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post #4 of Old 05-04-2010
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I know the Corsairs reasonably well. Like the the Pearson Ariel, Cape Dory 25, and 25D, these are nice little coastal cruisers. Depending on the year and individual build quality (more on this later), although slower than the Pearson Ariel, Cape Dory 25, and 25D, my sense is that I would suggest that the Corsair generally sails better than these across a wider windspeed range.

Build quality on these boats vary very widely and in significangt ways. I had a chance to talk to the former production manager at Bristol, who worked at Bristol during the period that these boats were built. These boats began life as a Sailstar Corsair. When SailStar got into finacial trouble, the bank asked Clint Pearson, then owner of Bristol, if he would take over production of the Sailstars. According to the production manager, as originally designed the Corsair had lead ballast. In a cost savings move, Sailstar had gone to leadshot in concrete for ballast. When Bristol took over, as a further cost savings move, Bristol went to iron boiler punchings in concrete, with leadshot as an option.

Now this is where it gets dicey. Although poured as a concrete matrix, the keels for the Corsairs were actually cast in a mold and then put into the boat. As the production manager described it, there was a cement mixer at Bristol and there were a couple laborers at Bristol who made extra money mixing the cement and pouring the ballast after closing hour. These guys were pretty careless mixing the proportions of iron to concrete pretty much by eye and so the proportions varied very widely. And if there wasn't enough iron on hand, or there was no iron on hand, they poured the ballast anyway. In at least one case, the boat owner complained that the boat was dangerously tender and when it was investigated no iron was found in the concrete. This boat was repaired by glassing in some lead pigs above the concrete.

Based on that story I have always been leery of the Bristol built Corsairs. My other concern is with the builkhead construction. The original Corsairs had mahogany marine plywood. Later boats had formica over plywood. I understand that some of the last boats also went back to teak or mahogany faced ply as an option. The problem with formica over ply is that the ply can rot out or delaminate and not be visible until it fails. I have helped repair boats on which that has happened.

I personally would not consider the Corsair, or with the possible exception of the CD 25D, the other boats on your list, to be particularly good offshore boats. But in a pinch, assuming you mean the Bahamas and Carribbean they may be acceptable for Island Hopping.


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