Telstar 28 versus Corsair F28

Posted on Wednesday 1 February 2006

I was recently asked by one of my readers about the Telstar and how it compares to the Corsair F28. He was wondering how much of a performance hit you take with a Telstar over a F28. He was also curious about how well the Telstar points upwind and how well it performs in light winds.

Here’s how the specs stack up against each other.

Beam: The Corsair is also 19′ 9″ wide, compared to the Telstar’s 18′, which may give it a bit better stability…but I doubt it is significantly more stable. The stability is also influenced by the ama and rig design, but I can’t speak to which is more stable overall.

Draft: The Corsair is a bit deeper draft, with 4′ 11″ daggerboard down and 1′ 2″ with daggerboard up, versus 4′ 6″ centerboard down and 1′ with it up for the Telstar. I don’t know which has more surface area, the daggerboard on the Corsair or the centerboard on the Telstar, and that is probably more significant in terms of lateral tracking ability than the actual draft.

Hull: I believe the Corsair has slightly less windage than the Telstar, as the cabin is significantly smaller than that of the Telstar. This probably gives the F28 a bit better performance upwind.

Rig: The Corsair also has a 36′ 6″ rotating mast, rather than the slightly shorter 35′ fixed mast on the Telstar, which will give the F28 a bit better performance, especially upwind. However, the rig on the Corsair is attached to the amas, and may be significantly weakened when the amas are retracted. The rig on the Telstar is attached to the center hull and is not affected by the ama position. The heavier and taller rig on the Corsair will tend to be less stable than the lower, lighter rig on the Telstar.

Sail Area: The Corsair has more sail area, with 300 sq. ft. for the main and 175 sq. ft. for the jib, compared to the Telstar’s 242 sq. ft for the main and 168 sq. ft. for the jib.

Waterline: The Corsair’s waterline comes in at 26′ 3″ versus the Telstar’s 26′ 6″. I don’t believe the difference is a significant one, especially given that these are multi-hulls, and not displacement monohulls.

Weight: The Corsair is about 900 pounds lighter, at 2,690 pounds, compared to the Telstar’s 3,600** pounds. This gives the Corsair the edge.

Upwind Performance: The Telstar points upwind quite well, and I’ve sailed one as close as 35 degrees off the wind, but performance is much better once you’re at about 45 degrees or so. I’d imagine, if I had been interested in more performance, we could have pointed a bit higher, but with some loss of speed. This is pretty comparable to the Corsair F28 in my experience.

Light Air Performance: This is probably more a factor of what sails you have in your inventory. I believe the roller furling screacher on the Telstar is 400 sq. ft. versus the Corsair’s 358 sq. ft screacher.

On the Telstar, we were able to do six knots close reaching in nine knots of wind using the only the main and 150% Genoa. Granted, we weren’t trying to trim the sails to maximize performance at the time. On a Corsair F28 in the spring of 2004, we were doing a bit over ten knots in ten knots of wind close reaching, but I don’t remember what sails were up at the time and the crew was trying a bit harder to make some speed.

Note: Two things that matter: on the Telstar, we had a 50 HP four-stroke outboard motor and four people; on the Corsair, we had a considerably lighter 9.9 HP two-stroke engine and three people.

Conclusion: I think that the Corsair F28 is a faster boat than the Telstar. The Corsair F28 is lighter and has a more efficient rig and can have more sail up. The spinnaker for the Corsair is much larger than the Telstar, 780 sq. ft. versus 590 sq. ft. The rotating mast also gives the F28 an edge upwind. If the Telstar and the Corsair are both loaded up for cruising, then I think the Corsair’s racing oriented design will suffer far more than the heavier Telstar. If both are stripped down in weight, the Corsair will offer significant performance advantages over the Telstar, as the Telstar is not designed to be raced.

But, I don’t believe that the speed advantages of the Corsair F28 outweigh the advantages of the Telstar—in terms of the comfort and safety, cabin space, better galley and head facilities, side decks/net usability, rig design or ama design. Also note, I don’t believe the Corsair F28 has lifelines on the amas—the Telstar does have removable lifelines for the amas as well as rigid sidedecks.

The Telstar can easily motor at 15 knots with the amas deployed or retracted using the 50 HP outboard. I don’t believe the Corsair is capable of this—certainly not with the amas retracted. The Telstar cruises at about seven knots with the 20 HP outboard. Also, I believe the Telstar’s amas are slightly more buoyant than the Corsair’s but don’t have actual figures for this.

If you’re looking for a boat to scream around the buoys with, then the Corsair makes much more sense. If you’re looking for a very capable and comfortable cruising sailboat, with an emphasis on comfort and versatility, then the Telstar is probably a better choice.

* Telstar jib size estimated from the 150% genoa, which measures 274 sq. ft.

