Chris-Craft Corsair 36

A larger cockpit and a beautifully appointed interior make the Corsair 36 a true charmer.

September 21, 2012

We had a long idle run to get to the inlet on test day, a jaunt that brought us past two luxury hotels and several mansions with slips housing world-class boats and yachts. At slow speeds we had time to look around, and the one thing I noticed is that we were being noticed. The Chris-Craft Corsair 36 is the type of boat that turns heads.

The best thing Chris-Craft did was re-establish its classic brand identity, so anyone walking by the marina will immediately recognize it as such. Like all the new Chris-Craft models, the Corsair 36 flaunts its distinct aft tumblehome in concert with its eye-catching bow flare. The teak Heritage Package on our test boat — which includes the teak swim platform, cockpit sole, bow lounge and trim — only further enhanced its curb appeal. What’s not teak is 316-liter grade stainless steel, from the deck plates to the light cover to the fuel-fill cover to the through-hull fittings to the gate for the centerline walk-through to the swim platform.

For evidence of a quality build, take a look at the hatches on board. They’re all resin-infused for quality control and to keep weight down, and are smooth on both sides for a tidy appearance. Stainless-steel gas-assisted struts hold them open. When I stuck my head in the anchor locker — and later in the spotless engine compartment — I got a good look at the boat’s wiring: It meets ABYC standards and is loomed in plastic tubing. Note the waterproof Deutsch connectors.


Chris-Craft builds a noteworthy boat in places you can’t see too. The gelcoat is vinylester, which better resists fading and osmotic blistering. The stringer system is bonded to the hull with Weld-On, an adhesive that joins the two parts as if they were one piece. The hull is bolted to the deck and the rub rail is reinforced with a wooden backing strip, making this boat fit for offshore duty. Back on deck, you’ll note that the beefy stainless-steel cleats come engraved with the Chris-Craft logo. You’ll appreciate that they’re bolted into a half-inch-thick aluminum backing plate, which distributes the load, preventing gelcoat crazing and cracking and — ultimately — part failure.

Once we had room to lower the throttle and rev up the twin 430 hp MerCruiser engines, we could bring this 16,000-pound boat onto plane without much squat or delay — the bow started to fall in about five seconds. We hit 30 mph in about 13 seconds and topped out at 44 mph. All nice numbers for a boat with this displacement. The Formula 370 Super Sport, which retails for $507,220 with the same test power as the Corsair 36, is a more performance-oriented day cruiser, with a lighter 15,100-pound listed dry weight, a narrower 10-foot-9-inch beam and a twin-stepped hull. In a past test of the 370 Super Sport with twin 420 hp Volvos, it broke the 60 mph barrier, giving it a double-digit speed edge over the Corsair 36. That said, the Chris-Craft has the more interesting cockpit layout.

I’m a big fan of the U-shape cockpit seating that wraps around the Corsair 36’s transom. It makes for a great conversation pit, especially with the teak table deployed. The seats slide up and out to reveal finished fiberglass stowage bins with rubberized mats to keep gear from knocking around. I also love the rear-facing recliners on either end, allowing passengers to kick back and watch the wake. The standard refrigerator and wet bar are smartly positioned between the cockpit and the seats at either console, with space for an optional ice maker ($2,000) or second fridge ($1,761). Kudos too for making the passenger seating at the port console forward-facing and for making it double-wide with a flip-up bolster, just like the helm seat. It gives the forward cockpit area a more uniform look and allows the co-pilots to see what the captain sees. I did not love the access to the bow deck, specifically the windshield walk-through panel, which I found awkward to handle.


Belowdecks, the galley to port features a solid-surface counter with fiddled rails to keep everything off the floor — our tester had the optional maple and cherry floor. The cherry veneer cabinetry has positron latches. Forward, the elevated dinette converts to a V-berth; access to the optional ($17,000) bow thruster is underneath — not a bad option for those who are timid in the docking department, or who view it as a peace-of-mind investment for their half-million-dollar baby.

A handcrafted cherry door leads to the well-appointed head. I liked the acrylic shower door that separates the shower from the rest of the head.

Most owners will probably view this boat as a luxury day boat, but those wanting to overnight will find rest in the aft cabin, which has a double berth, a cedar hanging locker and a bench. The single port doesn’t allow much natural light. Everywhere else, though, the Corsair 36 shines so brightly that no one passing by will miss it.


Comparable model: Formula 370 Super Sport


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