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Chris-Craft Corsair 33

Deep-V Diva.

May 3, 2006

Furrow your brow and talk deadrise angles, hull-to-deck joints, and engine mounts all you want. In reality, most boaters give as much weight to good looks as they do to nuts and bolts. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to buy. That being the case, Chris-Craft’s Corsair 33 Heritage will zip out of showrooms-this is one good-looking machine.

Of course, nuts and bolts, construction and rigging, and systems and engineering do count. And if they’re as well done as I found them during my test, you won’t regret signing that check and booking a slip. Is it perfect? No boat is. I found the engine access horrible (though once I squeezed in, the rigging and installation were fantastic), and it costs about 80 grand more than the competition.

****LEGACY.**** To make fair price comparisons, understand that there are two versions of the Corsair 33. The Heritage edition I tested is fitted with several hundred feet of tropical hardwood and costs roughly-“roughly,” because the price of lumber is volatile-$26,000 more than the standard edition. The cockpit sole, swim platform, covering boards, and sunpad section of the foredeck are solid teak-elegant and bestowed with inherent nonslip properties. It’s as good as diamond pattern fiberglass, is easier on bare feet and knees, and has natural oils that encourage beading.

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Another cost issue is the Corsair 33 Heritage’s standard equipment list. Although you’ll have to pony up if you want a genset ($9,000), many big-ticket items that are optional on competitive boats, such as the windlass, electric head, and air conditioning, are standard here.

Finally, the Corsair 33 rides a sweet-running deep-V hull designed by Michael Peters. Buyers might look at the boat’s extra weight and beam, compared to similar high-end dayboats, and assume it’d be sluggish in turns, pound more in chop, and be slower getting on plane. They’d be wrong. With twin 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG Bravo Three stern drives, the Corsair 33 Heritage achieves plane effortlessly.

Applying throttle from midrange delivers a silky burst of acceleration that compressed the foam of the bolster I leaned against. Cut a turn and there’s no dropping onto the chine. Instead, the Corsair 33 Heritage leans and changes direction smoothly.

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I asked to Peters what attribute of his design is most influential in producing the Corsair 33 Heritage’s wave-smoothing ride. His answer is counterintuitive. You might expect to see a sharp, knife-like shape in the forward sections of a boat. Instead, the Corsair 33 Heritage sports convex sections. “The rounded shape dissipates force better, allowing the boat to come to a gradual stop as it comes off a head sea,” Peters said. “In following seas it inhibits the tendency to plunge.” I can attest that it works. Of course, a good-performing hull such as this, especially from a premier designer, doesn’t come cheap.

****OLD MONEY****. It’s also hard to put a price on the Corsair 33 Heritage’s lines. The tumblehome stern transitions fluidly to wide flaring topsides at the bow. Many boats look good in profile but turn into ugly ducklings when viewed from ahead, astern, or the quarters. The Corsair 33 Heritage’s rising sheer presents a sweet line no matter how you look at it.

Step onto the wide swim platform, climb the integral teak steps, and head through the teak walkthrough. You’re aboard a boat bred for partying. The aft U-lounge offers great depth and high backrests. Forward are doublewide helm and companion benches with flip bolsters. There’s a wetbar in the cockpit, and the perforated gauge panel at the grill will knock off your Costa Del Mars. Details? Check the custom latch securing the stainless-steel windshield frame’s center walkthrough: It’s a heavy chunk of metal that seems to glow from within.

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Engine access is via the hydraulic-lift hatch lounge. The geometry is such that I had to wriggle myself in. Once inside, though, I found a beautifully rigged compartment with all service points labeled and reachable. Double clamping, bonding wires, sealed limbers…Chris-Craft did it right.

Belowdecks, the main electrical panel has a light that activates when you open the door. On many boats you need a flashlight to read the breaker labels at night. Easier still, the AC and DC circuits are different colors. Shower sump access is excellent, but if the windlass hockles your rode, don’t look for anchor locker access down here. You’ll have to struggle through a small deck plate on the bow.

Cabinetry is solid hardwood. The V-berth is served by a table that rises and lowers at the touch of a switch. You’ll find an enclosed head with designer fixtures. The galley, with its two-burner stove and microwave, is the largest in its class. In all, this dayboat can accommodate a couple extending an afternoon jaunt into an overnight rendezvous.

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****THE COMPETITION.**** This combination of good looks, practical and luxurious accommodations, and great performance makes the Corsair 33 Heritage a great dayboat. Price differences aside, few boats combine the wholesome virtues and drop dead good looks of Chris-Craft’s Corsair 33. To keep them honest, I suggest you also check out these three, all powered like our test boat: Cobalt’s 323 ($231,456), Formula’s 330SS ($208,360), and Regal Boats 3350 ($186,947). Make a day of it.

The Highs: Drop-dead gorgeous. Although it has a lot of heft and beam, it handles and performs like a sprinter. Generous galley and lengthy standards list.

The Lows: It’s about the priciest dayboat around. If you can’t see your belt buckle, you can’t get in the engine room. Needs better rode locker access.

rpm knots mph gph naut. mpg. stat mpg. n. mi. range s. mi. range run angle sound level
1000 5.0 5.7 4.0 1.2 1.4 231 265 0 69
1500 7.0 8.0 6.9 1.0 1.2 188 2 2 74
2000 8.2 9.4 133 0.7 0.7 114 4 4 79
2500 16.9 19.4 19.1 1.0 1.0 164 4 4 79
3000 24.9 28.7 25.8 1.1 1.1 180 3 3 80
3500 28.5 32.8 31.9 1.0 1.0 166 3 3 82
4000 35.2 40.5 44.4 0.9 0.9 148 3 3 82
4500 39.2 45.1 60.3 0.7 0.7 121 3 3 85
4870 41.8 48.1 66.0 0.7 0.7 118 2 2 86

LOA: 34’11”

Beam: 12’3″

Draft: 3’0″

Displacement (lbs., approx.): 13,200

Transom deadrise: 20*

Bridge clearance: 6’11”

Max. cabin headroom: 5’6″

Fuel capacity (gal.): 207

Water capacity (gal.): 37 ****

Price (w/standard power): $319,000

Price (w/test power): $332,000

STANDARD POWER: Twin 320-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GXi V-8 gasoline stern drives.

OPTIONAL POWER: Twin MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gaso- line stern drives to 850 hp total; twin 225-bhp Volvo Penta D4 diesel stern drives.

TEST BOAT POWER****: Twin 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG V-8 gasoline stern drives with 496 cid, swinging 26″-pitch ss Bravo Three propsets through 2.2:1 reductions.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT: (major items) 12,000-Btu a/c; water heater; anchor windlass; hydraulic engine hatch; dual 30a shorepower; galvanic isolator; Bimini top; cockpit cover; hot/cold cockpit shower; AM/FM/CD stereo w/4 speakers; wetbar; ss-framed Solex windshield; dual-voltage refrigerator; microwave; enclosed head w/shower and electric commode.

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