You’d be forgiven for thinking Westernman an old boat when you look at this excellent photo, taken by Phil Stapleton in the Solent a few years ago.
Hirta was replaced by Westernman, built in North America (1997) to a design drawn up by my friend Nigel Irens. Nigel is best known for his world-beating fast multihulls, but I remember him back in the late 1960s when he and I were impoverished sailors living aboard our old gaffers on the Hamble River, hoping the harbour master wouldn’t notice us and come looking for his dues. Her name, by the way, comes from the term used for the paid hands aboard the 19th century pilot cutters from the Bristol Channel. Often known as ‘Westernmen’, they kept the sea while their pilots steamed up-Channel then down again on the ships that paid all their wages. I sold her after 13 years of ownership and it took me a year of looking before I bought a new boat. She’s a Mason 44, an American design. Al Mason was a student of the great John Alden and they both had an eye for a pretty boat.