** The weight of the Telstar is based on the specifications found in the Telstar 28 owner’s manual that is currently being written by Performance Cruising, Inc., which includes the weight of the outboard, sails, rigging and options. The boat I was on was probably slightly lighter, around 3,400 pounds or so. The Corsair F28 weight is from Corsair’s website and I believe it only consists of the actual hull and rigging, and does not include the outboard or other options.

8 Comments for 'Telstar 28 versus Corsair F28'

    Dave Larom
    February 2, 2006 | 1:45 pm

    I appreciate the depth of your responses. I was agreeably surprised at how much your analysis tallies with my own less formal investigations. Agree the Corsairs have unattractive (and ergonomically clumsy) interiors, definitely look like racers. The Dragonflys are gorgeous but expensive. The Telstar really stands out as the best compromise of price, esthetics, cruising comfort, trailerability, safety/seaworthiness and performance under power and sail.There’s a few others — Trimax, Contour 34 SC, Condor 30 pretty much round it out & I forget my reasons for rejecting these. I think the Contour & Condor are “demountables” rather than true trailers and the Trimax is an expensive Euro-racer. wonder if you looked at those? I can send you links/material if you’re interested in applying your very substantial analytical skills to comparing these to the Telstar as well. You’ve done such a great job, maybe you should expand your posts into a “Trailer-Tri review”!

    If I do eventually cross an ocean, I think a larger boat will be safer. Do you disagree? There is some evidence (for instance statistics from the disastrous Fastnet race) suggesting that a boat under 35-40′ will do much worse under open-ocean severe storm conditions, freak waves etc. There are no ocean-capable, truly trailerable larger boats — I wish someone would build one.
    * The C36 is the largest trailerable (as opposed to demountable) tri. However, Ian Farrier himself says Corsair 36 aka-to-hull fittings are not safe and have failed (he didn’t design this boat and is no longer affiliated with Corsair though they sell his designs).
    * Farrier F-39 is a great design but is a demountable not a true trailer. Not sure if any have been built but looks like a fine design.
    * Same for the Dragonfly 1200 which is in my opinion the most beautiful and well-fitted folding trimaran I’ve found on the market. But she really folds just for docking, not for trailering. I LOVE the attention to detail on the Dragonflys. They are very expensive — probably a combination of high quality and the exchange rate.

    So I’m leaning toward a Telstar 28 near-term (2-10 years) for coastal cruising, then a Dragonfly 1200 (*maybe* an F39 but the interior is inferior) for my Pacific voyage/circumnavigation after I get rich and retire early 😀 :^D Many would prefer a catamaran for the greater comfort but I think the performance advantages plus cheaper docking make a good case for a blue-ocean folding tri.

    Re engines: I’m into alternative energy. Have you ever looked into the Solomon Technologies offerings? Not sure they’d scale down to Telstar 28 level but the possibility of having oceangoing “regenerative sailing” that can charge batteries while sailing and let you power with no internal combustion engine are very tempting:

    February 2, 2006 | 5:38 pm

    I did look at the Corsairs and Dragonflys primarily, as they’re really the most competitive with the Telstar. The Contour and Trimax, I had seen but due to difficulties in actually getting more information and a chance to actually see them in person, I decided to not seriously consider them. Also, the ama design on the Contour has some structural weaknesses from what I’ve found, and I wanted to avoid those problems.

    As for bluewater passages, I don’t believe a bigger boat is necessarily safer. The older Telstar 26 has made several Atlantic crossings as well as done quite well in the Round the Island race in Great Britain. Given that the North Sea is quite nasty at times, I don’t see that there should be any problems in a Telstar 28 with regards to a bluewater passage. Much of the information from the Fastnet race is only applicable to monohulls.

    One other point is that larger boats tend to have larger rigs, and are therefore much more difficult to handle, especially if there is an equipment problem. Most single-handers I’ve conversed with have said that size is not generally an advantage. The rig on a 35′ multihull is often greater than that of a comparably size monohull.

    For example, the Corsair F36 has a main with an area of 516 sq. ft, versus a 315 sq. ft. mainsail on the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37. If you have equipment problems, the 516 sq. ft. main is significantly heavier and harder to handle, reef, stow than the 315 sq. ft. sail. And I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to leave a Sun Odyssey 37 in my wake in the Pretty Gee.

    The one piece of gear I am getting was developed as a result of the Fastnet disaster. It is a Jordan series drogue. I believe that this is really the one piece of safety gear that will make any bluewater passages very safe, regardless of the weather conditions. You can read about it at I have written designer, Don Jordan, and asked him about sizing such a drogue for a Telstar.

