Sailing Characteristics of W28s?

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  • August 15, 2015 6:18 PM
    Message # 3481541
    Deleted user
    Hello all.  I am new to the WOA, having joined to gather info on these great boats with an eye toward owning one.  I am trying to assess the differences in sailing characteristics between the W32 and the W28.  I have read that the 28 has a different hull shape and thus points higher, sails faster and is drier than the 32.  Does this bear out in practice?  The answer may depend on the sails being used.  Do the 28s like the classic three sail combo or are they happier with a large genoa and main?  I'll be sailing in the SF Bay.   
    Any comments will be greatly appreciated.  

    Happy Rondy to those in Le Conner, WA this weekend!

  • August 15, 2015 11:57 PM
    Reply # 3481725 on 3481541

    Welcome to the forum Robert.

    I haven't sailed on a W28—only my W32—and I'm no expert. I did seriously consider a W28 and I think they're beautiful boats.

    You might already know this, but all displacement hulls have speed limitations based on the length of the boat. A longer boat's top speed will generally be faster. The W28's top speed through the water is 6.5 knots, vs 7 knots for the W32. So the W32 can technically sail faster.

    W28s are lighter so they need less wind to get them going, and the sails and tiller will be physically less demanding. The downside of being lighter is that the W28s will also be a bit more bouncy at anchor and at sea.

    W28s also have a more cut away forefoot (the front part of keel) which allows them to turn more sharply. Conversely, the W32 would track straighter and heave-to nicer.

    W28s have a less full hourglass shape meaning they would tend to stand upright allowing the keel to dig into the water. An upright boat sails upwind better. The W32 with its more full hourglass shape rolls on it's side a bit easier but is harder to knock down (more secondary stability). If a W32's skipper trims the sails and keeps the boat upright, I think it will sail upwind just as well. I think the W32's "wet" label also has to do with skippers sailing with too much heel.

    W28s are less boat to maintain and less dock space to pay for. On the other hand, there are fewer of them for sale and asking prices from what I've seen tend to be pretty close to the W32.

    You could say the W28 might be less boat for the buck, but great savings longer term for a more maneuverable boat that's easier to sail.

    Or for a similar dollar amount, you might opt for a steadier, roomier W32.

    My W32 has sort of become an obsession.

  • August 16, 2015 10:14 AM
    Reply # 3482105 on 3481541
    Deleted user

    Thanks, Nathan, for those good comments.  I especially appreciate your analysis of how the hull shape influences performance.  It would be interesting to compare the respective PHRF factors. I can see that one gets more boat for the buck with a W32, but there is, as you say, more boat to maintain and handle.  I had only been looking at 32s since a few were available locally.  Then I saw a 28 for sale in the LA area and started thinking and reading.  The search continues...Thanks again...Bob

  • August 19, 2015 10:58 AM
    Reply # 3488032 on 3481541


    I have sailed a number of W32's and owned 2 different W28's, as others have stated the theoretical maximum sailing speed of any displacement sailboat will be determined by its waterline.   That said the W28 will have a slight disadvantage in top speed, but as most sailors will admit it all depends on who is sailing the boat and how it is equipped. 

    A standard Westsail 28 will point slightly higher and has better windward ability when trimmed well, but again it all depends on the sailor, sails and sail trim.  Above deck maintenance is slightly less in overall area, but still requires the same type of work.  Below the waterline you will use less bottom paint.  Moorage if billed by the foot will be less, my W28 measures 36' overall, a W32 will measure at least 6 feet more overall.

    The W28's narrower beam lends towards its windward ability's, but also takes away some room below deck.  The W28 side decks are narrower and the standard deckhouse has only one hatch forward.  The W28 forefoot is tapered compared to the W32's full forefoot, this does help with maneuvering and also has less wetted surface (drag).

    If you are looking for a comfortable cruising boat you cannot go wrong with either one.  If you are looking at PHRF ratings and wanting performance you will need to talk with Dave King about how to race a Westsail.

    My2 cents,


  • August 19, 2015 12:58 PM
    Reply # 3488216 on 3481541


    I just realized that I did not completely answer your question.  Here in the Puget Sound area I use a 120% roller reefable headsail and mainsail most of the time.  In stronger winds (20+ knots) we use a reefed main and the staysail.  Based on my experiences sailing on SF Bay I expect you may want a smaller headsail for your "normal" conditions.  Using the full cutter rig is very nice for offshore and allows for lots of sail combinations, but for sailing where one must tack often the gap between the W28 headstay and staysail stay is too narrow for a large headsail to easily pass thru.  We have a quick release on our staysail stay that allows it to be removed and reinstalled easily.


