History and evolution of the Trapper 500

Trapper 500         
The Trapper 500 appeared originally in 1971 in North America as the C&C 27 from the design board of the Canadian team Cuthbertson and Cassian.

The C&C 27 design was licenced by Anstey Yachts of Poole already producing the Trapper 28, another C&C design designated as the Viking 28 in Canada, when they took the basic hull mould of the C&C 27, to produce the Trapper 500 in 1972. Sometime during the second year of production after a limited number of hulls the keel was modified from lead to cast iron and reshaped to a flat base.

By the late 1970s a bilge keel version had appeared and around the time the 500th yacht was produced, the design had phased over to the Trapper 501 with modifications to the aft cockpit section and coamings, the cabin roofline and to the C&C trademark scimitar rudder with its sweeping swan-neck tiller. The interior was also redesigned and improved although the hull remained unchanged. Trapper 500s of 1980 from about build number 490 incorporated the internal layout and liners of the 501 before that model was introduced at the 1981 London boat show. The 501 remained in production until 1987.

Anstey Yachts was started in Poole in 1962, their first production yacht being the Rustler 31 and in 1972 was taken over by Deacons Boatyard, part of the Granary Group, on the Hamble when the name changed to Trapper Yachts Ltd. Production continued in Poole while the sales office was at Deacons at Bursledon Bridge until Deacons sold the old Trapper premises to Northshore, who still produced Trapper 501s for them.

The Original C&C 27
Note the shark-fin shaped keel compared to the modified Trapper 500 keel (above left), which
was an improvement for taking the ground afloat, or stability and weight distribution ashore.

Length Overall (LOA) : 8.3m (27ft 4in)
Length Waterline (LWL) : 7.0m (23ft 0in)
Beam : 2.8m (9ft 2in)
Draught (fin keel)
             (bilge keels)
: 1.5m (5ft)
1.1m (3ft 6in)
Displacement : 2722kg (6000lb)
Sail Area : 40m² (428sq ft)
Air Draught : 12.6m (41ft 4in) Approx.

Depends on top
mast configuration

For the basic specification data

The published LOA of 28ft by Trapper Yachts for the Trapper 501 owed more to marketing considerations than the actual physical length. All Trapper 500/501 hulls were produced, either directly or indirectly, from an original C&C 27 Mk I hull mould. In Canada the C&C 27 Mk I had a publicised LOA of 27ft 4in (8.3m), exactly the same as the Trapper 500.

When the C&C 27 Mk III was introduced in Canada in 1974 with rig, draught and rudder modifications, and a published LOA of 27ft 11in (8.5m), the hull had indeed been lengthened; drawn out at the aft end to better accomodate the re-designed, re-positioned rudder. However, that was two years after the Mk I mould had been delivered to Anstey Yachts from C&C in 1972 and used in Poole for the first 100 hulls. Subsequent hulls, including those for the Trapper 501, were also built from a second mould constructed in Poole from a hull plug (a strengthened Trapper 500 hull) made from the first mould; consequently, all Trapper 500 and 501 hulls were modelled on the original C&C 27 Mk I. The modified Trapper 501 rudder did not have a commensurate hull lengthening as the C&C 27 Mk III did.

As mentioned in the introduction, Anstey Yachts had earlier been producing the C&C designed Viking 28, renamed the Trapper 28 (later again renamed the Trapper 400 when the cabin bulkhead was moved aft to give a separate heads) that was indeed 28ft (28ft 2in). It was after the Trapper 400 was discontinued in 1978 that Trapper Yachts publicised the LOA of the 501 as being 28ft.

Other Variants

Another European company that licenced the C&C 27 design was the Austrian shipbuilder Korneuburg Schiffswerft AG, located in Linz and at Korneuburg in the northern suburbs of Vienna, both yards on the banks of the Danube river, that built the yacht to the original plans and labelled it the K 27. Most were launched in the Austrian lakes but a number found their way to the Baltic, North Sea and the Adriatic, the eastern coastline of which having once been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and traditionally home waters for Austrian sailors. Sadly, this yard, after first being taken over by its employees in 1991, went bankrupt in 1994 and was closed down. For a copy of the brochure advertising the K 27 (in German), click HERE.

In 1978 C&C themselves opened a plant in Kiel, Germany to build the C&C range for sale in Europe but the strength of the Deutschmark made it unprofitable and it closed in 1979. The only product from Kiel was the C&C 30E ("E" for European) and during such a short period the C&C 27 was not produced from the German plant and probably was not intended to be if normal business practice of non-competitive agreements had been made with the other European licencees - as both Trapper Yachts and Korneuburg Schiffswerft sold their versions of the C&C 27 into European markets other than their own domestic ones at that time.


