I’ve often written in boat reviews over the years that pretty much any boat sails well in 15 knots of breeze (typically as a word of explanation as to why sail trials done in drifting conditions are as relevant as those done in a small gale). However, it recently occurred to me there is an exception to this rule, and that is aboard a performance trimaran like the Corsair 880.
The reason for this is the basic nature of tris. Aboard a monohull (especially one with a keel), things may get a little hectic in the event you’re ever hit by an unexpected gust. But the fact that a monohull heels before the breeze provides you with a kind of automatic safety valve. Not so a tri. The tremendous form stability of a multihull means the rig stands up to the pressure and the boat shoots forward, which is all great fun until it isn’t. Poorly designed, undersized amas can result in the “fun factor” quickly morphing into fear as the helm becomes squirrely and the leeward ama threatens to submarine, wiping you out in the blink of an eye.
With this in mind, rocketing across Buzzards Bay this fall aboard the Corsair 880, life couldn’t have been better. The helm was easy, almost neutral, even as the speedo touched 16.8 knots on a reach with the screecher up. Better still, this is the kind of boat that “talks” to you, giving you plenty of warning before it starts playing any kinds of dirty tricks. Every now and then as the true wind speed drifted up to 15 knots or more, the helm would feel a bit “anxious,” shall we say. But there was always plenty of time to bear away just a touch and bring things back down to Earth. Think a kind inshore seakindliness, at speeds that would be a truly white-knuckle experience aboard pretty much any other kind of production boat out there. Suffice it to say, this was one of those sail trials I will not soon forget!
In terms of construction, aesthetics and design, the 28ft 8in Corsair 880 is exactly what you would expect from the veteran multihull builder. Corsair is now part of Seawind, a builder of offshore performance-cruising cats, and like Seawind is based in Vietnam, where its veteran boatbuilders have long been known for their top-notch work. Available in a “Sport” version (with a taller carbon rig, laminate sails with high-aspect square-top main and sprit) or a “Standard” version (with a shorter, but still carbon mast and the option of everything from comfy seat backs in the cockpit to a full marine head and a generator and air conditioning), the 880 is both beachable and trailerable thanks to Corsair’s proprietary folding system, which makes it possible to deploy or retract the amas in as little as a minute. The hull, deck and amas are also all vacuum infused with E-glass, a PVC closed-cell core and carbon-fiber reinforcements for added strength where it makes sense.
Despite the boat’s go-fast looks, complete with a drop-dead gorgeous tumblehome bow (flared to help keep the spray down underway), there’s standing headroom in the narrow but well-configured galley and saloon, and berth space for as many as five. Make no mistake, the Corsair is a legitimate pocket cruiser (it never ceases to amaze me the kinds of amenities that can be fit into a well-designed tri) albeit a pocket cruiser that gets you from one anchorage to the next in record time. Talk about a fun way to go gunkholing!
LOA 28ft 8in
Beam 22ft 3in (amas out); 8ft 2in (amas retracted)
Draft 5ft 3in (centerboard down); 1ft 5in (centerboard up)
Sail Area 554ft2 (std.); 677ft2 (performance)
SA/D Ratio 37 (std.); 45 (performance)
D/L Ratio 69
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
Builder Corsair Marine International, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, corsairmarine.com
Price $128,000 (base) at time of publication