UFO 34 is a cruising and racing fibreglass monohull sailboat class. It is a sloop based on a design by Holman and Pye.[2] The design features a spade rudder and a Bermuda rig with a large, overlapping headsail. Over 150 UFO 34s have been built both in the United Kingdom and Australia.[1]

UFO 34[1]
UFO 34 Yacht Amadeus.jpg
A UFO 34 built in West Australia +
DesignerHolman & Pye
NameUFO 34[1]
Crew1 to 6
Crew1 to 6
Draft1.86 metres (6 ft 1 in)
TypeMonohull keelboat
LOA10.54 metres (34.6 ft)
LWL8.56 metres (28.1 ft)
Beam3.35 metres (11.0 ft)
Total sail area47.47 metres (155.7 ft)

The UFO 34 is a seaworthy yacht for offshore voyages, including extreme weather conditions, which also performs well in yacht racing. UFO 34 yachts competed both in the disastrous 1979 Fastnet and 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht races, where lives and yachts were lost in the extreme conditions.[3][4] UFO 34s performed effectively in both races, winning class IV in the Fastnet race and retiring without incident in the Sydney to Hobart.[5][6]

Production historyEdit

Unidentified Flying Object won the Royal Yacht Squadron's de Maas Cup at Cowes in 1974 and many other races.[2][7] This first yacht was designed for Richard Matthews by the British naval architects Holman and Pye[8] as a 32 ft prototype for the Three-Quarter Ton class in the International Offshore Rule. The design was developed into the UFO 34, which became the first yacht produced by Matthew's company Oyster Marine.[8] Over 150 were built, both in the United Kingdom and Australia.[2][1]

In the United Kingdom builders included Colvic Craft (hull & deck), Landamores Yacht Builders (fitout) plus a number were completed by owners.[1][8][7] A mark II version was also released by Oyster Marine incorporating an external ballast keel with either a racing/cruising keel (5,000 lbs) or a racing keel (6,000 lbs).[9]

In Western Australia builders included Durben Marine, AYC Yacht Construction and Sea Craft Marine.[10]

Racing achievementsEdit

UFO 34s are raced at club level both in the United Kingdom and Australia.[7][11] By modern standards a UFO 34 is a moderate to heavy yacht[12] with good performance, particularly to windward.[13] Racing performance is similar to S&S 34s[14] with both rated the same and slightly faster than a Contessa 32.[15][7] UFO 34s also regularly compete in offshore races in Western Australia.[16][11]

'Not Negotiable' a UFO 34 that successfully competed in many ocean races in Australia

A UFO 34 based in Australia called Not Negotiable had a number of good results in offshore racing, including 2000 Melbourne - King Island. PHD (1st Overall) & IMS (2nd Overall), 2001 Melbourne - Low Head (Tasmania) 2nd PHD Overall, the 1998, 1999 & 2000 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races, the 2004 Australian Three Peaks Race the 2009 Launceston to Hobart and more recently the 2013 Fremantle to Bali yacht race.[7][13][17] The UFO 34 Impulse also won her division in the 1999 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.[18] UFO 34s also had good results in the 1993 Fremantle to Lombok (Indonesia) yacht race with Amadeus winning IMS honours (1st overall) and Vela taking out the YAH trophy (1st overall).[19]

As detailed below, the UFO 34s Black Arrow finished 1st and Mahuri 3rd in class IV of the 1979 Fastnet race.[5][20]

Notable voyagesEdit

A UFO 34 yacht sailing

A proven cruising yacht that has extensively sailed around Great Britain, the Baltic and North Sea and Mediterranean.[11] UFO 34 yachts have also participated in the 630 nautical mile Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race[13] and the 1,460 nautical mile Fremantle-to-Lombok Yacht Race.[19]

In May 1979 the UFO 34 Windrift of Clyde sailed from Scotland to Iceland and encountered severe weather conditions, estimated at a sustained 60 knots plus for over 24 hours. During this period the yacht suffered severe knockdowns and capsized twice, including being pitch-poled. Despite some damage and injuries to crew, the yacht was able to sail to Iceland without assistance. A very good summary of the voyage is detailed in the fifth edition of Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing.[21]


