Are Hunter Sailboats Any Good? (My Honest Experience)

There are a ton of different sailboat brands in the world today. Trying to decide which one is best, is no easy task. It comes down to a bit of fact and personal opinion, but that’s my opinion.

Hunter is a very well-known brand of sailboats. Hunter sailboats are a good boat depending on your needs and what you will be using your boat for primarily. They were designed as a more budget-friendly boat with all of the basic features needed for good coastal cruising.

The debate about whether a Hunter sailboat is good or not has been going on since the company started and there are a lot of pros and cons out there on the sailboat forums. This article is going to go over Hunters and cover as many of the pros and cons as possible. There will be facts and my personal opinion throughout this article. I just want to cover as much as possible so you will have the knowledge you need when considering a Hunter.

The History Of Hunter Sailboats

In the 1800s Henry Luhrs, a German immigrant, outfitted trading ships. He continued to work on boats his whole life and eventually passed the skills on to his grandson. His grandson was also named Henry and continued the family trade on the Jersey coast, building and repairing recreational and fishing boats. After a while, Henry and his sons started the Hunter Company in 1973 in Alachua, Florida, as a sailboat manufacturer.

Luhrs was the owner of the company, but the early boat designs were done by a man named John E. Cherubini. One of the most recognizable boats of the Hunter legacy is the Cherubini Hunter 30. In my opinion, this is a fantastic boat.

Towards the end of the 1980s, the company did run into trouble. Luhrs was not necessarily running the company at this time, he was out sailing the world and had let a board of management take over. The management team had started to run the company into the ground. They did this by only offering a 1-year warranty, poorly built boats, and terrible customer service for its customers. This would be sure to end any company. Luhrs, with fear his company would go under, decided to return immediately and address the issues at hand. He decided to do a whole restructuring of production and decided extending the warranty from one year to five years would be a good start. Luhrs also hired Canadian designer Rob Mazza in 1991 to take over the design and coordinate the production process. These many steps and others helped get the company back on track.

Hunter is responsible for several market innovations, including their trademark stainless steel cockpit arch and their use of the B&R rig. The B&R rig uses swept spreaders that are usually angled aft, together with “stays” running diagonally downward from the tip of the spreaders to the attachment of the next pair of spreaders to the mast or to the intersection of the mast with the deck, that facilitates a pre-bend of the mast (curving aft).

In 2012 Hunter Marine entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was sold in August 2012 to David E. Marlow, owner of Marlow Yachts and the name changed to Marlow-Hunter, LLC.

Marlow-Hunter continues to produce sailboats to this day and I must say….they are beautiful designs.

Before we start the debate about whether Hunter sailboats are good or not, let’s look at one or two of their better models.

Cherubini Hunter 30

The Cherubini Hunter 30 is one of the most recognizable Hunters out there today. They were first built in the year 1973 and were made until the year1983. Roughly a thousand of these boats were made and you can find them all over the world.

Here are some more facts about the Hunter 30.

  • Hull Type: Fin with rudder on skeg
  • Rigging Type: Masthead Sloop
  • LOA: 30.40 ft / 9.27 m
  • Displacement: 9,700 lb / 4,400 kg
  • Beam: 10.17 ft / 3.10 m

I have personally sailed on this boat and I found it to be very solid and a great all-around boat. I sailed it in the Gulf of Mexico and the bays around the area and it was always a great experience.

When sailing it felt very sturdy in the water. I never got the feeling that we were being pushed off course in the slightest. There were also a few times that we heeled over and put the rails in the water and it handled that just fine. From the outside, the boat is very recognizable with its unique design, but the cabin below is quite a common layout and design.

I feel like the cabin resembles most 30-foot boats of that time period. There might have been a touch more space in the overall design than other boats but the look and feel are all the same if you compare it to a Catalina or O’Day of the same time period. That is my personal opinion of course.

Would I purchase one of these for myself? I would definitely consider it. They are a great design and very solid. I don’t think I would have any problems with this boat, whether I was sailing it on a lake or across the Atlantic. Some will say it is not a bluewater boat, but I have read plenty of articles about people actually sailing in the bluewater. It just comes down to the captain and what you are comfortable with.

