Hunter has a new chief designer: Rob Mazza. Does that name sound familiar to you? It should if you've followed yacht design in North America over the last 20 years. Still, Mazza has always been one of the names behind the name, so I have taken it upon myself to give him some due notoriety.

The Hunter 23.5.

The Hunter 23.5.


Boat manufacturer C&C was named after two Georges: Cuthbertson and Cassian. Cassian died an untimely death, and Cuthbertson stayed on before eventually leaving the design department in the hands of two Robs: Ball and Mazza.

As C&C's work slowed down, Rob Mazza left to collaborate with fellow Canadian Mark Ellis. This partnership lasted for seven years until this February when Mazza took over for Ola Wettergren as Hunter's chief designer. I think this background is important so that when you read, "in-house design," you realize that there is still a design pedigree behind the corporate design identity.


When Hunter proposes a new boat, you can be sure they have a market target in mind. This time it seems that they have taken competitive aim at either the MacGregor 26, another water-ballasted trailerable boat, or the Santana 2023 from Schock. The Hunter 23.5 uses a high-aspect ratio centerboard for lift, but relies upon 1,000 pounds of water ballast for its stability.

Now when you think of water ballast, you generally think of tanks located in the quarters, which need to be emptied and filled depending upon which tack you are on. That poses one major problem for small boats: if you are caught on the wrong tack with the wrong tank filled, you are going to explore the small boat's limit of positive stability. Hunter gets around this by having the water ballast tank on centerline in the bilge, starting about station 1.2 and extending aft to station 7.6. The tank is filled at the time of launching by removing a plug and then replacing it when the tank is full. When you haul the boat, you simply remove the plug again and the water drains within two minutes, leaving you with a 2,000-pound boat to trailer.

The D/L with ballast tank full is 136. Looking at the drawings, it is clear that the Hunter group was after their trademark high-volume boat. The stern is very broad and draft is only 18 inches with the board up. The rig is a simple single spreader affair without permanent backstay. Note that the spreaders are well swept aft and that they provide the vector to keep the mast aft. The SA/D is 18.15 using the displacement with the water ballast tank full. One person can raise and lower the spar. The design group has done a nice job of keeping the profile low on this design and keeping the lines clean.

Down below, the 23.5 is a big 23-footer. Actually the LOA is 23.66 feet. There are V-berth forward, a short settee to port, a full-length settee berth to starboard, a huge double quarter-berth and a small galley. The portable head is located under the V-berth and the portable ice chest fits under the port settee.

The Hunter 23.5 offers a good way to return to the simple way of sailing. Powered by an outboard and void of all the mechanical and electrical advantages, it allows you to cruise without an engineer's license.

Boat Specifications
DraftBoard Up 18" Board Down 5'6"
BallastFull ballasted tank 1000 lbs.
DisplacementWithout ballast 2000 lbs.
Sail Area236 sq. ft.
Water5 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.