Peter Twiss almost airborne in an early 'wooden topped' Spearfish
(Photo courtesy of Dave Blundon Photographic)
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136 built, 73 Spearfish and 63 Spears; military version of Spearfish
For several years Fairey Marine had been under pressure to build a boat in GRP. Eventually approval was given and Alan Burnard was given the task of producing drawings for a hull only in grp, along with a deck and cabin top in wood. To save the cost of making a wooden plug, Faireys decided to use the hull of a Huntsman 31. This hull was well proven in its performance, sea keeping qualities and appearance. The contract to produce the first hull went to Tylers of Tonbridge. The first Spearfish was exhibited at the 1969 London Boat Show. Very soon approval was given for the factory to produce all the moulds in grp at Hamble.
Only 2 boats were made with wooden decks/cabin tops; these boats are now in Poole and the Maldives respectively! With the introduction of VAT and the oil crisis in the early 1970's, head office instructed staff at Hamble to concentrate on sales to the Military, Police and Customs services both at home and overseas. So it was decided to turn the Spearfish into a military version, now called the Spear. This proved to be a very successful venture with much work subcontracted out to other firms as well as the Fairey factory at Ringway, Manchester. One of the most notable successes was an order for 25 Spear / Spearfish and 25 Fantomes from G.M.T.O. in Libya worth some £3 million.
Only 1 Spearfish was raced in the Cowes -Torquay race. 'Ford Fantasy' race no. 272 ended up unloved and very tired looking in Antigua until brought back to England where she now is in good hands.
Some 35 boats, mostly Spearfish and a few Spears now live and work in the Maldive Islands where they are very well looked after, being used as inter-island shuttles. Much loved for their good sea keeping qualities and soft ride in the sometimes short choppy seas. Average utilisation is around 2000 hours per boat per year. The Maldives must boast the largest collection of Spearfish anywhere in the world; they also have Fairey 42' Swords, 62'Trackers and a 37' Dagger. Some 84 boats were sent to many Middle Eastern, Asian, Far East and African countries for both military/police and customs use.
Price for complete boat in 1970 £ 10,250 inc. twin Perkins T6354. 145hp diesels
Price for complete boat in 1973 £ 16,841 inc. twin Ford Sabre 180hp diesels
First Spearfish completed in August 1969