UFO 34s are seaworthy yachts that have few vices and make a good all-round fast cruiser/racers.[12][7] The UFO 34's stability index has been calculated at 122.4 with a Limit of positive stability of 119.1,[6] which is above the minimum stability index of 115 required for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.[22]

Six UFO 34s competed in the 1979 Fastnet race,[23] which experienced winds averaging 50 to 55 knots, gusts to 68 knots and waves as high as 50 feet.[24] None of them sustained significant structural damage to the hull.[25] Among the 58 boats in Class IV (34 ft), two of the six finishing yachts were UFO 34s: Black Arrow finishing 1st and Mahuri 3rd.[20] Three of the other UFO 34s retired without major incidents. Apart from two knockdowns Kamisado coped effectively with the storm and retired to Plymouth.[26][27] The only UFO 34 that had significant issues was Sandettie, which was rolled, dismasted and swamped. However Sandettie's crew were able to jury rig emergency rigging and sail to Lands End, where they were towed to Penzance.[11]

During the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race the UFO 34 Not Negotiable experienced winds in excess of 65 knots (33 m/s, 118 km/h, 73 mph, Force 12) for approximately 6–8 hours.[28] During this period breaking waves of 4–8 metres, with the occasional 12 metre wave were also encountered. Apart from one knockdown to 80 degrees, Not Negotiable had no issues and safely retired to Eden.[6] The main technique utilised was to "...keeping our nose into it and ploughing forward and just ducking and weaving around the worst of the waves worked for us fine".[28] Note that this is similar to the successful storm tactics employed by the UFO 34 Windrift of Clyde when the yacht was actively sailed with the bow into the sea.[29]

See alsoEdit

Similar sailboats



  1. ^ a b c d "UFO 34". Sailboat Data. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Previous Models: UFO". Oyster Yachts. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  3. ^ Forbes, Laing & Myatt 1979.
  4. ^ Bruce 2004, p. 31.
  5. ^ a b "The 2015 Awards - The OCC Port Office Medal" (PDF). Ocean Cruising Club. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Abernethy 2000, Vol 9A - Yachts Without Incidents, Record of Interview - Dolphin, Michael J, Owner Not Negotiable, 18 April 1999.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "UFO 34 cruiser-racer". www.yachtnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "History". Landamores Yacht Builders. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Oyster Marine Press Release". ybw.com. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  10. ^ Campbell 1979, p. 85.
  11. ^ a b c d "UFO News: The place for sailors and everyone else interested in the UFO 34". UFONEWS. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  12. ^ a b Bruce 2004, p. 198.
  13. ^ a b c "Not Negotiable". Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  14. ^ Torvaldsen, Simon. "Thoughts on Sparkman and Stephens 34". Blue Water Boats. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  15. ^ "CYCA Classes Database". The Clyde Yacht Clubs’ Association. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Ocean Classic: Dirk Hartog Race & Rally Programme" (PDF). South of Perth Yacht Club. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Not Negotiable re-negotiates her position". Fremantle to Bali Yacht Race. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Results 1999 Race IMS Div D". Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Event History". Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  20. ^ a b Ward 2008, pp. 269.
  21. ^ Bruce 2004, p. 195-200.
  22. ^ "Notice of Race: 2016 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race" (PDF). Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  23. ^ Forbes, Laing & Myatt 1979, pp. 18.
  24. ^ Forbes, Laing & Myatt 1979, pp. 21.
  25. ^ Forbes, Laing & Myatt 1979, pp. 11.
  26. ^ "The day we fought for our lives". Dorset Echo. 14 August 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  27. ^ Rider, David. "ECHO ZULU, Frers CM45" (PDF). ROLEX FASTNET RACE 2013 SELECTED STORY LEADS. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  28. ^ a b Abernethy 2000, Vol 9B - Yachts Without Incidents, Record of Interview - Lawrence, Mark A, Crew Not Negotiable, 18 April 1999.
  29. ^ Bruce 2004, p. 200.