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It's now 1974 and Westerly were outselling every other yacht business following the success of the Centaur and the W31s so they wanted to introduce a larger 36' range and did so with the Conway family designed by Laurent Giles.

Available as a centre cockpit, fin keel, sloop or ketch, most Conways were commissioned as ketches. This is before the days of roller reefing so ketches were easier to handle. For the first time in a Westerly design access to the aft cabin was from the main saloon. They also came with 4 different interior layouts and customers were allowed to incorporate their own modifications.

Sister yachts are Solway 36, Galway, Medway 36, Conway MkII, and the W35

Conway Statistics

Designer: Laurent Giles Conway Picture Required  More Westerly pictures can be found on the Westerly Owners Web site
Keel: Fin
Cockpit: Centre
LOA (feet): 35' 9"
LWL (feet): 30' 5"
Beam (feet): 11' 2"
Draft (feet): 6' 0"
Displacement (lb): 16,127
Ballast (lb): 7,167
Berths: 7
Heads: 2
Rig: Sloop/Ketch
Fuel (galls (UK)):
Main (sq. feet): Sloop 282, Ketch 239 + Mizzen 69,
No. 1 Genoa (sq. feet): Sloop 450, Ketch,435
No 1 Jib (sq. feet): 220
Sail ID: CY
Water (galls (UK)):
Built: 1974 - 1978
Number Built: ? approx 300 in the Conway Group

David Brooke-Smith's Definitive Guide to The Conway, Solway, Medway, Galway & W35

1972 and 1973 had seen the launch and expansion of the 31 foot range (Longbows, Pentlands etc.), so that Westerly were free in 1974 to bring on the Conway, which was to remain their flagship for ten years. This was a busy time with more than 500 boats built in 1973, which meant that there were plenty of people and lots of money to spend on developing a new design. The Conway was built along conventional Westerly lines with the tried, tested and inexpensive use of interior mouldings. Naturally, Laurent Giles were asked to provide the design. It looks as though the first Conway missed the Southampton Boat Show in 1974, as the first brochure shot was taken in winter, judging by the gritted teeth of the crew! Indeed, although the first boats were built in 1974, I suspect that none were delivered until 1975. The Conway was a fin keel, centre cockpit yacht, mostly ketch rigged, although one sees a few of the optional sloop rigs around. Four basic layouts were offered, but as each owner was allowed to incorporate his own ideas, no two of the early boats are quite the same. In 1975, the hull was used for two variants, the Solway (same boat with twice as many keels), and the Galway (twin keels and aft cockpit). The Solway was the biggest production twin keeler available at the time and has remained so to this day. Certainly, there have been bigger one-off twin keelers (Laurent Giles once designed a 50 footer) but the Conway remains the only popular one at this length

There were just over 350 of the Conway variants built, and the Solway was the most successful of these with between 30 and 40 delivered. An interesting idiosyncrasy of the design was reported by one owner who complained that his Solway gently sub¬sided onto her nose when the tide went out. Joe Stevenson, Westerlys demonstration skipper of the time, was called upon to discover the reason. He spent a happy few tides shifting gear, alternating angles to the wind as she went on, and generally trying everything he knew to reproduce the problem, but without success. The reason for this strange behavior remains a mystery to this day, but it was generally supposed that it could be put down to fast tides and shifting sands digging a hole under the front of that boat's keels. I firmly believe it was mischievous aliens as I have seen them with my own eyes as I left the New Inn at Shalfleet one night in 1976, and I can't think why no-one believes me. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Westerly produced the last variant in 1976, the Medway, an aft cockpit fin keeler. The Medway and Galway are rarely seen in this country as most of the few that were built went to Germany and Holland. Numbers are difficult to establish, but there seem to have been about a dozen Galways and 23 Medways. From their launch until late in 1978, all these boats were produced with moulded GRP bunks and cabin soles, with everything else in sapele and sapele faced marine ply. The 1978 Southampton Boat Show saw the intro-duction of the "Mark 2" Conway with her all wood (Sapele) interior, and, typically of Westerly, a different set of names.

The Conway and Solway were brought under one banner (Conway) and simply given the suffix "twin" or "fin". Being, as we know, identical twins (keels excepted) they shared the same new interior. Apart from keeping the bulkheads in the same place, almost everything else was changed for the better. Out went the GRP and in came the wood. Other major changes were that the heads crossed to the port side, and were joined by a second heads compartment aft. In the saloon the L-shaped settee on the starboard side was done away with, and a straight settee/pull out double berth was installed to port, while the chart table was made to face forward, instead of outboard. These were the physical changes, but the effect was to transform her from a good boat to a great one. The new Conway offered the same natural seakeeping ability of the design and the innate toughness of Westerlys build, but a better designed, smarter looking interior which gave a warmer, more relaxed feel as well. The Galways and Medways were given the same treatment, and were re-named "Westerly 35". I know of only two, a fin keeler in Gosport and one (possibly twin) up North. I have heard that there may be a third, and would like to know where she is. It is important to look after the name of these rare Westerlys, so if you happen to buy the Northern one (currently for sale), please bear in mind that she is a Westerly 35, not a Conway as the ignorant local broker would have you believe. As you may imagine, the change over from GRP modules to all wood interiors has a fairly dramatic effect on prices. The older Conways, Solways, Medways and Galways can be expected to fetch anything from £30,000 to £38,000, depending on the variety, her condition, age and equipment. The later boats start at £40,000 and go right on up into the early £50,000s, and are worth every penny. How else can you lay your hands on a boat that will take you round the world in comfort, with a well divided rig for easy management, that is capable of outlasting you and your children? Most of the Conways were built while Westerly had access to the 42 hp Mercedes 0M636 four cylinder diesel. This is a terrific engine, enormously reliable, quick to accelerate, and so quiet that one is hard pressed to hear it from the cockpit on a windy day. Later ones were given the three cylinder 36 hp Volvo, which is another good reliable engine by virtue of being deliciously low tech. Even I can understand how they work! Finally, during 1981, the Conways trim was replaced with teak to keep in vogue, and in line with the rest of the range. These are the loveliest of them all, but sadly somewhat of a rara avis. How much are they worth?... whatever you have to +pay. The Conways represent all the best that Westerly have to offer. Designed to suit the British way of sailing, built to last, able sailers in all weathers, and with an engine powerful enough to deal with the most vicious calms. This was Westerly's Golden Age, when they were building hundreds of boats each year, when their after sales service was a by-word and when consistency was king. Lucky the man who owns a Conway.

Westerly Conway Brochure here: Westerly Brochures

Conway Maintenance and Repair


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