Skip to main content

Boat Review: Corsair 880

Corsair 880

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)

Weight 3,659lb

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

Builder Corsair Marine International, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Price $128,000 (base) at time of publication

October/November 2021



Just Launched Mid-sized Cruisers

With so many manufacturers dreaming up bigger production boats, more and more mid-sized cruisers fall on the smaller end of their lines. However, “smaller” does not mean less, and the tricks for optimizing larger models have helped with squeezing more enjoyment into less LOA. As more


Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the more


Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and more


A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed more


Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built more


Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, more


A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen more


Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of more