Introduced to the range to replace the aging 36' Conway family, this Ed Dubois design was an instant hit. Minor interior design problems were had with the first few models because only one heads were installed and difficulties in getting the aft cabin layout "right". They were also available in a ketch rig but few of these were made.
In 1986 the Corsair II was launched with a proper navigators seat and the introduction of the famous Westerly tiled worksurface in the Galley.
Sister yacht is the Oceanranger
Corsair 36 Statistics
The Corsair 36, Corsair II and Oceanranger Definitive Guide
The Corsair and Oceanranger (First published in WOA magazine No. 53, Winter 1994)
The first Corsair was launched in late July 1983 for the usual pre-Southampton Boat Show trials. She was a straightforward replacement for the then ageing Conway design (first built in 1974) and immediately delighted all who sailed in her with her excellent light airs performance, and astonishing interior volume.
The early Corsairs were also available with a mizzen making it a ketch, with slightly lower mast and main and genoa sail area, but only a few were built. However, by the end of the Southampton Show, it had been decided that something drastic had to be done to the after cabin. The layout comprised two lengthways berths with a square central cut-out. The idea had been to provide full length seaberths, while sleeping athwartships for a double bed in harbour, thus avoiding the need for an infill. This only left room for a hanging locker on the starboard side, and there was certainly no room to port. The Conway had an aft heads, so why not the Corsair? The problem lay in the fact that the Corsair’s cockpit was longer, leaving less room aft. Productions answer was to fit a toilet in this hanging locker and a basin in the other hanging locker opposite. This was duly done to number three, but met with howls of derision from salesmen and customers alike. The only thing to do was to bite the bullet, go back to Lloyds and get permission to move that half bulkhead about six inches aft. This was duly done somewhere between hull numbers 6 and 12.
Everyone was now happy, and production continued apace; hardly surprising when you consider that the Corsair was initially £7,000 cheaper than the last Conway. She was given an internal re-vamp in time for the 1986 Southampton boat Show, with an improved galley (with tiles yes!) a U-shaped berth to port in the saloon and, best of all, a backrest and curved seat for the navigator. This entailed moving the navigators berth back into the hanging locker in the after cabin, and putting a little roof over the feet. A smaller locker, but this was a price willingly paid. Imaginatively, she was called the Corsair II. The last Corsair I was no. 106, but by the last II the tally had risen to 158. Three years later saw production dropping from a steady 20 a year through 16 to 12. The solution was the Oceanranger. This was a Corsair with the same “sugar-scoop” treatment that had been so successful with the 34s the previous year. This time there was added a full 18 inches to the stern which allowed a much more marked transom rake, which in turn gave enough room to fit a length ways double berth. This being offset to starboard allowed much improved hanging lockers to port too.
Best of all though was the extra 18 inches of waterline length, which notched up the hull speed and gave her better handling in choppy conditions. The latest change was seen at the London Boat Show in 1992, when the basic specification was upgraded by the addition of in-mast mainsail reefing, but she has remained much the same with that exception.
One change resulting from the Oceanranger redesigned stern cabin was removal of the large stern water tank and its replacement by a second tank in the saloon under the starboard berth/settee. This is a better place for weight but results in loss of convenient storage. On the engine front, Corsairs have always had the Volvo 2003, three cylinder 28 hp fitted as standard. However, a few have had the turbo version of the same engine (giving 42hp), and some were fitted with Bukh 356s, which are particularly good. Westerlys are currently fitting the new Volvo 2030, which gives 29 hp, and can be had as a saildrive if required.
It has been said that they are underpowered since one can’t get more than 4 knots into a strong headwind, but one can get 6 knots under sail in those conditions. Dreadful polluting things, diesel engines. I strongly recommend giving yours a float test at the first opportunity! You’ll enjoy a much quieter, cheaper life.
New numbers were allocated to the Oceanrangers and numbers are now into the 60s, making over 220 boats built so far. Yet another success for the marque, and still going strong. (written 1994, Ed.)
(First published in WOA magazine No. 63, Winter 1999 – a special review of Westerly’s Classic models)
Your editor is a hard man! He has asked me to write about the boats that I think of as “classics”, but allows me a maximum of four. Of course everyone will disagree with me on the final selection, but here is how I cut the list down from the original 15 semi-finalists.
