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Tuesday 26 July 2011

Westerly 22, 'Young Tiger'

CMDR Denys Rayner 1943

Loch Nevis 7 August 1904
This image is from C.C.Lynam's 'The Log of the Blue Dragon' 1892-1904, London: A. H. Bullen 1907. The photo was taken in 1904 by Lynam of his family sailing in Loch Nevis - which is heaven in Gaelic. My seafaring mentor Denys Rayner, who read the book when at school, wrote that it infected him with "the sailing canker"
Denys Rayner shared Lynam’s preference for yachts in which the skipper removes ‘grease off a plate covered by the cold gravy of the mutton-chop’, keeps a cabin tidy and scrapes ice from its roof before dawn. Lynam was among the first to enjoy a kind of yachting that did not include much larger boats than the 'Blue Dragon' - 25 foot, 2.2 tonnes - and did not rely on paid hands or wearing blazers and caps and racing. He pre-dated by 20 years Kenneth Graham's 1917 remark through Rattie about the pleasures of messing about in boats in 'The Wind in the Willows'. I respect people who race around the world in sailing boats, but I find the idea of circumnavigating without stopping the opposite of how a small boat should be enjoyed. I have sailed across the Atlantic in a 22 footer but one of the tests of seamanship is finding and getting in and out of a multitude of different harbours and anchorages. Just as Lynam enthused Rayner, so Rayner infused me with the joys of visiting lots of places in small boats

25 August 1997 on the River Orwell at Sea Reach near Harwich on the UK east coast, of Rayner's first design Robinetta launched in May 1937

Westerly 22

The 22 was offered with either a Bermudian or Gunter rig, but Rayner was a champion of the Gunter rig, citing both it's ease of handling and what he felt were superior sailing characteristics.

Rayner's friend Jack Hargreaves noted British Broadcaster, was an enthusiastic supporter of postwar family sailing and the boats then being designed in Britain for 'everyman". Here he is aboard Young Tiger.

Young Tiger setting out for the America's

Here she is in Bequia, having been safely sailed across the Atlantic by two relatively inexperienced sailors, Simon Baddeley (Hargeaves stepson) and Sue Pulford. They first landed in Barbados, the crossing taking 29 days.

Years later Simon Baddelly was able to track down his beloved Young Tiger in 2007.

Denys Rayner had a rather distinguished career a Naval officer in the RNVR, fighting throughout the Battle of the Atlantic in WW2. But he is likely to be more for his achievements as a yacht designer. His life and service are well worth reading about and I found especially poignant the care he and his took of less fortunate souls after the war. Read the wiki.
His father was a racing yachtsman but at an early age Deny's realized that he was more interested in cruising,
his imagination fired by C. C. Lyman's 'The Log of the Blue Dragon'. After a succession of small boats and cruises therein, Rayner in 1937 was able to design his own boat, Robinetta, and cruise the Western Highlands as had Lyman.
After the war Denys was able to return to his experiments with yacht design and adding manufacture. Like others in postwar Britain, he turned his attention to plywood and the design and building of small, trailerable craft with accommodations for a small family. Along with other designers, notably Robert Tucker, he helped enable a boom in small boat sailing which democratized the once elite sport by making it more accessible to the growing middle class. He also experiment with twin or bilge keels, allowing very shoal draft boats, a system discovered by Arthur Balfour.
In 1963 Rayner founded Westerly Marine and began building in GRP or fiberglass. The firm's first design was the Westerly 22, based on his earlier 'Westcoaster'. In 1965 a scheme was hatched. Young Simon Badderly, a family friend, and a companion, Sue Pulford, would sail a 22 to America, where Simon was to take a position after finishing his schooling. The boat was Young Tiger, the voyage a successful one which earned Simon the RCC Challenge Cup for a cruise in a small boat. Simon and Sue made the remarkably uneventful passage in 29 days, confirming Denys Rayner's conviction that these were very seaworthy boats, indeed. There is a full account of that cruise, as reported in the pages of the Royal Cruising Club's Journal for 1966 at 70.8%.
Westerly Marine went on to become at one time the largest boat building firms in Britain and have a very active owners group. The 22's continue to be quite popular, and can still be found in the UK and US, and probably further afield. A later Jack Laurent Giles design, the 26' Centaur, became the companies best selling model.

Much thanks to Simon Baddelly for the use of his material. Simon is soon off to Corfu!


  1. What an amazing man! War hero, yachtsman, designer and innovative industrialist. And on top of that he looks like a film star.

    Actually I never liked the look of the Westerly 22 at the time. I was only interested in racing boats in thos days and the Westerly looked slow and dull to me. However, in my more mellow old age I now see that she was a clever and practical design for cruising.

  2. There's a Westerly 22 on the hard at Moody's yard (now called Swanwick Marina) - been there for a couple of years. The sheer line is acute, and the old rubber sealed windows show reflect it's age, but it has an appealing quality and impressive volume for a 22 footer of it's day.

  3. Another Smart post from you Admin :)

  4. Great to see a picture of Robinetta. She will be in Cowes, 15th - 18th August at the OGA 50 celebrations. We'd love to see you there.

    Julian & Alison

  5. Birdy and I live aboard Ingrid, a Westerly 25 he built in 1966.
    I think Mr. Rayner was a flippen genius. I would love to say more but I'm typing on a phone and its nearly microscopic.
    Thanks for putting up a great page.

    Ingrid, Birdy and Neil

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  7. Interesting to read about Young Tiger, Westerly 22 sail number 68. My dad taught me to sail in Irvette - sail number 69 - in the early seventies on family cruising holidays along the south coast. Great days.

  8. In 2017 Young Tiger sits on blocks in a field in Maryland near Adamstown. Her teak strakes and other fittings will need much work, as also her spruce mast, boom and gaff. Denys Rayner built the Westerly 22 so far above specification that I am confident that this 53 year old boat can be restored and made seaworthy - especially by someone as talented and wise as Whitney Brown. Young Tiger's sad state is not from exposure to the sea, where she's proved herself over many decades, especially in taking Sue Pulford and I across the Atlantic in 1965-66. Her present condition is the result of being neglected so far from the sea where she should be.