1981 Tartan 33 vs. 1987 Cal 33 - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-30-2011
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1981 Tartan 33 vs. 1987 Cal 33

I'm curious about the opinions of others comparing these two boats. First the numbers per sailboatdata.com:

Tartan 33: Cal 33:

LOA: 33'8" LOA: 33'0'
LWL: 28'10" LWL: 27'6"
Disp: 10,000 Disp: 10,800
Ballast: 4,400 Ballast: 4,750
Draft: 4'5" Draft: 4'8"
SA: 531 sqft SA: 555 sqft
SA/Disp: 18.41 SA/Disp: 18.24
Beam: 11' Beam: 11'4"


There is good information on the Tartan 33 available including reviews in Practical Sailor as well as a review by an owner (Tartans in the Middle by J.R. Smith).

There is much less information on the Cal 33 of this vintage. This is a Raymond Hunt rather than Bill Lapworth design.

Some posters from 2003 indicated the Cal 33 may be a good light to moderate air sailor, but may not be good in heavy weather. The reason why was not clear. By contrast, the Tartan 33 is a boat that if in proper condition was considered by Sparkman and Stephens to be offshore capable (and thus capable of heavy weather sailing). Given the review of the numbers above, these boats appear to be very similar. So what would account the different view of these boats abilities over the variety of sailing conditions? Misperception? Some other important difference between the two boats?

Does build quality enter into the picture? I know Jeff H made a post in 2003 indicating that the 1980's was not the best time for build quality for Cal without specifically referencing the Cal 33. Anyone able to elaborate more on the build quality issues of the 1980's Cals?
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Old 11-30-2011
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The boats are vary comparable, and either would serve well as a coastal cruiser. neither is an offshore boat, not to say they would not survive an offshore trip...

The Cal is a newer design and very sweet to sail, particularly roomy down below, and has an all glass hull...

I'd pick between based on personal appeal and relative fit for your purpose.
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Not offshore capable, but durable

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Originally Posted by sailingfool View Post
The boats are vary comparable, and either would serve well as a coastal cruiser. neither is an offshore boat, not to say they would not survive an offshore trip...

The Cal is a newer design and very sweet to sail, particularly roomy down below, and has an all glass hull...

I'd pick between based on personal appeal and relative fit for your purpose.
I wouldn't think either boat would be good choices for offshore passages, but the question is more of their durability in handling heavy weather on extended coastal cruises. Perhaps, say, you can't make it to a port of refuge and must weather a storm. Some of this depends on the condition of the given model.

Given that these boats are very comparable, I would think they would fit similar purposes.
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Old 11-30-2011
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I believe the T33 is a fractional rig... with the benefits of smaller headsails and somewhat easier handling that comes with that...
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Fractional Rig

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I believe the T33 is a fractional rig... with the benefits of smaller headsails and somewhat easier handling that comes with that...
Yes, this version of the Tartan 33 is the fractional rig. The later, racing version of the boat were masthead sloop rigs. Fewer of these racing versions of the T33 were made.
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Old 12-01-2011
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I own a Cal 33-2 and the Tartan 33/34-2 was also on my short list when I was shopping a couple years ago. Here's my read on the two. Both are similar, but as was noted the Cal is a newer Hunt design while the Tartan is an older S&S design. Both are coastal cruisers, but examples of each have made extensive Caribbean cruises. The Cal is quicker (PHRF 132-138) compared to the T33 (156) and is a very good light air performer. Either is capable of handling some pretty rough weather if properly prepared. I am impressed with the build quality of my Cal 33 and would call it essentially a wash with Tartans, Pearsons and Sabres of the same vintage.

The big difference is in the interiors. The Cal 33-2 has a fantastic layout for a boat her size. Spacious, attractive, nice galley, huge double quarterberth with privacy curtain (no aft coffin here!), and the best engine access I have ever seen in a sailboat. There are three different Tartan interiors - two for the T33 and another for the T34-2. Only the T34-2 comes close to competing with the Cal.

All in all I am delighted with the boat. Experienced sailors that go out with me have nothing but good things to say about how she sails. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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Old 12-12-2011
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I have a 1986 Cal 33. Sail on the Central Coast of California and SF bay. Great boat of reasonable quality. We have a lot of wind and swell out here.
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