and a contemporary hull with modern appendages, the new P31 has already shown her abilities as a fast boat". It was produced until 1991 and available with a standard or shoal draft wing keel. Hull number 268 was the last boat out of the Portsmouth factory before closing for good in 1991 (In 1996 Cal-Pearson re-introduced the P31 during a short lived revival of the Pearson brand).

Pearson 31 (1977 Model) – By The Numbers


LOA (Overall Length) 31'
LWL (Waterline Length) 25'
Beam 10.6'
Draft 5.5'
Displacement** 9,400 lbs
Ballast 3,800 lbs
Sail Area 465 sq ft
Mast Height (above D.W.L.)
Cockpit Length
Auxillary Power Diesel
Foretriangle Area 206 sq ft
Mainsail Area 258 sq ft
I - Foretriangle Height 35'
J = Foretriangle Base 11.8'
P - Mainsail Hoist 39'
E - Mainsail Foot 13.3'

Technical Data

Designer Bill Shaw
Years Built 1978 - 1981
Hull Speed 6.70
SA/D - Sail Area to Displacement 16.7
DLR or D/L - Displacement to Length Ratio 269
BR – Ballast Ratio 40%
L/B – Length to Ballast 2.93
LWL/B – Waterline Length to Ballast 2.36
OR – Overhang Ratio 19%
CSF – Capsize Screening Formula 2.01
MCR – Motion Comfort Ratio 23.3
M/F – Main to Foretriangle Ratio 1.25
PHRF (avg) – Performance Handicap Rating 174


P31 P31 (1977 Model)
The Pearson 31 was a fun boat to design. All boats are fun, but this one represented a real challenge. What I wanted was a contemporary hull and rig that would race well under a variety of rules, be simple to handle and still provide her owners with most of the comforts associated with cruising. In short, an up-to-date dual purpose boat with a great degree of versatility. For those intent on racing performance, she would react admirabley; and for those who prefer the pure delight of cruising, she should deliver most of the comforts of home.
There's no question that a contemporary hull can go faster if her accommodations resemble a giant sail bin that doubles as a place to get out of the weather or to grab a sandwich between tacks. But, an honest dual purpose boat has got to perform both over the course and belowdecks. Therein lies the challenge. The new 31 has met the confrontation head-on and won in all respects. She is fast, a delight to maneuver, luxurious belowdecks has proven her versatility by winning trophies under three widely divergent rating rules. Her non-masthead rig makes headsail handling a cinch at no sacrifice to area; is more adaptable to changes in wind velocity; reduces the cost of genoas, and provides a lower rating under many rules. Interestingly enough, recent testing indicates that this lower rating is non-commensurate with an equivalent loss in speed.
Belowdecks the 31 has 5 full length berths (optionally 6), an aft galley, fold-away drop leaf table, an enclosed head and a luxurious teak intererior that makes apres race that much more delightful.
So if your plans call for getting the attention of the fleet at your home club or association (and your 1st Mate) and doing it in a comfortable cruising boat of Pearson quality, Come Sail With Us...