Just what is it that makes any yacht a “classic”? The answer lies in her popularity, but there are a number of ways to judge that. The obvious one is numbers built and years alive as a design, but just as valid are handling and performance. Finally we must not miss out the odd boats whose place is not so easily pigeon-holed, but nevertheless have “special” written all over them.
Of course the very marque is a classic in itself, and yet why is a Westerly so instantly recognisable? The 70s designs have a very obvious family resemblance with their knuckled bows, square cut coachroofs and teak rubbing strakes. Later designs only shared the teak rubbing strakes, and came with an ever changing variety of broad caveta stripes and coach roof style lines. Evolution is probably the key, with each boat looking similar to the last, but the last looking very different from the first.
Handling has evolved too. Good manners may well have had a big influence on the success of Westerly overall. Wooden boats and many early bilge keelers handled like haystacks, only going about with much concentration and backing of jibs. Even the Westerly 22 was better than that while the Fulmar, Seahawk and Typhoon push the boundaries of perfection.
So let’s get down to cases. In the first category, numbers built and longevity of design, the Centaur is the clear winner with 2,444 built over 12 years. In the same class are the Konsort (704 over 14 years), the Griffon (454 over 11 years) and the 1970s 31s (Pentland, Berwick, Renown and Longbow) with 1088 built in just 9 years. And there are more, with the Seahawk, Corsair and Sealord and their derivatives still going strong 16 or 17 years after they left the drawing board. The last and far from least in this category is the Fulmar, of which “only” 450 were built over 17 years. The Fulmar leads us into the next category: handling and performance. Was there ever such a lovely boat to sail? Doesn’t she have the most delightful manners, doesn’t she have buckets of effortless speed, and can’t she be wriggled into the tightest spaces as easy as kiss my hand? Yes, yes, yes and yes again, but she’s not the only one. The Merlin, Typhoon and Oceanmaster all belong in this group too.
The Merlin was the first twin keeler that behaved like a fin, the Oceanmaster is a piece of cake to sail and berth by yourself (quite something at 48 feet). The Typhoon, Oh! the Typhoon! This is the Fulmar beater. Even faster, stiffer, better mannered than the Fulmar, she also accelerates better in Force 1s.
The “specials” are the Pageant, Tiger, Westerly 33/Discus and the Conway. Why so? Well, the Pageant almost comes into category 1 as 551 were built over 10 years, but it has more to do with interior volume and handling. They are so roomy (modern 23s are way behind), and stiff as a board so you can push them hard into the nastiest weather.
The Tiger is not so roomy, or to put it another way has just as much room as the Pageant in a longer hull, but…. a Tiger won the cruiser division of the Round the Island race one year, and why on earth does a small fin keeler sell for such high prices? Because their owners love them to bits. It’s an amalgam of handling, speed and interior design.
The Discus is the “Mark II” Westerly 33, and both have an unparalleled reputation for seakeeping. I know of three that have survived Force 12s. Interior design is a factor here too, as the saloon of these boats is a personal favourite, bafflingly combining space and coziness. The Conway was Westerly’s flagship for 9 years, and yet they are as rare as hen’s teeth on the market today. This is probably the result of their being the perfect boat to take round the world. I have always suspected that there is a positive fleet lying for sale in Pago Pago.They are tough boats with two heads, two cabins and a good saloon.
Now to the designers. The league table so far is 8 to Ed Dubois, 6 to Laurent Giles and one to John Butler (the Tiger). It seems a bit mean to leave out the likes of Commander Rayner, lan Proctor, Rod Johnstone, Mike Pocock, Chris Hawkins and for the latest designs, Ron Holland, as they have all done sterling work for Westerly. Their boats are good, even excellent, but designing a classic is not an every day event, and cannot be done to order. I feel a conclusion coming on. There are 3 boats that figure in all these categories, the Centaur, The Fulmar and the Corsair, and one which I cannot bear to leave out, though she doesn’t rate a mention in category 1, the Typhoon.
In time honoured reverse order then, the Typhoon (sadly even I can’t push her further up the ratings). She deserves her place for her handling alone. The feel you get from her great “Destroyer”wheel is so precise and so positive. She will surf down the waves with her spinnaker controllable right through to Force 6 (and beyond – but you need a hot crew and a storm kite for 7s and 8s). Also she has a really good layout with heads by the companionway, a big galley and forward and aft cabins.
