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The Definitive Guides

The Westerly Owners' Association - Definitive Guides

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.)

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