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'Sailing Review', Yachting Monthly, 1977

With the modern trend of yesterday's racing boats becoming today's cruiser's or cruiser/racers, it was a refreshing change when Camper & Nicholsons introduced the Nicholson 31 as a pure cruiser at the 1976 Earls Court Boat Show.  Although at first sight, with her long keel, she seems very similar to her older sister, the ever popular, classic Nicholson 32, she is very much a more modern boat.  Unashamedly a cruising boat, owing nothing to rating formulae and current trends, the emphasis in the design is on comfort and seakindliness, rather than speed (not that she is a sluggard in any way).  She is very solidly constructed and has been put together to the standard that one has traditionally come to expect of her builders.

Performance under sail

Conditions at the time of the review sail, although not the most pleasant (cold north-easterly Force 5), were ideal for putting a boat of this type through her paces.  Most bad traits would have shown up in these conditions and the Nicholson 31 showed just how much of a thoroughbred she is by no vices and indeed demonstrating many very desirable characteristics for a cruising boat.  She proved to be as good, if not better mannered, as any boat I have reviewed for Yachting Monthly.

Under the main alone she could be easily controlled and tacked, ideal for close quarters manoeuvring, and if the helm was left she slowly luffed up, tacked sailed off a little, luffed and tacked again, virtually marking time on the same spot.  Ideal for the shorthanded sailor working  up for'd or just jilling around.  With two rolls in the main and the No. 1 jib we sailed her out into the Solent on a beam reach and she sailed along quite happily at about 6 knots and although she was overcanvased in the gusts there was only a little weather helm - just enough to remind the helmsman that another reef might be needed.

Having put a further three rolls in the main we hardened up on to the wind and it was on this point of sailing that she showed her real forte.  There was a very short stopping sea but she kept on sailing, her weight giving her the power to drive through it at a steady 4 knots.  She was very well balanced, even when laid fairly far over and she could be left to steer herself for long periods, only luffing up slightly but carrying on sailing.  She was surprisingly dry too, with no more than the occasional splash reaching the weather deck and nothing finding its way past the dodgers and into the cockpit.  Above all, she gave a great feeling of surefootedness and confidence.  A Hydrovane self-steering gear is offered as an option and it should be quite enough for this boat.


The Nicholson 31 is a very worthy addition to the Nicholson range and she easily fulfils her role as a comfortable and easily handled cruising boat of the go-anywhere variety.  Everywhere she is strongly built to a very high standard.  With a boat this good there has to be a snag and that is her price which makes her considerable more expensive than most boats of her size - but then if you want the best you've got to pay for it.