References for the Peterson 34

Sailnet Boatcheck

Owner's Review for 1978 Peterson 34

Author: David Reed

Peterson 34's were built by Composite Technologies in Corpus Christi. "Bacarat" is my second Peterson 34. I sail +/- 100 times a year including 60 to 70 races. The boats are extremely strong, and I have yet to suffer any serious structural problems. I also know of one just back from Hawaii, another in the south seas, and a third about to leave on her 2nd Mexico trip. If they have a weakness, it would be that they are no "Swans" cosmetically.

Sailnet "Buying a Boat" Message Board

Date: Feb. 09 2004 8:10 AM
Author: Silmaril (
I sailed (Raced) one of the Peterson 34 in the late 70's early 80's. The design was based on Doug Peterson's winning "Ganbere" (Don't know if I'm spelling that right) which did indeed win the SORC. Another one, "Not by Bread Alone" won BI Week and much of the silverware in her class on Long Islan Sound. When you are talking about a "Production" Peterson 34, they were built in Texas and were one of the first boats to use composites like kevlar in their hull and stress areas. You can tell the difference between on that was campaigned and one that was ocasionally raced by the fact that the serious races all had tillers, the casual racers had wheels. In addition, the production version from Texas also had a pretty nice interior for a racing design. Hot and cold pressure water, nice wood trim, etc. Look around at the pics in yachtworld, the majority you see are the production boats. You can tell by the similarity of the interiors. Any major deviation from that would make the boat one of the one-off's and not something I would be interested in. They are a heavily IOR influenced design and do have the high aspect mains and huge foretriangle that is common in that era. When raced, they are remarkably influenced by very small rig and sail adjustments. The mast is one of the bendy types that uses the baby stay to affect mainsail shape. Runners were needed in slop to stop mast pumping. They were pretty rugged little boats though. We were comming into the harbor with just the main up at night, when we were caught in a squall that pegged the anamometer at over 60 kts (NOAA later reported micro bursts in excess of 100 kts) we were blown flat, mast to the water and held there for about 5 minutes. Wind died down, boat popped back up, nothing broken, we motored the rest of the way in to our slip. This is one of my favorite racer/cruisers from the late 70's. I think that with the advanced (for its day) construction techniques used in the production models, they have held up very well. With a fresh set of rags, and a competent crew, they are still quite competitive at the club level today. Just remember that they are dip-pole jibes, large foretriangle boats that need some muscle to get the most out of them. They would also make an excellent "Express" cruiser, leaving many of the modern floating condos in her wake.

Boat Design Forums > Design > Sailboats > Peterson 34

Cliff Ruckstuhl asked:

I am looking to buy a 1979 Peterson 34 designed by Doug Peterson. I am not able to find any info on the boat and wanted to know of anybody was familiar with the boat? I know they made about 92 boats and that they were made in Texas. Any info some one could supply I would really appreciate.


Paul B replied:

I know a bit about them, sailed on a couple, built the spar for one, and later worked for the designer.

They were built in Texas by a company called Composite Technology. They were about the same size as a 3/4 Tonner of the time, but with less IOR bumping they rated much higher, about a foot under the One Tonners. The stern was definitly less of a pintail than the pure IOR designs of the time, so it wasn't as squirrely downwind in a breeze. A couple of them remained at the top of their class for a lot of years locally. I think a '79 must have been near the end of the production run.

As time went by we found that adding to the boom length was a key change to getting the boat to really sail well. The original was just over 11 feet, I think. Hopefully the boat you are looking at has had this mod.

Everyone did them [booms] differently. They were all playing with their IOR ratings against the local conditions. Personally, I would make the boom as long as possible without hitting the backstay too much with the roach of the main. Probably add 20% to the length or so. Talk to your sailmaker about it.

One guy had a new boom built because he broke it. Others simply had extensions welded onto the back end to get the extra length. The boom on my current boat has a welded on extension. You might not be able to find the correct section to add on with now, since those extrusions were from 25 - 30 years ago. Probably a Stearns or Superspar rig in the boat, if original. Those guys have been out of business for almost 25 years. Might be a Sparcraft, but they are gone as well.

I don't think CT was the best builder out there, finish work wise. But the boats seemed to have held up pretty well over the years. I've never heard of any real structural problems with them, but I haven't looked at one up close in more than 10 years.

I wouldn't say this design is significantly stiffer than other of her type and vintage. The IOR rule had a steep penalty for excess stability. However, it would be more stable than some other types of boats from that time. Sure isn't "tender". Some post-IOR designs of the same size, like a J35, will be stiffer.

Should make a nice weekender and club racer.

Hopefully you're getting a real good deal on one of these old warhorses.


carlg replied:

I'd go for the Peterson. I raced on one in the early 80's in St. Joe Michigan and had a ball. Over time the same crew raced on a C&C 35, a Pearson 30 and the P34. We cleaned up with the Peterson doing very well in the local Wednesday night and weekend races and in the Tri-State race. Finished third in our division in the only Chicago to Mac that we raced. IIRC it was hull number one.

You'll enjoy the Peterson.

vBulletin Copyright 2000-2005, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Web Site Design and Content Copyright 1998-2005 Boat Design Net

"The C&C 36 and the Peterson 34 are the finest true production racing boats on the market and it's hard to call the Peterson a true production boat." That is the summarizing statement of a former owner of a C&C 36 who now owns a Peterson 34 and who campaigned his C&C 36 to more victories than any other C&C 36 owner on the Atlantic seaboard.

"The Peterson 34 is a performance cruiser. 91 were built by a Texas builder over a five year production period from 1976 to 1981. They are nationally renowned as a very fast, tough boats built to the highest build quality standards with respect to hull and deck structure. Peterson 34s generally handicap 117 under PHRF." (Broker's comment)