In third place is the Corsair, which has only had a passing reference so far. Their place in history is assured by length of service; Corsair Is – 106 in 4 years, Corsair IIs – 52 in 4 years, and finally the stretched version, the Oceanranger – 11 years and approaching 100 built … so far. Behind the figures lies the perfect cruising boat. Big enough for 8 people even on the morning after the night before, handy enough to be single handed, sensitive enough to sail in the lightest of zephyrs and tough enough to sail round the world.
Second is the delightful Fulmar. Thousands have been introduced to sailing in these yachts, asthe sea schools love them for their vice free handling and strength of build. Individual owners would say it’s their vice free handling, their speed and their layout. Wives will cite their vice free handling, the comfort of the saloon and the number of lockers. Racers will say they are stiff upwind, steady downwind, are quick and have vice free handling. Ah! you will say, it must be their vice free handling then. No it’s not, it’s that they are a delight to sail in every weather, short or long handed, upwind and down.
The crown goes to the Centaur of course (you knew it would). They aren’t the most beautiful boat and they aren’t the fastest. But 2,444 built in 12 years certainly makes them the most popular British cruising boat ever. Their long waterline and short mast ensure world class seaworthiness and a decent turn of speed when pushed. You can park them anywhere on their twin keels. They are just about indestructible (each boat has been sorely tried by a succession of novice owners over the years). They are and always were fantastic value for money. There is a choice of three interior layouts. Big deep cockpit, wide side decks and high coachroof make for child friendliness. They have the biggest engines this side of Sunseeker, which gives massive confidence to nervous sailors.
So there you are, I cut it down to four after all, but we should remember that every boat is a classic to her owner, and it never gets easier to say goodbye to the last one, even though the next one is just the bee’s knees.”
|Year||Boat Name||Sail Number||Passage|
|2007||Odyssee||CS31||Houston to Charleston|
|2009||Odyssee||CS31||Charleston to Bahamas and return|
|2010||Odyssee||CS31||Charleston to Maine and return|
|2005||Equinox||CS40||Maine to Florida|
|2006-2007||Equinox||CS40||Florida through Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Peurto Rico, US and British Virgin Islands, Leeward and Windward Islands to Trinidad and return to Puerto Rico|
|2007||Equinox||CS40||Puerto Rico to Bermuda|
|2007||Equinox||CS40||Bermuda to Maine|
|2008||Equinox||CS40||Maine to Nova Scotia/Cape Breton Island and return|
|2009||Equinox||CS40||Beaufort NC to Puerto Rico|
|2009||Equinox||CS40||Puerto Rico to Bonaire|
|2009-2011||Equinox||CS40||ABC Islands, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala|
|2011||Equinox||CS40||Belize to Dry Tortugas|
|2011||Equinox||CS40||Florida to Bermuda|
|2011||Equinox||CS40||Bermuda to the Azores|
|2011||Equinox||CS40||Azores to Ireland|
Owners Comments: Equinox
We had two unpleasant bits of weather. The first was south west of Bermuda in 2009 on the way to Puerto Rico when we got into a squish zone with 35 knots of wind and 15 foot seas while close hauled. The boat has never been wetter or been more uncomfortable but it sailed fine under triple reefed sails. The hatch over the forward head developed a crack after a large wave broke over the deck. The other bit of bad weather was on the way to Ireland in 2011 when we experienced a period of gales that lasted for five days. We were sailing anywhere from a close reach to almost a beam reach. It was uncomfortable but not as wet. The last day we came onto the continental shelf off Ireland and the waves increased in size from 15 to 20 feet to 25 to 30 feet with winds in the 35 to 40 knot range. It was uncomfortable and tiring. The boat rolled to to the point that the spreaders went in the water 3 times on the last day. We thought of heading more downwind toward England but we were less than a day out of Ireland and anxious to get there and the weather was due to get worse. Once in the lee of Ireland the seas and the wind diminished and the sailing became great. The boat did fine and nothing broke. The crew were glad to be in Ireland. We did have some engine problems in the Isles of Scilly.
The Corsair sails well. We were called the rocket ship by a fellow on a 38 foot Freedom in the Eastern Caribbean. That is a bit of an exaggeration but for an overloaded cruising boat we have no complaints. We stay with and pass many other cruising boat both our size and larger. Our best sail for speed was the sail from Belize to the Dry Tortugas. We had about 18 knots of wind on a close reach and had four days in a row covering 168 mile. We never have never sailed so fast for so long. There was no current to speak of. This was just boat speed.
To be developed