I know this is an old post....But having just bought one, hull #3... 7/2015...I'll have to disagree with the majority of the quote above...having worked at both Irwin, and CSY factories in the '70's and commissioned Endeavor's..to set the record straight:...This West Indies 36 is not only a TANK, at 17000 lbs.!!!.... But sails fast!!! at 700 sq. ft SA.....docile is NOT a word to be describing this true classic thoroughbred...
everything FRP is thick, stout and strong...an incredible boat... what is true.....the mild steel used for the mast step, and below sole stringers...needs to be refit....mine is refit with Stainless Steel......awesome!!....this design is My dream boat!!!!!!!... my boat, with its total SS refit is unsurpassed... a true classic,... built like a battle tank...and will easily sail head to head with a Tartan 37...good luck finding one...only 40 were made....
I am glad to hear that you are pleased with your boat because in the end, what counts to any boat owner is how well their boat suits their needs. It sounds like your particular boat has had owners who made diligent efforts to upgrade and improve your particular West Indies 36. But I also think that some of your perceptions are not all that accurate when comparing a normal West Indies 36 to the full range of boats that are out there, and that some of your perceptions may change once you have more experience with your boat.
Take for example your comments that the you believe that your boat is a tank and you believe that it has thick fiberglass, which you seem to believe in part because it weighs 17,000 lbs. The reality is that 17,000 lbs was not all that heavy for that period, at least when compared to the other value oriented builders of that era such as the Hunter 36, which weighs 17,800 lbs, and the Hunter had a more sophisticated system of internal framing than the stock West Indies 36 (your boat's stainless steel modification not withstanding). Would you also refer to the Hunter 36 as "a tank"?
With your experience in the boat building industry did you ever watch a West Indies 36 or 38 being built to see how the fabrics and resins where handled, or evaluate the laminate schedule for percentage of non-directional fabric? It might help support your point if you provide some insights into why you believe that these boats were constructed differently then the 38 (I too was in and out of the Endeavor and WI factories during this period. Endeavor did a little better job of things), which I know very well and did see being constructed, and which were constructed as I describe. I won't comment on the W.I. 36 specifically, since the 36 that I knew may not be representative since it was the last hull built, and it was custom finished by a sailmaker quite a few years later with a taller rig, and beefed up structural system.
Similarly, I understand that perceptions of speed are all relative, and that the West Indies 36 offers decent performance as compared to many cruising boats of that era. But in a broader relative sense, I stand by my comments. While it can be argued that the centerboard option on some if not most of the West Indies 36 is a great feature, helping with pointing ability while maintaining a shoal draft, at least as far as PHRF is concerned the Tartan 37 is 12 to 21 seconds a mile faster when compared from region to the same regional rating. The Hunter 37 mentioned above is also rated 15 to 21 seconds a mile faster when compared from region to the same regional rating. And if we talk about where the West Indies 36 falls on a broader spectrum of boat performance, it is owed by a Beneteau 35 (shoal draft) 21-24 seconds a mile, a cruising series- shoal draft J-34 24 to 27 seconds a mile, and something like a Beneteau 36.7 over a minute a mile. Those are pretty big speed differences.
And while almost any boat can become hard to handle if purposefully over-canvassed, as they were typically delivered with a 138% genoas, these were comparatively docile boats. (For what its worth an SA/D of 17 is pretty good for a cruising boat of that era but is tiny compared to a boat that would be considered a good performing boat which would have an SA/D somewhere in the 20's and the stability stand up to that much sail area.) The centerboard allowed these boats to be balanced nicely in a breeze, and even with the custom taller rig, they seem to be well mannered. If you don't find your boat to be relatively manageable to handle, I would suggest that look at your rig tuning and sail inventory.
In the end, your perceptions are certainly meaningful to you as someone who chose to buy one of these boats, and should be relevant at least to someone who views boats as you do. I tend to base my comments on individual designs relative to a broad spectrum of boats and perhaps our differing views result from the boats we chose to compare to the West Indies 36.