Westerly's Konsort, worthy heir to the Centaur tradition

THE KONSORT, introduced nearly three years ago, was the first of the new generation of Westerlys and marks the transition from Centaur type to the sleek , up to the minute Fulmar design. The traditional Westerly knuckle , a trademark of the Laurent Giles office, is there, hut the hull is sleeker, with more emphasis on pointing ability. Topsides are moderate with a strong sheerline and the superstructure does not have the boxy appearance of so many first generation GRP production cruisers. The demo Konsort looked particularly attractive with black and gold cove line and red boot topping.

Like her predecessor, the Konsort is no greyhound but, like the Centaur, her ability to keep up respectable speeds in all weathers will prove no less embarrassing to many a sleeker, but more demanding cruiser. The Konsort is amazingly stiff. When most boats are struggling with reefs the Konsort hangs on, while at all times the helm retains that legendary docility that is difficult to abuse. The boat has no need of a long tiller as there is seldom more than a pound or two in it. She is uncannily light helmed, in fact, and although this makes her ideal for family use, whoever has the job of berthing her will soon find that the trade off is a slight lack of control under power in tight corners. This need not be a problem, but we had to rethink our tactics rapidly when coming alongside until we mastered it. The blade area of the transom-hung rudder, being relatively small, means there is no last second kick available to bring in a wayward stern and the deceptively wide foredeck (due in part to the knuckle) makes it easy to misjudge distances. Surely a manoeuvre to practice before berthing at Groves & Guttridge during Cowes Week. Otherwise she handled confidently, the Bukh 2Ohp diesel giving ample power and little vibration.

The helming position is excellent, with high coamings, well angled for the small of the back. The transom sheeting mainsail is easily controlled with a very smooth traveller system. This has the added bonus of keeping the cockpit absolutely clear for the crew to work the sail controls that are effectively led to coachroof winches.

Absence of drama characterised our Chichester passage with the Konsort. Day one brought winds of between 12 and 15 knots, giving us reaching speeds of around five knots under full main and No1 genoa. On our return the wind piped up to 22 knots and we set the cruising jib - a proper working headsail with highish clew made by Ratsey & Lapthorn that in a boat like this is destined for maximum use. No reefs were necessary, which made us wonder what awful conditions could ever warrant the third, deep reef. It's there in the Konsort, like the cockpit harness attachment points, the excellent Treadmaster surfaces and painted non-slip and the well drained cockpit lockers just in case. Just in case that family cruise turns into a hectic thrash or a patch of vicious outfalls begin to cause her crew alarm and the skipper has his hands full trying to cope.

Just as performance is immeasurably superior to the Centaur, accommodation has taken a quantum leap forward. Gone is the stark vinyl, plastic and rather basic facilities, to he replaced by a much more integrated choice of liners and materials allied to some really rather good joinery. If, by contracting their work- force (we now know that Westerly have been bought and the future secured), they have retained only the best craftsmen, the evidence is certainly there in the way the boat is put together. Behind berths and inside lockers all is clean and well finished. What is more, in the absence of inner liners, every inch of the hull can he inspected. Westerly are old hands at building boats for the British market and basic good practice has been adhered to throughout. All the head liners come down for access to fittings and with a minimum of effort. The engine box, although affording limited access, is dry assembled, so if need be can he completely stripped out. Seacocks are grouped conveniently in the port side of the forehead Vee berth and the gas bottle locker is a separate container venting into the cockpit, so there is no danger of gas getting into the bilges. Incorporated in the lower companion step is a tool sail tie box.

It is virtuaIIy impossible to miss a footing on the non-slip painted deck, augmented by Treadmaster in strategic areas like the cockpit coamings. Teak trim is bare, untreated wood that looks especially attractive in the wet, but grey when dry.

Also in keeping with the Westerly image are such things as sturdy midships and foredeck cleats,(the latter bolted through the kingplank bonded in the deck structure) and a generous ( 15 fathoms ¼ inch) chain allowance allied to a 25 lb CQR mounted either on deck chocks or in the typical thorough how roller. There is no anchor locker, but traditional hawsepipe and chain locker.

Evidence of hull strength comes in the form of a Lloyd's Hull Construction Certificate, and glimpses of the stringer reinforcement along the side of the quarterberth. Hefty webs tie furniture to hull and hull to chainplates via stainless steel bars, while the mast relies on a massive wooden post that in turn is integral with the main bulkhead. It must, however, he noted that there was some evidence of setting, perhaps due to rigload, which meant door latches to the heads compartment had misaligned.

Asthetically the boat is plain; ergonomically she works well. By that we mean that whereas details like the basin in the head followed the usual practice in yachts of this size and slid out front under the sliding locker, the height was right, it slid easily and foot-pump rather than hand-pump meant that crew can brace and wash without discomfort. What is more, the basin was drained to a skin fitting rather than emptying into the pan. Above all the area was easy to keep fresh. The annoying habit of no seats to clap down at the wrong moment is prevented by a simple shock cord.

Likewise , the galley was perfectly adequate excellent gas plumbing with cut off below and cut outs for as many plates and mugs as would ever be needed, with smoked Perspex sliding locker fronts to house all hut long-term stores.

Konsort saloon
Sturdy, utilitarian and well built interior, with the usual Westerly saloon table as a permanent fixture. The lockers are all lined and there is a high standard of detailing, for example, the rounded coamings.
The Bukh diesel is a quiet engine, made quieter by Westerly's sound-proofing. The engine box is dry assembled for complete dismantling
Konsort's Bukh engine

Masses of underberth stowage augments this, together with deep galley drawers and pan space. The temptation to use the top of the companionway steps might conflict with the natural desire for crew working the coachroof winches to plant wet seaboots in the salad howl, as there is a predictable lack of alternative work surfaces. There is no doubt that it remains one of the best places from which to work the halyard winches while remaining protected.

The Konsort is a thoroughly sound, well equipped cruising yacht and if it is an exaggeration to call her a performance boat, it is an insult to regard her as staid or tame . She is what she purports to be - a modern. British folkboat in the truest sense of the term . AJM


LOA 8.80m (28ft 10in)
LWL 7.77m (25ft 6in)
Beam 3.29m (10ft 9in)
Draught 1.62m (5ft 4in)
Bilge keel version 0.98m (3ft 2½in)
Displacement 3,590kg (7,900lb)
Ballast 1,451k9 (3,200lb)
Hull One piece GRP moulding to Lloyd's Certificate standard. Sample laminates: topsides 9ozsqft; keel 28ozsqft. 12mm teak faced ply bulkheads.
Hull deck joint Shoe box overlap bolted through teak strake, deck and hull with stainless steel machine screws and nuts
Deck GRP balsa sandwich. Removable interior panels.
Keel (fin) External cast iron with 8 20mm stainless steel studs
Engine Bukh DV2OME diesel. 2cylinders giving 2Ohp at 3,000 rpm. Volvo stuffing box, 2 blade 14 x 13 right hand prop.
Sails Main 16.72m2 (18Osq ft); No1 15.61m2 (168sq ft)
Battery One Freedom sealed 9Oamp/hr strapped down in box
Tankage Mild steel fuel tank below cockpit sole, 68 lit (15 gal). Stainless steel water tank in forepeak, 136 lit (30 gal)
Equipment Barlow winches (20 and 23C), 1 Tannoy vent in heads, Henderson bilge pump, Aqua Signal nav lights
Designer Laurent Giles Ltd
Builder Westerly Yachts Ltd, Aysgarth Road, Waterlooville, Portsmouth, Hants P07 7UF (Tel: 0702454511)

Reprinted from Yachting Monthly, August 1982

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