Three is the perfect number! Corsair 880 (8.8 m), the trimaran with folding wings

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During the VELAFestival at Marina Cala de’ Medici, I had the opportunity to try out a cruising trimaran, with enough space on board for five people, which is foldable and can be wheeled. This is the first Corsair 880 imported to Italy, a worthy heir to F-27, Corsair Marine‘s first multihull and the only trimaran to be inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame. Corsair Marine is a California shipyard that was founded in 1984 by John T. Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, and New Zealand naval architect Ian Farrier. In 1985 he launched his first folding trimaran, F-27, which has the feature of being able to fold the two side floats vertically onto the center hull without any increase in length (this does not apply to the horizontal pivot mechanisms that move the floats aft). The system is ingenious because it allows one to enjoy the convenience of a trimaran, with all the space above deck and on the nets between the two floats, at the cost, in terms of operation, of a monohull.

Corsair 880

Corsair 880, the folding catamaran

When the Corsair 880’s floats are is open it behaves like a nomal multihull, fast and fun to sail and with large, comfortable side nets. As soon as you enter port here is the magic! The floats can be folded over the center hull, the only habitable one, reducing the maximum beam from 6.80 to 2.50 m. An operation, which takes only a few minutes, is very easy and can even be done in tow by one person. Simply unscrew four bolts and lift (to close) or push (to open) the aft transom. This can all be done safely from the cockpit and without too much effort. Once the floats are closed, the boat can be winged and loaded onto a trolley.

Corsair 880's float locking system
Corsair 880’s float locking system

What’s new in Corsair 880

Among the main new features of this model, Sandro of Trimarani Italia tells me, the Corsair 880 water line has been completely revised. The hull and floats now have reverse bows, improving the boat’s performance and ability to penetrate waves. The 12-meter, carbon mast is winged and rotating; it rotates and swivels according to the wind, improving mainsail performance. The shrouds are made of Dyneema and the mainsail, made of Dacron like the self-tacking jib, is rollable around the boom. Finally, the inboard engine was replaced with a small 9.9-horsepower outboard, which still provides a speed of 6 knots when sailing in calm seas, recovering space aft for a second cabin with a double bed. Four people sleep comfortably on board, but if you want to, if you really want to, you can go on a cruise in five.

Without the keel, you get all the way to the beach

Corsair 880 is type-approved in category B, not a given for a small multihull of this size, and weighs only 1660 kg. It has a bayonet drift, which when raised reduces the draft from 1.6 m to 45 cm, and because it does not have a keel, you recover as much weight and have the ability to beach. Although it is technically possible to capsize, as it has no keel, Sandro is keen to point out that the multihull is a safe boat because in reality it is almost impossible for it to capsize, thanks to the two side floats. Inside the latter are lockers, but these are only accessible when the boat is extended.

By raising the centreboard and rudders, the Corsair 880 can be taken all the way to the beach
By raising the centreboard and rudders, the Corsair 880 can be taken all the way to the beach

The sea trial

After telling me everything there is to know about this very special trimaran, it is time to try it at sea. The conditions are ideal, as soon as we leave Marina Cala de’ Medici we are greeted by a mistral of about 15 knots. We unfurl the mainsail, wrapped around the boom, and open the self-tacking jib, which is rigged on a very simple circuit and is set with a single sheet. Upwind we reach 12 knots and the boat is very stable. I am quite surprised, I expected to get wet aboard such a small multihull, but although there are a few waves in the sea, even upwind the cockpit is perfectly dry. After a few turns, to which the boat responds well, we lean back and get on the beam, in a moment the boat accelerates first to 13 then 14 knots, there is fun to be had! In the stern we lose speed, we don’t have gennaker on board, and with the hawser we can make 9 knots at most. The boat is sold complete with sails, but today we left gennaker and tails 0 ashore.

Corsair 880 Sport

Corsair 880’s goal is to offer any sailor, regardless of his or her ability, the opportunity to easily carry a boat around the world, be comfortable on board, and sail at a good speed without special effort. For those seeking more performance, the shipyard also offers a Sport version, which is better suited to an audience of experienced racers. This one has a carbon fiber mast that is 13.5 meters taller, sails laminated in aramid (instead of Dacron), and a lighter rig. At the bow, the bowsprit is increased to get the most out of a power-to-weight ratio that is at the top of its class.

Corsair 880 when closed is only 2.5 m wide and can be easily transported on a road cart
Corsair 880 when closed is only 2.5 m wide and can be easily transported on a road cart

Corsair 880 – Data Sheet

Overall length 8.8 m
Hull length 6.8/2.5 m
Draft 1.6/0.45 m
Tree height 12 m
Standard displacement 1,660 kg
Italian Importer Trimarani Italy

James Barbaro

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