From the “We Get Letters” section of Windbag, vol.4 no.2, summer, 1974:
I feel you are overlooking a significant market: People who would like to cruise but do not have the money for a 32' boat, even as a kit, nor the time for cruises to Tahiti and beyond. It seems to me that a good, solid cruising boat of about 27' LOA without the six berths in 25' syndrome would have a great appeal for short distance offshore work.
Westsail is the ideal firm to undertake such a task. Are you giving it any thought?
Santa Cruz, California
Ed. Note: We have had a number of requests similar to yours, and wonder why one of the many small boats on the market do not meet your needs; they certainly are inexpensive enough and some are fairly well constructed. To build a Westsail of, say, 27' won't reduce prices as significantly as one would like, as so much of the rugged construction of our 32 would cost little less on a smaller boat. However, to determine just where everyone's interest lies, we will be running a questionnaire in the next Windbag on other size boats. Meanwhile, letters are invited.
By fall of 1975, things had changed. That season's Windbag (V3No5) carried an article introducing the new Westsail 28, designed by Herb David. The specifications in the article were stamped “PRELIMINARY”, indicating that the boat had not yet been built.
In the article, the writer wrote:
“The pride of the oceans....a hearty little offshore cruiser perfectly outfitted for 2 to 3 to cruise trouble free around the world or around your favorite anchorage. The new Westsail 28 is a Westsail in every way, yet she's really affordable without committing your whole future...just yet....to the idea of cruising.
“You'll find the usual fine, hand made hardwood interior, cast bronze opening portlights, removable cockpit sole for access to the diesel auxiliary, a beamy hull that really shows her stuff in heavy weather and light air too.”
These preliminary specifications stated that “the Westsail 28 is only available as a complete boat.” The price was $27,950.00, ready to be loaded in Costa Mesa, California.
This price did not include sails, winches, second battery,holding tank, pressure water, etc. However, all of these options, and others, were available fromWestsail. Those preliminary drawings look exactly like the first W28s that were ultimately built.
Why the change of heart? An article in Nautical Quarterly on the demise of the Westsail Corporation, had this to say:
“The Vicks were also becoming concerned, by this time, that they might be pricing Westsail boats away from th bottom end of the cruising market. The Westsail 32, at $34,500 by then was already almost 30% costlier than when Westsail first sold it, and the price included fewer standard items. So the Vicks hired Herb David, a local designer, to come up with a 28' Westsail. The company began offering the 28 from a miniature model and finished design drawings in the summer of 1976 at the base price of just under $28,000. It was at first only available as a complete boat, and about a year later in kit form.”
By winter of 1975, the first W28s had been built and were scheduled to be shown at boat shows in Newport Beach, CA, San Francisco, CA, and Wrightsville Beach, NC. A brochure from that time (12/75) shows that the cost of the completed boat had climbed to $29,000.00.
As the first boats were rolling out, design changes were being made. After the first half-dozen or so were built, the ballast was increased form 3500 lbs to 4200 lbs, the overall displacement went from 9,500 to 13,500 lbs. This lowered the boat in the water resulting in an increase in draft from 4'0” to 4'4”. And, of course, a larger suit of sails was required to move the increased weight. The working sail area went from 480 sf to 545 sf. The rudder was enlarged and the now-familiar “step” on the rear of the rudder was added. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after hull #20, a boomkin was added.
The fall, 1976 issue of Windbag showed that Westsail had changed their position on making the W28 available as a complete boat only.
Two kits were offered: the Basic Boat for $10,500.00 included:
Deck with cockpit, nonskid molded in, installed
Ballast, all lead, installed
Cabin liner, installed
Rudder, gudgeons, and pintles, installed
Sail emblem pattern
Main & engine room bulkheads (3) partially installed
37 gallon fuel tank, installed
77 gallon water tank, installed
The other kit was the “Custom Sailaway” for $19,600.00 which included:
All of the above plus:
Forward, main, and after deck hatch
Tiller, rudder cheeks
Heavy wall section aluminum spars
9/32” 1x19 stainless steel standing rigging
1/2” turnbuckles and toggles
Standard blocks and cleats
Bobstay and whisker stays and fittings
Suit of working West sails with custom boat sail emblem
Chainplate and parts necessary to step the mast
Departing from the W32 design, Herb David refined the Westsail 28 from the keel up. A taller rig increased the sail area for enhanced light wind sailing. The redesigned hull produced a drier ride than the W32, with greater windward ability, maneuverability, and a more responsive helm. The result is a stout cruiser capable of a reasonable speed.
In a review of David's design, Naval Architect Robert H. Perry wrote:
“David has done two things in the hull design of the 28 that are distinct departures from the C.A. (Colin Archer) traditions. The keel is quite cut away forward and the garboards are not as hollow as the traditional model. The cutaway forefoot should give the 28 more maneuverability and a more responsive feel. The elimination of the hollow garboards should make the 28 better on the wind than her predecessors. The effect of this light turn at the garboards is to accentuate the actual fin area of the keel. The bigger the garboard radius, the less fin area of the keel. There is also a small advantage in the resultant stability of the yacht.”
Westsail 28 hull number range from #1 to #78 the molds were last seen between Guyamas and San Carlos, Mexico.