Join Date: Jun 2006
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It depends on how you sail. They are pokey by design, being a frequently owner-finished kit boat conforming to the ideals of what a 1970s offshore cutter should be.
Having said that, it is one of the very few boats under 35 feet I would happily crew upon on a delivery. It is a PROVEN design that will get you home...but it dates from a time before technology allowed us to avoid most of the heavy weather the Westsail 32 was expected to stumble upon in the course of normal passagemaking.
If you invest in new running gear and a suit of light-air sails, and if you are fastidious about keeping the bottom clean and perhaps if you get a feathering prop, you can improve to a considerable degree the Westsail's very modest light-air performance. Whether this is meaningful for you will again depend on your sailing style and habits. It will go as fast as any other 32 footer (i.e. hull speed) in the right wind, but will likely be more comfortable a ride than most.
As a liveaboard and as a global passagemaker, they are very good if the price is right. As a round-the-cans club racer, they are, to put it mildly, complete dogs. But were I alone at night on the Atlantic in fall, I'd be happy to be on one.
Read Ferenc Mate's books on customizing and "after-marketing" Westsail 32s. I saw one a couple of weeks ago at Cobourg, Ontario, up from New York City, and it was replete with the usual semi-homemade gear, improvised solar and wind, etc. and cruddy looking vane that marks both the budget cruiser and a sailor who does a LOT more sailing than the typical weekend warrior. The boat looked like a Land Rover on its tenth safari, but it also looked extremely capable and comfortable.