  • August 20, 2015 10:05 AM
    Reply # 3489438 on 3481541
    Deleted user


    Many thanks for those good insights.   One point I did not raise is the relative stability.  It would seem that the W28 is more tender than the W32.  Less ballast, less depth and less beam.  How have you found this to be in real life?

    I love the photos your posted of Starwhite.  She really looks lovely.  The Lewmar hatch is a great addition.  Was that a straight forward swap?  I made a similar swap on a boat years ago.

    Sizewise, I think I would be very happy with a W28. A little less boat/sails to deal with all around. I can see that sailing on the SF Bay would usually mean a reefed main plus staysail, but your 120 on the roller makes a lot of sense too.  You don't seem to use the staysail boom. Could you comment on that?

    The search goes on, but right now the 28 seems like the better choice for me.  

    Thanks again.  Look forward to more discussion.

    Safe sailing


  • August 20, 2015 10:31 PM
    Reply # 3490090 on 3481541


    Tender is not a word that one normally ever hears applied to any Westsail regardless of size.  But like everything in sailing it depends on ones description of tender.

    Yes, the W28 has less beam, displacement and draft than the W32.   But all those figures should be looked at relative to the overall picture.   The W28 still has a Bal/Disp ration of 31.   I consider a tender boat to be one that heels when I step aboard and puts her rail down in 12 to 15 knots of breeze. My experience is that the W28 is stable when I step aboard and has a comfortable motion underway.  She will put her shoulder down when pressed and push thru moderate seas, but getting the rail down usually requires over canvasing and a fairly strong breeze.

    Regarding the Staysail boom, I have owned and sailed boats both with and without clubfooted Staysails.  Personally I don't like the clutter of a boom sweeping the foredeck especially on a small boat.  We have pendants on the tacks of all our headsails to keep them up off the deck and to provide clear visibility forward.  A staysail on a clubfoot creates a blind spot forward.  Additionally having a clubfoot would make releasing the (Highfield Lever) Staysail stay and pulling the stay aft to sail as a sloop almost impossible.  Some people will point out that one gets better sail shape with a clubfooted Staysail and that it makes the sail self-tending.  Both things are true, but we are cruising, comfort and safety on deck are both higher on our list of requirements.  If you end up getting a boat with a clubfooted staysail try it for a while and see what you think, its easy to remove.

    Good luck on your search.


  • August 21, 2015 10:17 AM
    Reply # 3490649 on 3481541
    Deleted user


    Many thanks for all your comments.   All the W32s on which I have stepped were certainly not "tender", but I have not yet stepped onto a W28, hence the question.  Also, I read the story that the first few 28s that were built were not stable at all and Westsail had to add ballast which pushed the boat 4" deeper into the water (with no change to the hull).  Your personal experience is the best testimony to the stability of these boats.

    As to the foresails, I appreciate your insights.  I agree that one has to try the many combinations to see what works best.  That will be a lot of fun.

    I'll keep you posted on how the search turns out.


  • August 21, 2015 5:52 PM
    Reply # 3490979 on 3481541

    Robert , Hi . Although I would not consider a W28 "tender" , we like to reef around 14-16 kts. and then she gets right back on her feet and weather helm goes away . When we got our little "Patricia A" over 20 yrs. ago , at first  we did not know how to reef , we thought just strike the yankee and your done . Wrong , first reef the main . ( thanks Bud ) Reef the yankee last . We also like to sail with all three sails , the boat seems so balanced that way . We also sail with a drifter , we love that sail . We just got back from Catalina . I noticed we were really hobby horsing on our mooring , it was lumpy all the boats were hobby horsing but Patricia A was really having a good time ! PS. by the way what W28 are you looking at in LA ? 

  • August 25, 2015 5:58 PM
    Reply # 3496264 on 3481541
    Deleted user

    Hi Mark.  Thanks for your comments.  I can see that I'll be reefing often on the SF Bay whether its a W28 or W32 I end up with. The W28 in question is a 1977 version called "Alexis Marina", for sale at Corinthian Yacht Brokers in Channel Island Marina.  Do you know this boat?


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