The Warwick, Westerly 21 and Pageant

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The Warwick, Westerly 21 and Pageant

(First published in WOA magazine No. 59, Winter 1997, this updated version was published in WOA magazine No 69, Winter 2002)

Between 1967 and 1969, Westerly had branched out from their successful base of triple keelers with a range of fast cruisers, all of which could be raced as well. These were the Nimrod 18, the Cirrus 22, the Tiger 25 and the Westerly 28.

In 1969 the Centaur 26, which was to become the most successful British-built yacht ever produced, was born. Her immediate success made it imperative to build a broader base of roomy twin keelers, hence the arrival of the Warwick 21 and Pageant 23 in 1970.

Both Warwick and Pageant looked just like their bigger sister, so much so that it is difficult to tell them apart at 100 yards. This similarity was more than skin deep. The Centaur’s success was built on exceptionally roomy interior, safe cockpit and decks and big diesel engine, and so it was with her sisters.

Fitting all that into 21½ feet of hull for the Warwick is a tall order. It was achieved by making the starboard forecabin berth a bit short, so that there was room for a heads compartment, and making the starboard saloon berth a hybrid of quarter berth and saloon table double. In other words you can use it as one or the other, but not both. That allowed space for a full-length quarter berth, a cooker and a hanging locker to port, which still left 6 feet for the cockpit.

One would hardly expect that such a short yacht could have decent headroom, nor ask her to sail very well, unless the skills and determination of Laurent Giles and David Sanders are taken into account. The headroom is catered for by the height of the coachroof which allows a maximum of 5ft 10ins. The sailing performance is astonishing for such a boxy shape.

Her twin strengths are a really long waterline and a relatively tall rig, which goes well with her 45% ballast ratio and broad beam, to make her stiff and faster than seems possible. This is not to say that she is raceworthy, but rather that her performance is far better than her looks indicate.

To keep the price in bounds (sadly I have no record of early prices) she was offered with an outboard as standard, but with the option of an inboard at extra cost. The engines offered were the Vire 6hp petrol and the Petter Mini 6, and many still have these old favourites working away to this day. The Vire is wonderfully small and light, which means, it can be lifted out and taken home for winter molly-coddling. The Petter demands lots of love and care too, as the alloy head on an iron block spell trouble if not properly serviced.

The Warwick was around for seven years, notching up total sales of 207, before being re-vamped and re-launched as the Westerly 21 in 1977. The 21 was given new windows and a Perspex sliding hatch on the outside, but had a very smart all wood interior.

The layout was essentially the same except that the starboard saloon berth became L-shaped, dispensing with the rather pathetic attempt at a double on the Warwick. This was allied to an improved galley (all to port rather than split port and starboard). The later ones were given an under-berth toilet in the heads, which is not too bright an idea as the heads compartment on the earlier boats is just the same as the Warwick’s, and works well enough.

A different approach to pricing was tried. The first options being Hull and Deck Assembly and Budget Boat (structurally complete and with interior fitted but all else loose on board). The upmarket choices were Budget Sailaway (everything but the engine) and Club Cruiser which had the Petter diesel and a few unspecified luxuries to boot.

The Club Cruiser cost £6,950 in 1977 and £8,200 in 1979, which is no doubt why they faded away about then. A 21 (re-badged as ‘Warwick’ for some reason) was offered as a package with a trailer at the Southampton Boat Show in 1981 and two were sold, with the last one being No. 262.

Today the Warwicks fetch between £4,000 for a good 1970 petrol engined example and £7,000 for a really nice diesel engined 1976 boat. The Westerly 21s can fetch up to £8,500, but only if pristine and with the separate heads compartment and a diesel engine. The Pageant was launched at the same time as the Warwick (I have a wonderful brochure showing the girls in ‘slacks’ and headscarves) with the immortal slogan ‘For space and pace — go Westerly’. What fun!

The Pageant’s extra 18 inches on the Warwick allowed an extra 6in of cockpit and more room in each compartment below, although the layout was essentially the same as the Westerly 21. Apart from the extra length, the headroom was up to 6ft and there was an extra 6in of beam to play with. Although the waterline length was only 3in longer than her little sister there was an extra 12% of sail area to cope with 16% more weight. However as the sail area was elongated by 3ft 6in and the ballast ratio is up to 49%, she can really fly in heavy weather.

The early Pageants had a Vire 6 or a Volvo MD1 7hp diesel, but this was later uprated to the MD7A with twice as many cylinders and 13 horse-power which gives them serious oomph to play with.

The Pageant cost a mere £1,790 in those halcyon pre-VAT days of 1970, but had risen to £9,200 by the end of 1978, when the 530th boat was built. Early ones in good order will usually fetch about £7,000, and a really nice 1978 boat can go for as much as £9,500.

In 1979, the gem of the collection was built as the ’79 boats were given all wood interiors. These are really smashing little boats and fetch between £10,000 and £11,000 nowadays, having cost £10,200 basic in 1979. Sadly, only 21 exist, so if ever you see one, don’t let it get away. These are vastly superior to any modern boat, yet half the price of even the appalling Legends, so the only way the price can go is up.

As an interesting aside Westerly produced two fin keel Pageants in 1976 and four more the next year, calling them ‘Kendal’. I’ve never sailed one but they must be quite something upwind if the Pageant is anything to go by.

So, between 1967 and 1970 Westerly had produced a total of eight new models, which rate they have never again achieved. The 70s was their most successful decade by far.”