Since 1985 the Corsair 31 has been a familiar trimaran on the racing and cruising scene. At yards in Australia and California, 303 of that model were built, with subtle design tweaks over the years. This year, the Corsair Cruze 970 replaces the 31 — and it’s all for the better.
Longer amas, as well as bows that are more plumb and hull forms with less rocker, add 20 percent more buoyancy to this boat, while retaining similar beam dimensions. The result is a more stable platform. The keel and rudder for the original 31 had been optimized for boat speeds between 3 and 10 knots. Incorporating the lessons from those 300 boats, today’s 970 features much thinner, higher-aspect-ratio foils that are optimized for speeds in the teens and higher. (A note to those who haven’t sailed Corsairs before: Those boat speeds are real. Try it!)
Living spaces, both inside and out, are improved in the 970. Boat of the Year judge Mark Schrader was a dealer for Corsair years ago and raced the boats many miles. “They’ve added two very comfortable park benches in the cockpit,” he said of the 970. On the 31, he said, “there wasn’t really any place for more than four people to sit, stand or do anything without hugging each other.” The 31 was offered with either an aft cabin or an aft cockpit arrangement; the 970 deftly manages to make space for both, while also adding headroom in the cabin. Using careful building techniques, including vacuum bagging, Corsair has added more furniture in the cabin yet kept the weight the same.
As with other Corsairs, the amas of the 970 can be folded inboard for trailering. The well-refined mechanisms for doing so are the same as in the previous versions.
We sailed the 970 in light air. With the screacher up in 8 to 10 knots of breeze, we posted 6.6 knots just above 60 degrees apparent, then cracked off and made 7.6 knots. Steve Marsh, a Florida-based Corsair dealer, said you can sail 15 degrees closer to the wind with the blade jib. Propulsion on the boat we sailed is a Yamaha 9.9-horsepower outboard on the transom, with a steering arm affixed to the 970’s tiller and remote engine controls in the cockpit. The 970 offers no inboard option.
Several years ago Australia-based Seawind Yachts purchased the Corsair brand. These days both lines are built at a single factory in Vietnam. The construction quality is quite good — better than the California-built 31s, observed Schrader. The company offers a five-year warranty on the structure, as well as manufacturers’ warranties on installed hardware.
Schrader summed up the pleasures of this boat: “You can park it on the beach. You can run around on the trampolines. You can get into a foot and a half of water. It’s your platform to go park in some little lagoon somewhere.”
And yet, all that idyllic parking doesn’t account for even half the fun. Because in getting there, you’ll learn what boat speeds of 20-plus knots feel like.
Tim Murphy, a CW editor at large and a 2014 Boat of the Year judge, is the co-author of Fundamentals of Marine Service Technology (ABYC, 2012).