Pearson Yachts

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Pearson Yachts
Industry Sailboat builder
Fate Sold in bankruptcy
  • Pearson Marine Group
  • USWatercraft
Founded Bristol, Rhode Island, United States (1956 (1956))
  • Clinton Pearson
  • Everett Pearson
Defunct 1990 (1990)
Headquarters Portsmouth, Rhode Island, United States
Area served
  • North America
  • Shipped worldwide
Key people
Products Sailboats
Parent Grumman Allied Industries
Pearson 424

Pearson Yachts was a manufacturer of fiberglass sailboats in service from 1958 until 1990. Pearson Yachts was founded by cousins Clinton and Everett Pearson in a small garage located in Seekonk, MA in 1956.[1] The company was one of the earliest fiberglass sailboat manufacturers. They sustained tremendous growth through the 1960s and 1970s, producing a wide range of sailboats, most of which were designed by Bill Shaw. After changing ownership throughout the 1980s, Pearson Yachts was sold in the bankruptcy of Grumman Allied Industries in 1991. At that time, TPI purchased the rights to the Pearson Yachts name. USWatercraft, formerly known as the Pearson Marine Group, currently holds the rights to the name.



In 1955, cousins Clinton and Everett Pearson began building fiberglass dinghies in their garage on County Street in Seekonk, MA, just over the MA/RI state line. The fiberglass material and their methods of construction was brand new and untested. However, Tom Potter from American Boat Building approached the Pearson cousins with a project to build an auxiliary sailboat that would sell for under $10,000. Naval architect Carl Alberg was given the task of designing the boat. The result was the Triton 28 sailing auxiliary. The first boat was built in the cousins' garage, in time for the 1959 New York Boat Show.[2]

Going public[edit]

In 1959, the Triton 28 was launched at the New York Boat Show. The cousins had to borrow money to pay for the transport of the boat from their garage to the show. The boat proved to be a hit, and the cousins had deposits for 17 orders by the end of the show. To raise the capital to acquire facilities to meet the demand, the cousins made Pearson Yachts public in April 1959. Upon returning to Rhode Island, the demand for the Triton 28 remained so strong that the cousins purchased the old Herreshoff Yard to expand their production site. Pearson Yachts introduced a number of new models, most of which were also designed by Carl Alberg. By the end of the year, the newly founded Pearson Yachts had over one hundred employees and was turning out nearly one boat per day. This rapid corporate expansion led to cash flow problems for the cousins. They attempted to get approval for an additional stock offering, to raise much needed capital, but were unsuccessful.

Grumman takeover 1961-1964[edit]

In 1961, Pearson Yachts caught the interest of Grumman Allied Industries. Grumman, which was interested in gaining a stake in the rapidly developing fiberglass technology, purchased a controlling interest in Pearson Yachts from the cousins. Pearson Yachts received a capital infusion that brought financial stability to the company. They continued to experience steady growth under the Grumman umbrella.

William Shaw at the helm 1964-1986[edit]

The Pearson cousins left the company in the 1960s, and Bill Shaw became the chief designer.

The end 1986-1990[edit]

[3] One of Shaw's most notable designs is the flush decked Pearson 40, introduced in 1977.[4] Pearson filed for bankruptcy in 1991.[1] At that time TPI Composites, formerly known as Tillotson-Pearson, purchased the rights to the Pearson Yachts brand name. In 2013, the old Pearson molds that lay abandoned at the former Portsmouth, Rhode Island yard were scrapped.[5]

Boats built[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mitchell, Steve (November–December 1999), "The Pearson Era: Cousins Clinton and Everett Pearson initiated a new era in yachting history", Good Old Boat 
  2. ^ Kretschmer, John, The Best Used Boat Notebook 
  3. ^ "Designers Bill Shaw", Sailor Magazine, p. 6, August 15, 1985 
  4. ^ Chip Lawson (September 2001), "Classic Plastic: Smooth Operator", Cruising World, p. 124 
  5. ^ PearsonInfo.NetOwners,, retrieved 2010-04-17