The Westerly Owners' Association - Definitive Guides
The Corsair and Oceanranger
(First published in WOA magazine No. 53, Winter
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
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
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.)