The cutaway illustration above from the 1981 brochure shows a Trapper 501 where the tiller emerges from an aft locker which is not present in the original 500. Instead, the long tiller is fixed to the rudder stock aft on the cockpit sole and sweeps the cockpit leading to the helmsperson who steers from a position aft of the cabin bulkhead (see the diagram of the C&C 27 above). The change could only be beneficial as the original encumbers the cockpit to some extent while sailing, limiting movement and sail handling. Some versions sport a wheel, which although faintly ridiculous in such a small yacht, has sense if it can dispense with that long tiller, however, the distance between side lockers means climbing up onto them for the helmsperson to go forward. However, the tiller can be hinged up to the backstay to leave the cockpit clear when moored or at anchor.

©Brian Henry 2005

The cabin moulding and lining were also modified where a foot cuddy was introduced to the starboard cabin berth, projecting into the hanging locker in the heads cabin thus shifting the entire berth forward and allowing more galley surface and the introduction of an insulated cool box between the stove and the sink, which itself became a double unit. This cabin version was phased into before the full 501 external features were adopted and so many Trapper 500s built in 1980 have this configuration. In all other respects the two models are similar.

Trapper 500       

This diagram shows the original 500 layout. The accomodation is comfortable and difficult to believe that the length is only 8.3 metres (27ft 4in) overall, especially in a craft that sacrifices little in sailing performance. The layout, with the transverse table, is cosy and practical for up to four people for a limited period.

Beachcomber, an example of a Trapper 500 with 501 interior
©Brian Henry 2005

Non-standard features in the above picture are the lockers under the side decks that replaced the original open bins and the bookcase on the main bulkhead.

The single shroud chainplate on each side, with both lower and cap to the same deck eye, is set well inboard from the toerail, going through the deck to the main cabin bulkhead. As the bulkhead is slightly forward of the chainplates a wedge-shaped wood block was introduced, shaped to lead the chainplate through an angle to the chainplate/bulkhead join. A recommended improvement to minimise potential chainplate movement and water ingress at the deck, is to make the chainplate longer and straight with a thick padding block, extra through-bolted to the bulkhead.


Engines installed were initially the Dolphin 12hp petrol engine, as was being installed in the Trapper 28 at that time, but soon changed to diesel from the Yanmar range. Although at some time the 1GM10 9hp was used the majority were the 8hp horizontal, single cylinder models. First was the YSE8, with cast-iron gearbox and two-lever control, weight 125kg; then the YSM8, similar engine with alloy gearbox and single lever control, weight 102kg; then later in the 501 run the larger 2GM20, twin-cylinder 18hp engine, also with alloy gearbox and single-lever control, weight 100kg; all normally with a gearbox ratio of 2:1. The propeller clearance allowed by the shaft angle and P-bracket limited the propeller size to 28cm (11in) but the original 2-bladed propeller needed to be changed to 3-bladed to use the extra power of the larger engine. Some propellers were increased to just over 30cm (12in) but this brought the hull clearance to practically zero, where a small cut-out in the thickened GRP keel runoff was necessary.

The Rudder

In the Trapper 500 side view above (top left), it is possible to see a disadvantage with the rudder configuration - the underwater overhang (underhang?) that makes stern-to, Mediterranean-style berthing an exercise in rudder crunching potential against the wall or pier, requiring a 180 degree tiller reversal on the backing-up approach (when it anyway steers better without the immense side leverage when off-centred) and keeping it fixed so while berthed for rudder blade protection against harbour surge and spring in the forward line. Unless one moors bow-to with a stern-mounted anchor for harbours without a fixed mooring line, when the problem does not arise.

The Trapper 500 rudder when reversed at anchor
©Brian Henry 2005

The modified, less raked rudder of the 501 cannot be reversed due to lack of propeller clearance - there are stops to restrict it - see side view below. However, with less aft extension beyond LOA a substantial fender on the transom could probably be used to protect it. Nevertheless, it would be wise to lash the helm over to reduce the rudder's aft projection.

The Trapper 500 scimiter-shaped rudder has a further disadvantage in its propensity to stall when the angle to the water flow becomes excessive such as with the resultant weather helm when well heeled. This was recognised by C&C in Canada and Trapper yachts in England who both redesigned the rudder with a higher aspect ratio with the C&C27 Mark III (1974) and the Trapper 501 (1981).

The Trapper 501 rudder is deeper by ca. 25cm (10in) over that of the Trapper 500 and at 1.25m (4ft) must have been modified for the bilge keel version to not be deeper than the total draught of the vessel (1.1m, 3ft 6in) when drying out - but even so, as an unsupported, spade rudder without a deeper, in-line keel to take the weight or impacts, vulnerable in shallow or drying water that has an uneven, hard bottom.

Trapper 501     

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© Brian Henry 1996-2016