As an owner of a Westsail 32 I have to say while his ''pedigree'' is essentially correct the rest of Jeff_H''s (cut/paste) assessment of a Westsail (still) contains quite a few inaccuracies.
I know I''m going ''against the grain'' here. I do respect Jeff_H''s views but I also have come to temper his objectiveness with the view he''s more inclined to favor the more modern production boats. Everyone has their own reasons for liking particular boats. Our likes/dislikes, wants/needs just happen to differ
One thing he says is definately correct... it''s interesting Westsail owners love their boats while those that have seemingly never been on one or sailed one seem to consistently deride them. Personally I think it''s jealousy
They do have their umm.. ''pecularities'' but what boat doesn''t? Just depends on what compromises you''re willing to accomodate.
But to put the ''major'' complaints to bed:
They are not (necessarily) as slow as non-owners make them out to be. And they are certainly not ''dogs''. Dave King won the 1988 West Marine Pacific Cup race in his WS32 Saraband. They sail just fine in 8-10 kn winds. I achieve hull speed (a bit over 6 kn) in 10-15 kn winds easily.
I say ''necessarily'' as a proper sail plan with proper shaped sails is the key. I suspect this ''conventional wisdom'' came from long ago on boats with the original sails/plan. Advances have been developed over the years as to what a Westsail should carry. The ''guru'' of Westsails is Kern Ferguson (Kerns Sails). He is inarguably the best loft around for Westsail sails. His sails achieve a proper balance with excellent performance characteristics.
I will say I am probably the furthest from a performance/''racer mentality'' as one might get and I did not buy my Westsail to get somewhere fast anyway. Jeff-H makes a good point that in the long run performance/speed can affect the amount of stores, carrying capacity required but due to its roominess I''m able to store so much of everything it''s simply not an issue. I make ''landfall'' at my choice, not by necessity.
They aren''t hard to sail. I don''t have the excessive weatherhelm everyone seems to think is ''inherent'' in a Westsail (again, sail plan/shape/trim is the key). I singlehand mine all the time and I''m no expert or athelete by any means. Yes, they can be tricky to back up but what ''double ender'' isn''t? But I don''t find it a problem... I maneuver in tight marinas all the time. Just keep things slow and purposefull as you would any ''large'', heavy boat and you''re fine..
They aren''t ''miserable boats'' by a long shot. Albeit a bit wet overall I find it quite a comfortable sailing vessel. And living aboard is a pleasure... so much room below.
They aren''t any more expensive to own/maintain than any other 32'' boat (how/why should they be?). One caveat: It is said a Westsail is a wood boat with a glass hull. There will inevitably be more ''brightwork'' type maintenance than say a Pearson, Hunter, and other ''clorox bottle'' production boats of that genre.
I won''t say all, but I submit the vast majority of Westsail kit boats were put together by people that took care & pride in their work. I''ve seen some Westsails that blew away factory boats (I have a factory built boat). And factory built boats are known for their build quality. Bottom line it''s all in the survey anyway, factory or kit.
According to the ex-GM of Westsail, there were *very* few Westsail kits sold without ballast. Until about ''73 the ballast was iron punchings/concrete with lead/lead shot as an option. After 73''ish the iron/concrete was abandoned with lead/lead shot standard with 3 piece lead blocks the option. In any case the ballast was fully encapsulated in resin so unless there is significant damage even steel/concrete whould not be a problem. To make a point, what ballast material are current production boats predominently using these days?
They aren''t any more expensive to operate/maintain than any other similarly sized boat. Why/how would it be? What''s ''unique'' to a WS deck H/W, rigging etc. that makes it more expensive? Why would it require ''the sail inventory of a much larger boat''? I will say (thanks to its beam) it''s been said a WS32 is a ''40'' boat with a 32'' hull. And I really feel like I DO get to enjoy the cabin space/storage of a 40'' (while maintaining a 32 footer). And as far as marinas charging for the bowspit most I''ve run into (that require anything extra at all) just add a bit of a premium (not charging as if it were a 40 footer). I store my 10'' Zodiac just forward of the mast just like on lots of other boats (I''d store it aft if I dind''t have a propane locker/dodger in the way).
To be fair, as an owner, what do I NOT like about the Westsail? I wish it had a cockpit coaming. I wish it had a modified full keel. That''s about the only ''complaints'' I cna think of.
All that aside it is definately easy to get caught up in the classic lines & ''romance'' of a Westsail. The BEST advice I''ve seen put forward so far is ''Buy a boat for the use at hand rather than a possible future expedition''.
If despite the naysayers and you are still drawn to a Westsail drop by:
and talk to some owners.
An (obviously biased) Westsail 32 Owner