BOAT TEST: CORSAIR DASH 750

By: ALLAN WHITING

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Are two hulls better than one? How about three? ALLAN WHITING flies a tri, the Corsair Dash 750, in some fickle winds on Pittwater

BOAT TEST: CORSAIR DASH 750
Corsair Dash 750

We'd been intending for some time to have a run in the latest Corsair Dash 750 design that was significantly upgraded in 2009. The quest was given some urgency by the recent takeover of Corsair Marine by Seawind Catamarans.

This acquisition surprised most industry observers and particularly me, because I'd accidentally spotted a new catamaran design on one of Seawind's office computers during a factory visit in mid-2010. The computer-screen drawings looked like a compacted Seawind 1000, but with fuller forward hull sections. Interestingly, the drawing suggested that the hulls and bridgedeck were sub-assemblies that possibly bolted together. Naturally, I expected any new model announcement from Seawind to concern this new venture, not the purchase of a trimaran maker.

However, on reflection, I remembered the reaction Richard Ward - Seawind's boss - had at the Seawind owners' regatta held on Sydney's Pittwater in 2009. Line honours in the two races went to a Seawind 24 and Ward seemed torn between the pleasure that a 20-year-old-plus Seawind could provide and, well, the disappointment that his new 1250 flagship couldn't run it down! Perhaps there was a tinge of regret that current Seawinds, while being highly seaworthy, lack the around-the-cans performance heritage of earlier Richard Ward efforts. The Corsair line-up should fill that role nicely.

But the Corsair acquisition needn't spell the end of Seawind's almost-secret budget-catamaran venture, because Ward promised two product announcements in 2010 and 2011. So watch this space.

 

 

CORSAIR CRAFT


Corsair has been building performance trimarans for 25 years and has sold more than 1600 boats, with successful export markets including the USA, Europe and Australia. The company's current range includes the Dash and Sprint 750 models (24ft) as well as the C28, C31 and C37 trimarans. A 50ft performance catamaran, designed by Reichel Pugh, completes the Corsair line-up. However, the Dash and Sprint 750 models account for half the company's production output, so one of these suited us perfectly for a test.

The Dash won out over the Sprint as a test boat, because the former incorporates design upgrades, whereas the Sprint is virtually a one-design racing version of the 24 Mk II, with the original Corsair 24 centre hull and floats, a small cabin and a cockpit that runs from just behind the mast to rudder.

Yes, we know the Corsair Dash 750 is a trailerable yacht that usually wouldn't appear in the pages of <I>Trade-a-Boat</I>, but many owners prefer to moor their Corsairs rather than launch them every time they want to go sailing. Berths for multihulls are relatively expensive but not so in the case of the Dash 750. It has a folding-float design that's particularly easy to operate, allowing the boat to be berthed in a monohull slot at monohull prices.

Although the Dash and Sprint are developments of the successful Corsair 24 Mk II and share the same rotating aluminium wing mast, aluminium dagger board, rudder and extendable bowsprit, the Dash 750 has a plumb bow, giving it a longer waterline, along with larger volume floats than the Mk II and the Sprint.

Both Corsairs have narrow cabins with forward vee-berths and Porta Potti cubbyholes, but the Dash's cabin is longer, allowing space for a four-place central table that doubles as a bed extension base and an optional, ingenious roll-out galley. It has a pop-top section forward of the companionway. Even so, the cabin is squeezy and accurately prescribed for daysailing and overnight camping-style accommodation. The cabin roof lining is old-fashioned carpet applique, which hopefully will be modernised by Seawind's influence.

 

 

FOLDING FLAIR


Corsair's folding-float system is designed to work with the boat in the water. The folded floats sit snug against the hull and are simply pushed away to extend their arms to horizontal. This action unfolds the trampoline mesh panels and four hex-head bolts lock the arms in place.

The Dash 750 rig is simple: a straight, spreader-free, rotating mast with roller boom and integrated vang supported by synthetic shrouds and a wire forestay. A working jib is hanked to the forestay and an optional screacher or asymmetric spinnaker is pulled to the end of the bowsprit, via block and running tack line. Two coaming-mounted Harken 16 primary winches control jib and 'extra' sheets and two cabin-top halyard winches operate the running rigging, via four clutches. The mainsheet runs through a 6:1 tackle on a traveller that spans the full width of the cockpit.

Steering is done by a blade rudder, pivoted off the main hull, with an extendable pole as the standard steering stick. The test boat was fitted with an optional twin-extension arrangement.
Auxiliary power comes in the form of a 8hp Yamaha two-stroke outboard, clipped to a stern bracket.

 

 

ON THE WATER


Pittwater laid on a flat-sea day, with a breeze that varied from 8 to 12kts. The three-up crew consisted of David Renouf, Corsair's Sydney agent, Steve Kiely, champion multihull skipper, and me.

David stores the rigged Dash 750 demo boat on the hard at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, so he's adept at craning it off the trailer into the briny. Lift slings are positioned so the boat adopts a slight bow-down attitude that David feels is optimum for launching.

With the boat loosely secured to RPA's dock, we extended the floats and then motored out into the channel. The light trimaran powered adequately with the outboard at half revs and steering under power was accurate, with little tiller effort.

