Typhoon and Tempest
The Typhoon and Tempest
(First published in WOA magazine No. 56, Spring 1996)
The Tempest had been planned as a small sister for the Storm, which had opened to rave reviews at the 1986 Southampton Boat Show. However, we had been selling more Storms as cruising boats than as racers. The enormous majority were not raced at all.
This dictated a shift in marketing emphasis so she could be sold as a good looking cruiser, although a few were bought to race. Surprisingly the twin keelers could be as fast upwind as the-fins. Was this a breakthrough in twin keel technology? Sadly not, one can never move as fast with two keels as with one. My theory is that Ed Dubois simply got his sums wrong and gave too little ballast to the fin keelers. However, I’m sure he would dispute this and produce cunning reasons.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, the twins have enough weight down below to hold them upright without a crew along the weather deck, and the fins don’t. The net result is that a couple sailing a twin upwind can keep up with a couple sailing a fin. Of course, a full crew will redress the balance and allow the fin to walk away. The answer to this is to bolt on extra ballast in a bulb at the bottom of the keel, which stiffens her up and puts her back in contention in a racing environment.
The official launch took place at the Southampton Boat Show in September 1987. As usual with a new Westerly sales took off so that we had built 28 by the end of the year. The Show had highlighted an interesting point that we should have learned 12 years previously from the A layout Centaur. As you back down the companionway steps, you bump into the half bulkhead that backs the U-shaped saloon seats. By the start of the Show there were already six in build, so the first Tempest with an L-shaped berth was No. 7.
The next change was at the same show in 1988, when a layout with a forward cabin was offered. I am not quite sure how many of these were made, but it was surprisingly few. I know of three, plus another nine that were built for the Sea School’s flotilla operation in Turkey. At least six of these returned to England on the demise of the School, so that there are probably less than a dozen in the country.
The forward cabin layout, "classic option" according to the brochure, is much sought after in the second-hand market, as are the twin keelers, whereas the fin keel and "original option" were overwhelmingly popular as new boats. People who buy new are a different tribe to our usual brokerage buyer.
107 Tempests had been built by August 1993, after which the Regatta versions were offered. Engines were the Volvo 2002 18hp units which give them the requisite 6 knots and good manoeuvrability. In the Regattas, they were Volvo MD2020 saildrive units.
By the end of 1993, Tempest sales had slowed to near zero, and the Southampton Boat Show saw the launch of the Regatta range. These used the same hulls and decks as the existing fast Westerlys, but with a radical interior design by Ken Freivokh.
Said interior was meant to answer the French, question, which as us enlightened ones know is "why does anyone ever buy a French boat?’ The only answer I can think of is "because it’s fashionable!" Fortunately most British buyers, certainly most Westerly buyers, look for integrity of construction, practicality of layout, and seakeeping ability, qualities not to be found in the average….(Censored to avoid tedious litigation. Ed).
Unfortunately, Westerly’s answer to the French competition took them along the same lines. The problem with the Regatta range is two-fold. The interior design is a bit "Tate Gallery pile of bricks". All very pretty, but what’s the point? Westerly’s execution (ie the joinery) is not far behind.
In the first fifteen months of production a grand total of 30 Regattas were built (from a range of five sizes). Now is that a success? I think not. Please could Westerly stick to what they are good at, and as for Mr. Freivokh, perhaps he would care to return to Cannes and never darken our doors again.
On to the Typhoon. Anyone who has talked to me of Fulmars knows how much I love them. Fast, manageable, responsive, terrific fun and so easy to sail. Marry a Fulmar by all means but get a Typhoon as your mistress! This is the real thing.
Ed Dubois’ design brief was simply to build a bigger better Fulmar. The result is wonderful. With just the odd ruffled patch on a glassy surface, she grabs the zephyr and leaps forward in just the way a Husky yelps and pulls at the traces for the freedom of speed. In a blow she’ll eat her way upwind with the same enthusiasm, before roaring off on a run or a reach like a clipper coming up channel with the first tea of the season, surfing on every roller with the speedo straining at the stops. Wow!
Below the Typhoon is a surprise to Westerly buyers as she hasn’t the volume and headroom of her smaller cousin the Corsair. Well, you can’t have everything. Her galley is probably better than any other Westerly, the navigation station is first class, and, the saloon is roomy, airy and comfortable. It is only in her cabins that she falls below the high standards of her cousins. The lack of headroom is the real problem. In the after cabin the berth is vast, but has to be sited under the cockpit which makes the cabin feel small. Although early boats all had one double cabin aft, later ones were offered with an option of two aft cabins with a total of three berths. Forward there is also a choice of two types of cabin. One has cross-over bunks, which allows for two full length single berths. The other has conventional Vee-berths which convert to a double in the usual way. Both versions have an en-suite heads, and a vanity basin. Tip, if you are offered a Typhoon with the wrong forward cabin for you….change it. It is not expensive to do, and who could deny such a trifle to so beautiful a mistress.
For those of you with an interest in statistics, Westerly built 40 Typhoons between August 1990 (in time for the Southampton launch) and the end of 1993. The basic price (inc. VAT) started at £73,500, and finished at £94,000 in 1993.
The Regatta version was called the Regatta 370 and the interior design was a slight improvement in terms of cabin layout, but unpopular due to looks and execution. By the end of 1995 only 8 had been built.
Your cruel and heartless editor forces me to talk of engines (pure sacrilege in such a sailer). Typhoons have 28 hp Volvo 2003’s, which probably give about 8 knots. The Regattas have the new Volvo/Perkins 2030’s.
The Tempests and Typhoons are super boats in every way; faster and closer winded than the average Westerly, but just as easy to manage under sail or power. Both have two cabins outside the saloon, and the Regatta 370 has three. Who needs to go abroad when the home grown versions are as fast, stiffer, tougher and above all, Westerly yachts.