words & photos - Kevin Green
One of the largest folding trimarans on the market, the Corsair 37 offers both performance and cruising capabilities.

- Performance
- Versatile design
- Functional  interior

- Limited electrics
- Undersized cleats
- No bow roller

Trimarans are particularly suitable boats for the myriad of shoal waters that surround Australia thanks to their shallow draft, acres of deck space and performance. Add to this Corsair Marine’s unique folding system which aids mooring and you’ve got a very compelling design.

The first new Corsair 37 arrived on our shores earlier this year, no doubt spurred on by the company’s acquisition by Australia’s largest catamaran builder, Seawind, who bought the Vietnam-based builder one year ago.

The brand is already well known in Australia thanks to dealers in Queensland and Sydney who have sold the range that comprises the Corsair 750, the Corsair 28, Corsair 31 and there’s also a development model Corsair 50. The smaller models are popular race boats but these quality trimarans are versatile. In cruising mode, Corsairs have crossed oceans and even gone among the icefields, so these folding boats have proved their toughness.

The 2009-designed Corsair 37 builds on the success of the earlier Corsair 36, becoming the flagship to one of the world’s most popular folding catamaran brands, so has a proven pedigree.

Originally designed by famed Kiwi designer Ian Farrier, who worked with the California-based company from its establishment in 1985 to 2000, the brand has a substantial international following. Since then, Farrier has moved on to pen his own similar boats. The result is Farrier designed boats, denoted by "F" and the later "C", Corsair branding. About 1600 boats have been produced during the company’s history, making the brand one of the most popular, worldwide, in its class. Phil Day, Queensland Corsair dealer reckons there are about 70 boats in Australia with the number split equally between the F and C series.

The 37ft Corsair comes with an interesting list of specifications for both cruising- and performance-orientated sailors which includes a rotating mast and quality Harken deck gear. Price-wise, the review boat sells for $327,755 which includes an outboard motor. An all-carbon race model (200kg lighter and costing $64,000 more) is also available.

The centre-cockpit layout of the Corsair 37 with a poop-deck helm position uses the narrow hull to good effect, and lends itself well to both cruising and tight manoeuvres around the cans. The deep cockpit sole houses open lockers either side and is self-draining. Ideally these lockers should have doors in case of swamping in this very confined area.

The cabin bulkhead offers good protection to the crew but an optional dodger would be advisable to help protect the exposed steerer who perches out on the comfy mesh-covered seats. Underfoot at the helm is the main hatch access to the aft cabin.

The wooden tiller and extension combine to make this a comfy perch and there are clear views forward which makes this an especially nice race setup, where you can also eyeball both floats. The steering layout is a simple but functional design that has an exposed stainless linkage protruding across the swim platform to attach onto the carbon-fibre dagger rudder. Alongside it, the review boat came with a 9.9hp Yamaha outboard with linkage to the rudder. On the C37, the transom area is larger and improved from the C36 for easier access to the water and there’s a shower nozzle beside the enlarged swim platform.

Winches abound on this boat, with two Harken ST40s cabin top for primaries and a brace more on either side of the cockpit coaming; then a further two on the mast for halyards. The transom-mounted mainsheet track has the sheet running forward to one of the cockpit winches and is far enough aft to allow the steerer to control it, as can also be done with the track which has jammers at hand under the mesh seat.

Deck space is a big plus trimarans, and the C37 is no exception. Moving forward across the float nets with support from the tall cabin top is easy enough but a handrail either side would be nice. Again there’s not a lot to grab onto at the foredeck apart from the stainless pulpit but this is a functional area nevertheless. Dominating the pulpit is the retractable carbon bowsprit for flying the screacher. There’s a sufficiently large anchor locker that’s self draining and could house a manual windlass but some sort of bow roller would make cruising anchorages easier. One other gripe is the undersized cleats -- both fore and aft.

The pre-preg carbon rig replaces the alloy one on the older C36 and was built in-house at the company’s Ho Chi Minh yard. The slender tapered rotating mast is an impressive looking spar showing a high standard of finish and having climbed to the top of it during my review I can vouch for the quality of its fixings. Held up by synthetic shrouds (for quick easement during folding of the amas) it creates an efficient wing shape for the big-topped mainsail to fly from. The fully-battened North Sails taffeta/carbon mainsail is reefed from the mast foot where a pair of Harken 40s do the muscle work including most of the halyards and the topping lift.

The Corsair has a pretty looking hull (number # 6 of 12 built so far) thanks to curves in the right places and flare. The flared topsides blend into a chine towards the gunwales and the keel has some rocker, which aids manoeuvrability while the big amas are designed to give direction stability. The U-shaped hull profile has the advantage of giving good volume and headroom below decks.

The two amas are strongly connected to the main hull via four stainless arms and anchored by nine bolts and a backing plate. Further lateral support comes from a stainless cable at each corner. This proved a solid and judder-free setup during our sail test with no feeling of undue movement whatsoever.

Corsair builds with a vacuum bag layup process using vinylester and foam filling in all three hull components with Kevlar reinforcing on key parts. The foam filling gives positive buoyancy should the vessel be submerged or inverted and the amas are voluminous so offer plenty storage. Another key safety feature is the obligatory hull escape hatch, located on the starboard side near the galley.