Let’s look at another type of Hunter, the Hunter 37 Legend!

The Hunter 37 Legend

This boat is a less commonly seen Hunter but still a very impressive one. Warren Luhrs was the designer of this vessel. It was not in production long just from 1986 to 1988, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good design. This design gets great reviews from the internet and has a great design for speed and comfort. I have only researched this one and watched videos about it. I would very much like to sail one of these someday, but they are not very common as I mentioned.

  • Hull Type: Fin w/spade rudder
  • Rigging Type: Fractional Sloop
  • LOA: 37.50 ft / 11.43 m
  • LWL: 31.33 ft / 9.55 m
  • Beam: 12.83 ft / 3.91 m
  • S.A. (reported): 704.00 ft2 / 65.40 m2
  • Draft (max): 6.67 ft / 2.03 m
  • Displacement: 14,900 lb / 6,759 kg

To get a better look at this boat please take a look at the video below. It is a quick overview of the boat itself.

After researching this boat, I would very much like to have it. This one has a ton of great features and would be perfect for some long weekend sail trips with a good group of friends. If you find a good deal on this one, I would take a second look.

Let us address one of the bigger issues in the next section, which is the bad reviews Hunter sailboats get.

Why Do Hunter Sailboats Get Such Bad Reviews? Personal Opinion

I have done a lot of research and read a lot of forums about Hunter sailboats online and they tend to get a bad rap. There are a lot of discussions about how they are cheaply made and won’t handle open ocean sailing, but I have seen videos of them handling it just fine. Maybe people have had bad experiences with a Hunter before?

There are also bad reviews on certain designs which make sense. Not every sailboat that Hunter has produced, is something I would consider. That can be said about every boat company. I’m sure even Catalina (my favorite brand) has a bad design here or there. One of the complaints was a Hunter sailboat designed without a backstay. This is very upsetting to some sailors and I would have to agree.

The backstay is what helps hold up the back end of the boom when sailing. Technically the mainsail does this as well but the backstay helps keep the shape much better. I have lowered the sail before without a backstay and you have to be very careful because your boom is going to drop right into the cockpit if you don’t have some other means of support. Some people may have a good reason for no backstay, maybe in a racing condition, but for casual life on the water, I definitely want one.

I wouldn’t rule out Hunters just for this or maybe one bad experience on one, you need to give the Hunter brand a chance. Everybody has an opinion on the internet and a lot of them will be against Hunter sailboats. That’s the internet for you though. The internet can say whatever it wants about anything in this world, even if it doesn’t have good evidence. That’s why I think personal experience is the best evidence here.

Take car brands for example. So many people will say don’t buy a ford or a chevy or dodge because it will break down on you. To be clear, every brand of car has had models broken down on them. It is not necessarily the brand, it’s the improper care of the vehicle or a random breakdown of an engine part. The brand itself still makes good vehicles you just had bad luck.

That is why I say you need to try out a few Hunters before claiming them to be a terrible boat.

The last thing I will say about this subject is that I have met multiple Hunter sailboat owners and they have loved their boats. I have not met one captain who owned a Hunter and did not like it. I only found out about their bad reviews by going online and researching them. Take all of this with a grain of salt though, I am just giving you my honest opinion. Check out the video below for another opinion on Hunter sailboats. This is a great video, be sure to check out his channel as well.

Final Thoughts

This article talked about Hunter sailboats and if they are any good. The history of the Hunter brand was discussed and is currently named Marlow-Hunter because the Marlow Yacht company purchased Hunter in 2011. We discussed the Cherubini 30 and the 37 Legend, both of which are great boats in my opinion. That was a big topic in the last section of this article, opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that’s what keeps these great sailboat discussions going. We need these great discussions to keep going and fill our minds with as much knowledge as possible. Get out there and talk to people with Hunter sailboats to get the most information you possibly can. I hope this article provided you with some Hunter knowledge to help you in your sailing life. Cheers!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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