Making sail was quick, thanks to a pre-hanked jib and the easy unrolling action of the boom. The rolling action is purely for sail stowage, with slab reefing gear supplied to shorten up mainsail area.

Trimmed for beating, the Dash 750 rapidly accelerated to wind speed and the strong primary winches, easily-handled mainsheet tackle and long traveller allowed tight sheeting of the Pentex sails. With its foil dagger board and deep rudder, the boat angled a little lower than where you'd expect a 12m cruiser/racer to point. Much of that variation was caused by the fact that the Corsair was travelling about 50 per cent faster, which of course pulled the apparent wind forward. I regularly race in a 13m monohull against trimarans, which travel a little farther but always do us!

Because the Dash 750 sat quite flat it was possible to steer from the cockpit coaming, but better viewing of the jib tufts and control of boat attitude in puffs was done from the windward hull. Hiking straps initially stopped the helmsperson sliding inboard onto the net, but worked just like dinghy straps when the wind piped up and bums went over the side.

Tacking, using the twin tiller extensions was simple: push the helm away; walk across the net, through the cockpit and onto the new windward hull and pick up the other extension. The initial push on the helm served to send the boat through the eye of the wind as neatly and quickly as a monohull.

When it came time to drop sails, the Dash 750 again proved easy to handle, with the jib simply dropping and the main rolled around the boom by a crank.

In the performance for outlay and upkeep stakes it's hard to go past the Corsair Dash 750. Potential super-yacht performance comes at an embarrassingly low price.

 

 

(FAST FACTS)


Cruising, weekending, club or serious racing all fit into the Corsair Dash 750's brief. The boat is easily launched, rigged and sailed, or can be moored for walk-on access in a small monohull pen, with floats folded, or put on a swinging mooring with floats extended. Value for money is excellent.

 

 

The Corsair chronicle


Corsair Marine was established in the USA in 1984 by John Walton, son of Sam Walton, founder of the retail giant Wal-Mart. He was a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and the fourth-richest man in the USA. John Walton employed world-renowned trimaran designer, Ian Farrier, a Kiwi, as vice president of the company, to design Corsair's boats.
The brilliant F-27 followed and won approval all over the world, but Corsair insisted on design changes that didn't sit well with Farrier, who resigned and returned Down Under. His subsequent F-31 was another success, while Corsair's designs languished.

In 1994, John Walton sold Corsair Marine to Paul Koch who was Corsair Marine's Australian dealer at the time. Koch also owned a boatbuilding company in Australia called OSTAC Pty Ltd and had worked with Farrier. So when Koch bought Corsair Marine, he invited Farrier to return.

Farrier agreed, provided that the F-24 and F-31 original designs were maintained and he worked at Corsair Marine for the next six years. When Farrier left in 2000, Corsair Marine purchased the rights to his trimaran designs. Subsequently, the boat model prefixes changed from the Farrier 'F' to the Corsair 'C'.

In 2006, Corsair Marine relocated its head office and production facility from California to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Shortly after this move Koch said: "We have proof positive that the product we are building in Vietnam is not only equal to, but in many ways superior to the products that we used to build in the US".

Dealers represent and service Corsair Marine's trimarans in eight regions of the USA and 17 other locations around the world.

 

 

(FACTS & FIGURES)
CORSAIR DASH 750

 

 

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING


The real fun began with this test after bearing away and easing sheets to a reach. The Dash 750 leapt above wind speed and accelerated even more when the asymmetric spinnaker was popped. Kite hoisting was easy, thanks to bag location on the leeward net, well clear of the eased jib. Trimming was also ideal, because of the tri's wide sheeting base. A longish bowsprit made gybing a cinch, outside the forestay and inside the spinnaker luff.

 

 

HOW MUCH?

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$99,500

 

OPTIONS FITTED


Roll-out galley, asymmetric spinnaker

 

PRICED FROM


$94,900 w/ braked, single-axle galvanised trailer

 

 

GENERAL


MATERIAL: PVC-cored FRP laminate hulls
TYPE: Trimaran
LENGTH OVERALL: 7.4m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 7.2m
BEAM: 2.5m (folded); 5.53m (unfolded)
DRAFT: 0.3m (dagger board raised); 1.6m (board down)
MAST HEIGHT: 10.8m
WEIGHT: 916kg (w/o sails and motor)

 

 

CAPACITIES


BERTHS: Twin vee-berth forward and two settee berths
FUEL: 20lt
WATER: 40lt

SAILS
MAIN: 24.4m²
JIB: 15.43m²
ASYMMETRIC SPINNAKER: 58.3m²

 

 

ENGINE


MAKE: Yamaha
TYPE: Outboard
RATED HP: 8

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Seawind Catamarans,
25 York Place,
Russell Vale, NSW, 2517
Phone: (02) 4285 9985
Fax: (02) 4285 9984
Website: www.seawindcats.com

 

 

TRADEABOAT SAYS...


If you want fast, relatively flat sailing in cruising or racing modes the Corsair Dash 750 will deliver, while not breaking the bank. Accommodation is somewhat restrictive, but if you're happy with camping-style overnighting or going ashore the boat can double as a family weekender. The trimaran can be moored or taken home on a single-axle trailer.

 

Find Corsair Dash boats for sale.

 


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