    The real problem I found with the Dragonflys, aside from their somewhat prohibitive price, is that they will tend to cost a lot more in the long run. Most marinas charge by the length of the boat, and the Dragonflys are considerably longer when the amas are retracted. Also, from what I have found in my researching the Dragonflys, they are not exceptionally stable with the amas folded back, as it affects their stability and ability to steer well…the folded amas effectively move the rudder from the aft of the boat to about a quarter of the way in.

    As for regenerative energy, I don’t see a real need for it. I have two 80W solar panels sitting here, waiting for to be put on the Pretty Gee, and I believe they should be able to handle most of the energy requirements I will have. The problem with an electric propulsion system is the high inefficiencies in the system as well as the much increased weight of a battery bank sufficient to handle the load requirements. I don’t actually see myself using the outboard any great amount, as the Telstar has fairly decent light air performance, given the right sail inventory.

    February 6, 2006 | 10:33 pm

    Is the Telstar 28 unsinkable? Dragonfly claims that their tri’s are unsinkable.
    Oh and great blog.

    February 6, 2006 | 10:49 pm

    While no boat is unsinkable, I doubt it would be easy to sink a Telstar. The deck is balsa-cored fiberglass, and the three hulls are independent, so to actually sink the Telstar, you’d have to hole all three hulls. The main hull has several buoyancy compartments, including one under the cockpit area berth. The amas are separated into three compartments as well.

    February 11, 2006 | 12:19 pm

    Nicely done blog. Re ocean passaging on a Telstar. Do they have an escape hatch on the bottom, in the unlikely event of a flip? If it does not that would concern me. What does Performance Cruising think about ocean passages on their Telstar?



    July 29, 2007 | 6:12 pm


    No, Telstars do not have an escape hatch built in the bottom. I haven’t spoken with Will or Tony regarding doing bluewater passages on the Telstar specifically, but believe that with the modifications I’ve made to the Pretty Gee, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. If a Corsair 28 is capable of crossing oceans, I see no reason a Telstar 28 would not be able to do it as well, if not in more comfort.

    August 17, 2007 | 6:08 pm


    I have really enjoyed the blog. Your research parallels my own. I would love to see a slightly bigger version of the Telstar 28 (T2) since I plan on taking the multihull I eventually purchase extensively out on the open ocean. I am a bit concerned how this boat would hold up under really big waves such as those we encounter in the Pacific Ocean out here in NorCal. (I don’t want to argue about whose waves are bigger, Atlantic or Pacific. Yet I know for a fact they hold the big wave surfing competitions out here at Jaws, Mavericks or Todos Santos for a reason!)

    I would hate to run into those on a trans-pac voyage in a slightly undersized boat like the T2.

    Also, one other source you should consider reading is the excellent book, “Storm Tactics Handbook,” by Lin and Larry Pardey. While much of the book applies to keel hulled boats, you might change your mind about getting a Jordan Series drogue in favor of the para-anchor type described in the book. They also explain the vastly superior method of “heaving to” in great detail promoting this often underused technique as the ultimate heavy weather tactic. This is in contrast to running off under partial sails or bare poles, a common heavy weather technique which often leads to disaster. Their concern is that the Jordan drogue does not offer a wide enough slick to dissipate extremely big waves when heaving to. In other discussion boards I have observed that “heaving to” may not work as well with multihull sailboats because they have less drag. But using a larger sized para-anchor (18′) for a multihull will in effect create the same drag and disturbance necessary to create the wave dissipating slick. I know if I ever encounter really big waves on one of my future passages I will most certainly deploy some form of “heave to/para-anchor” technique no matter what boat I am sailing, be it single or multi hull.

    Of course we should be able to sail away from most of these situations in our super-fast multihulls, but you never know. Certainly having a plan of what to do if really big waves and wind suddenly hit while out at sea on a long voyage are useful skills and knowledge.


    August 17, 2007 | 10:20 pm

    I’ve done quite a bit of research, and have the book by the Pardeys, as well as several others on heavy weather tactics. However, I still believe that a Jordan Series Drogue is the best defense a small sailboat can have in extreme conditions. The JSD doesn’t depend on a slick being formed by the drogue to protect the boat. The shock loads caused by a larger parachute-type sea anchors I think are far more dangerous to the boat than the lower loads generated by the JSD design. I also think that the danger of the parachute-type anchors collapsing under wave action are a serious problem, which is eliminated by the JSD design.

    One modification I made that I think will improve the seaworthiness of the Telstar 28 is the addition of a bridgedeck. Not only does this reduce the volume of water that can fill the cockpit of the boat by about 300 lbs, by taking up almost five cubic feet in size from the cockpit volume—it also greatly reduces the risk of downflooding into the cabin from the cockpit.

    I designed and installed the cockpit bridgedeck following the last sail of last season, where I had about 30 gallons of water down below because I forgot to leave in the bottom drop board. I installed the bridgedeck as one of my spring projects.

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