Sincerely, Bill Shaw

Marketing Description – 1977

The new Pearson 31 was designed for the sailor who thinks winning races in a skinned out racing machine is a hollow victory. She’s the boat that gives you the ability to win comfortably, without being a financial loser. In an era of bare bones racing machines that tend to lose their value as fast as they are sailed, the Pearson 31 promises you speed along with comfort and luxury…at a price that’s as sensible as the idea behind her design. Two important advantages of the 7/8ths rig : a significantly lower rating under many rules for the racer, and easier sail handling for the cruiser. A lot of thought went into designing the T-shaped cockpit. Note how it lets the crew pass easily on either side of the wheel…without disturbing the helmsman. Any navigator is always more comfortable knowing where he’s going. He’s especially comfortable on the 31. In the 31, the pleasure of sailing hasn’t taken precedence over the joy of cooking. This U-shaped galley will please even the most ambitious on-board chef. For the enthusiastic sailor, boat speed intensifies the pure pleasure of sailing. To command the attention of your associates through a unique combination of performance both above and below decks is a satisfaction all its own. The Pearson 31 delights in this dual purpose. In a sense Bill Shaw’s Pearson 31 is two different boats. Beneath the surface of the water she’s hydrodynamically contemporary, revealing today’s latest design innovations. Inside, she’s a roomy luxurious yacht built with typical Pearson attention to quality. The 31 sails beautifully, but that’s only half the fun. A main salon like this is what makes arriving at a distant anchorage worthwhile. The athwartships toilet room features pullout vanity; privacy doors, hanging locker and stowage alcoves. Gear stowage above and below the berth, a V-filler that makes into a seat, and a privacy door…all make the forward cabin very comfortable. Recipe for fun: mix one brisk day and a new Pearson 31 together. Enjoy to the fullest. For the sailor who likes to cruise, race, or do both, the Pearson 31 has a winning way about her.

Pearson 31–2 (1987 Model) – By The Numbers


LOA (Overall Length) 30.8'
LWL (Waterline Length) 25.4'
Beam 10.8'
Draft 5.6' [4' Wing]
Displacement** 10,000 lbs [10,200]
Ballast 3,800 lbs [4,000]
Sail Area 494 sq ft
Mast Height (above D.W.L.) 46.3'
Cockpit Length
Auxillary Power Diesel
Foretriangle Area 273 sq ft
Mainsail Area 221 sq ft
I - Foretriangle Height 42.5'
J = Foretriangle Base 12.8'
P - Mainsail Hoist 36.8'
E - Mainsail Foot 12.0'

Technical Data

Designer Bill Shaw
Years Built 1987 - 1991
Hull Speed 6.75
SA/D - Sail Area to Displacement 17
DLR or D/L - Displacement to Length Ratio 272
BR – Ballast Ratio 38%
L/B – Length to Ballast 2.86
LWL/B – Waterline Length to Ballast 2.36
OR – Overhang Ratio 17%
CSF – Capsize Screening Formula 2.00
MCR – Motion Comfort Ratio 24
M/F – Main to Foretriangle Ratio 0.81
PHRF (avg) – Performance Handicap Rating 156/165


P31 P31-2 (1987 Model)
Today we hear a lot about contemporary and traditional values as they apply to the many facets of our lifestyles. When these concepts are applied to yacht design, I have never considered them to be mutually exclusive.
On the traditional side, the basic principles of hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, and human engineering continue to apply. Regardless of how you use your boat, the back to basics approach used by our designers insures you, the owner, that your boat will perform over a wide range of conditions and still provide engineered comfort even at the dock.
The contemporary ingredient in the new P31 manifests itself in the form of a new elliptical keel in the standard version, or an optional wing keel that provides shallower draft. The P31's interior arrangement is traditional, but with a few new twists. Aft there is a huge open quarterberth that extends under the cockpit, spacious galley with unusually good storage to port, and a clever combination ice box/chart table to starboard. In the salon there is an offset centerline table which makes moving fore 'n aft easier, a spacious dinette, which converts to a double berth without using the table, and again, plenty of storage. Further forward, there is a roomy head with shower, and still further forward an exceptionally spacious V-berth area.
On deck, the basic elements composed of cockpit, cabin trunk, etc., are still there naturally, but rather than simply translating wooden shapes with hard edges into fiberglass form, as so many others do, we have exploited the virtues of fiberglass with contoured seats that fit the human form and deck styling that fits the wind.
Equally important to the cruiser or racer is the boat as a performer. With ample sail area proportioned into a powerful rig, and a contemporary hull with modern appendages, the new P31 has already shown her abilities as a fast boat. A very important factor even for those of us who never race. Come Sail With Us...

Sincerely, Bill Shaw

P31 Resources

Original documents and drawings from Pearson Yachts. The old website pearson31.com is up but no longer supported and the forum is non-functional. If anyone knows who the webmaster is (or domain owner) please email us so we can attempt to recover any pertinent information.

P31 External Website Links

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