The retractable dagger board that runs up through the main hull, along with the similarly-operated rudder allow the C37 to beach easily; or as the new owner of this boat plans to do, haul up on a slipway when not in use. Weighing 3050kg, this should not be a drama.

Accommodation is good despite the limitations of the narrow hull with double berths forward and aft and a dinette berth in the saloon. The small saloon has the dinette to port with drop-down carbon table to make a bunk. The forward berth has good headroom, cupboard space and a hatch someone can climb out of. The stern cabin is a spacious and private spot (once you’ve fitted a blind to the deck hatch and on its forward bulkhead) which can also be accessed through the companionway steps. The double berth has spotlights and a shelf for storage as well as side hatches and the escape hatch.

A beige carpeted finish throughout most of the below deck bulkheads is functional and the standard of finish on the exposed fibreglass is smooth. A simple galley comprises a two burner gas stove with sink alongside and slide-open cupboard space and there’s a pressurised hot/cold water system which also feeds to the port side shower. The moulded shower is spacious and the manual head finishes off a functional area.

Electrical power is limited due to reliance on a small 8amp alternator on the 9.9hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard. Additionally, wind and solar power would be good options to ensure plenty of amps to run the Raymarine A70 plotter, fridge and, of course, the autopilot. The review boat was fitted with two deep cycle batteries that the 8amp alternator on the Yamaha outboard could charge to a maximum of 14.5volts. In terms of options, a 20hp four-stroke motor is listed so perhaps a better choice if longer-term cruising is in mind. A comprehensive electric panel near the companionway steps controls everything and a flip-out plotter will sit nearby, allowing both the cockpit crew and navigator below decks to share the information.

Flat water and a 15-knot breeze were ideal conditions for us to sail the Corsair. Hoisting the North Sails mainsail was done without too much effort by my host David who worked the Harken B32.2 at the mast while I weather cocked the boat to ensure it cleared the lazy jacks; then with a jab at the cockpit outboard controls to douse the motor and invert it, we were away. I instantly felt at home at the sitting steering position with tiller extension in one hand and mainsheet in the other.

Bearing away, we rolled out the genoa and immediately felt the Corsair smoothly accelerate before we hardened onto the westerly breeze. Looking across the boat as the heeling angle increased -- the windward hull flying clear, yet the leeward not too buried -- gave a feeling of true exhilaration and as a bullet hit this turned to acceleration. Leeway looked minimal, as indicated from our wake angle, so the big daggerboard was doing its job well. As the gusts became heavier I bore away and was rewarded with a pleasant spume blowing off the leeward ama as the balanced rudder hissed approval behind me.

The instruments weren’t set up and calibrated yet on the new boat but for the record the figures I noted on my handheld GPS were eight knots of boatspeed in about 12 knots of wind while beating hard, with the figure jumping to 10 knots as the wind rose to about 14 knots. Off the wind reaching in flat conditions showed the mettle of the C37 with about 15 knots showing on the speedo.

Tacking through 90 degrees was again a nimble affair -- in fact I oversteered the first tack -- until I accustomed myself to the agility of the Corsair. The helm had a light feel, maintaining neutrality in the gusts, so I doubt it would be strenuous on the autopilot. Gybing was a similarly easy affair, once the mainsheet was wound in on the helmside Harken, and the Corsair spun around; while at the coachroof David trimmed the jib sheet.

The Corsair 37 showed itself to be an able performer and looks to be a well-made and practical family boat. It would be an ideal craft for shoal water cruising, club racing and its folding amas also make it possible for the occasional tow to a new cruising ground. Now, that’s what you call versatility!

Overall rating: 4.0/5.0
Mechanicals/Equipment/Rig, etc:  4.0/5.0
Packaging and Practicality: 4.0/5.0
On the water performance: 4.5/5.0
Value for money: 4.0/5.0
X-factor: 4.0/5.0

Comparable boats
Dragon fly 35 -- Quality Danish built production folding trimaran, available in Australia from Windcraft yachts and comes in Touring and Ultimate (performance) versions.
Farrier F36 -- Ian Farrier’s latest 36 foot model from his yard in NZ which includes "demountable"  floats and inboard diesel engine.
Scarab 32 -- Queensland-designed folding trimaran that is available in kit form for plywood construction.

Corsair 37CR
Price : $327,755.07 (review boat)
LOA: 11.28m (37ft)
LWL: 10.67m
Beam (overall): 7.8m
Beam (folded): 3.0m
Draft (hull only): 0.51
Draft (daggerboard down): 1.83
Weight: approx. 3050kg
Hull material: GRP/vinylester/Kevlar
Mast Length: 14.33m
Mainsail: 516 sq ft (47.9 sqm)
Jib: 285 sq ft (26.5 sqm)
Spinnaker: 1,442 sq ft (134 sqm)
Screacher: 549 sq ft (51 sqm)
Berths: Six adults (forward and aft cabin)
Water: 208 litres
Holding tank: 60 litres
Engine: 9.9hp Yamaha (20hp 4-stroke option)
Design: Corsair Marine

Supplied by:
Seawind Catamarans,
Birkenhead Point Marina,
Tel: 02 4285 9985
www.corsairmarine.com and www.seawindcats.com

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To comment on this article click here Published : Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. Automotive Data Services Pty Ltd (Redbook) makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.