The new Marlow-Hunter 31 is a cruising sailboat built to a high standard, offering an unusually large amount of space for its length—and with the benefit of a choice of shoal or deep-draft keel.

Marlow Legend 31 Side View

A marked chine in the hull's after sections helps to improve stability and adds volume in this part of the boat.

Key Attributes

Glenn Henderson's design effort on this boat brings new levels of space to a sailing vessel of this size. This is due to a number of factors, including a long hull length – it’s actually 32'4" LOA – coupled with a wide 11'10" beam that’s carried well aft. Headroom stands at 6'1".

Below Decks

There are three wide and secure steps leading down to the saloon. At the foot of the companionway is a wide and open area that emphasizes the volume available in this boat, and will minimize the ‘excuse me’ factor for crew members moving past each other. To starboard is a linear galley, equipped with a pair of top-opening integrated coolers that can be fitted with a refrigerator and freezer. There’s also a gimballed two-burner gas stove-top with oven, a sink, and a microwave. Stowage is generally good, although fixed worktop space is limited.

Saloon – Marlow Legend 31 review

The feeling of space in the saloon can only be rivaled by larger designs.

Forward of the galley is a short settee on the starboard side of the saloon, while opposite this is a larger L-shaped settee that can be converted to a double berth. The two cabins are both of a decent size, with good stowage and room to stand when changing, especially in the forecabin. The head, which is aft on the port side, is also sizable and incorporates a separate stall shower—remarkable in a boat of this size.

On Deck and Performance

The cockpit configuration is unconventional, but manages to pack in a large amount of space as the side seats are moved right out to the edge of the hull. An optional pivoting wheel pedestal that can be swung to either side of the cockpit makes it easy to steer from both the lee or weather sides, while there are decent folding foot-rests that allow you to brace in position when the boat is heeled.

As with other Marlow-Hunters, the mainsheet traveler is mounted on a stainless-steel arch over the back of the cockpit. This makes for easy sail trimming, especially in gusty conditions, while keeping both boom and mainsheet safely clear of the boat’s crew. Another useful feature is the pair of corner seats incorporated in the pushpit on each side of the cockpit.

Deep rope bins integrated in the aft end of the cabin roof will help to keep the cockpit tidy, and there’s also a folding table fitted, standard. The rig is again the backstay-free Bergstrom and Ridder design that has long been utilized by Hunter boats. It's dominated by the mainsail, with a relatively small and therefore easily handled headsail. The three keels are relatively shallow, with even the deep fin version having a draft of only 5'5"—significantly less than that of many contemporary designs of a similar length.

Cockpit – Marlow Legend 31 review

Cockpit space is maximized by pushing the seats right out to the edge of the hull.

Equipment and options

There’s a generally high level of equipment installed as standard, including basic instrumentation, a holding tank, hot and cold pressurized water, and shore power. However, some important items including ground tackle and some safety equipment need to be acquired after purchase.

Key options include the choice of keels, the canting wheel system, and an all-furling rig. The latter has a mast that's more than 5' longer, which keeps the loss of sail area to seven percent compared to the standard rig, which has a large-roached mainsail. There’s also a choice of engines, with the option of a 29 HP diesel in place of the standard 21 HP Yanmar model.

What it does best

Clearly the biggest appeal of this boat is in the space it offers relative to the overall length. Since David Marlow bought the company he has also sought to increase quality throughout the boat, covering everything from hull strength to the final finish.


While there are lots of examples of good design in this boat, there’s no escaping the fact that a relative shallow draft boat of this size won’t be as quick as a more performance-oriented alternative. Granted, in a decent breeze on a reach the rig will develop enough power for the long waterline length to provide a good turn of speed. However, in lighter air and when sailing to windward, the speed will inevitably suffer.

Other Choices: To get a roughly comparable amount of living space you need to look at boats that are badged as being longer. Despite their model names, the Hanse 345 and the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 are close in size and accommodations.

For more information, visit Marlow-Hunter.

See Marlow-Hunter 31 listings.
Draft (shoal/deep)4'5"/5'5"
Sail Area581 sq. ft.
Displacement12,000 lbs
Fuel capacity21 gal.
Water capacity50 gal.

Written by: Rupert Holmes
Rupert Holmes has more than 70,000 miles of offshore cruising and racing experience, in waters ranging from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular new boat and gear tests. He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. He also owns two yachts, one based in the Mediterranean and the other in the UK.