Telstar 28—Evolution

Posted on Friday 2 January 2009

I originally wrote the following post for the International Telstar Owners Association Forum.  I’ve decided to re-publish it here as well, since many of the visitors to my blog are interested in the Telstar 28.


The Telstar 28 was introduced in late 2003. Since the boat was introduced, it has had some changes to the design as it has evolved.

The original boats had a centerboard with a draft of 4′ 3″. It was offered in two models, a base version that was essentially the hull and mast, but didn’t include the mast-raising system or much in the way of an interior, outboard or electrical system. The deluxe model had a factory finished interior with the head, galley, and nav console with the basic electrical system, and the 20 HP outboard. IIRC, the mast-raising system was an option. Other options included the bimini, the dodger, laminate sails and a larger 50 HP outboard.

When I ordered my boat, back in late 2006, I had spoken with Will and Tony at length, and asked that some modifications to the design be made. These modifications included adding bow chocks to the bow to improve line-handling, rather than just having a single cleat. There were other modifications I had asked about as well. Originally, I was supposed to get a hull in the 320s.

Due to the requests I had made, and which Tony had seen worthwhile to adding to the production version of the Telstar, I ended up with hull #334, which is my Pretty Gee. She came with a few options that were being tested at the time, like shore power and a refrigerator. I believe she was the first customer boat to have both shorepower and a refrigerator factory installed.

Another option that has been offered off and on is a tall rig for the Telstar. The standard mast is 35′ 6″ tall from the mast step to the mast crane. I believe the tall rig is either 37′ tall. The boom is also about six inches lower on the tall rig boats. This gives the tall rig boats an additional 2′ of sail area. As far as I know, all of the rigging except the backstay is the same as on the standard rig boat, so the genoa is the same size on either boat.

Since my boat, the factory has changed the molds to include a dam in the hull liner for the shower/head area, so that the head can be converted into a shower more easily. This is still a work in progress. There is also a curtain that closes off the forepeak in the more recent boats, and the interior liner of the head has been changed to make it more suitable for using the compartment as a shower.

Another major change is the centerboard. The latest boats have a centerboard that is 9″ longer than the original design, with a draft of 5′. This is supposed to help the boat point better and resist leeway better. Personally, I haven’t had a problem with leeway or pointing on my boat as far as I’ve seen.

The ama intermediate boxes were also changed to allow the side decks that fold down when the amas are retracted drop more vertically than on the original design. This cleans up the appearance of the boat a bit when the boat has the amas folded. From what I understand, it was a cosmetic change, but the boxes differ enough from the ones on the older boats that they are no longer interchangeable.

The amas also no longer have the holes for the lifeline stanchions, which appear to have been a big source of ama leaks. I am using one of the stanchion holes for the solar panel mounts on the Pretty Gee, but generally never bother with mounting the lifelines or stanchions.

The cockpit drains on the original Telstar 28 consisted of two round drains, one mid-cockpit on the port side below the engine throttle control, another in the starboard aft corner. The only problem with this is that the Telstar leans a bit to port, which means that there was usually a small amount of water standing in the cockpit. The later models have a wide slot like drain along the transom that drains out onto the rear swim platform. This seems to work a good deal better. On the Pretty Gee, I’ve added a drain in the port-side of the transom, to clear the standing water out.

The boom and forestay on the later boats have had extension links added to them to make lowering the rig simpler. The forestay extension link allows you to move the furler up towards the top of the mast, so that when the mast is down, the furler is better supported by the mast, with the furling drum just below the mast foot. On the older design without the extension link, you have to detach the forestay/furler foil and move it back up the mast to support the furling drum. The boom extension link allows you to keep the boom and mainsail attached when lowering the mast.

The cabin interior has evolved a bit as well. The older boats didn’t have the cushions that go against the forward ama hinge point at the front of the cabin settees. The small cabinets and interior liner that make up the aft bulkhead of the cabin have been added since my boat was built, as have the two stainless steel hand rails by the partial bulkheads at the forward end of the galley and nav station.

The refrigerator option on the Telstar has gone through several changes as well. Originally, it was an Engel M27, which was mounted outboard of the stove. Then it was a drawer type refrigerator that was mounted below the companionway steps. The most recent boats have gone back to the Engel M27 top-loading refrigerator, but it has been moved to the port side of the companionway, with a slightly narrower companionway ladder. I like the Engel units. They are fairly quiet, and very energy efficient. They are also very highly rated by Practical Sailor magazine.

Even the mast raising system has changed a bit on the newer boats. On my boat, one of the A-frames is mounted to a set of tracks. I don’t believe the newer boats have the tracks on the cabin top any longer. I am considering using the tracks for sheeting a storm jib. It would give me very tight, in-board sheeting and help the boat point better. I have to ask Tony if the tracks are strong enough for that purpose.

The Telstar 28 is a relatively young design, only about five years old. As such, it is still evolving, being tweaked by Tony, often with feedback from the owners of the earlier boats. I don’t think there are two Telstar 28s made that are identical, as Tony has been constantly tweaking the design.

Overall, I am very happy with my choice to get a Telstar 28, as I’ve written on my blog. If you’re looking for a versatile, fun boat, that can work as a trailerable daysailer, but is capable of longer cruises, then this might be a good choice for you.

4 Comments for 'Telstar 28—Evolution'

    February 24, 2011 | 5:30 am

    This might sound kind of funny but I’d really like to know what you think the out come of a race, sail only, would be between the Telstar 28 and the Macgregor 26m over a 20 mile coarse at let’s say 15-18 knot winds? I realize you’d only be guessing but at least it would be considered an educated guess I suppose. Thanks.

    March 1, 2011 | 8:39 pm

    Of course a lot depends on the course layout, but on most points of sail the MacGregor 26m would get clobbered IMHO.

    First, the Telstar has a longer water line, 26′ 3″ versus the 23′ 2″ of the M26M. The boats are probably about the same in weight with the water ballast tanks full, 4000 lbs for both, based on the M26M having 1150 lbs. water ballast, 2550 lbs. for the empty boat.

    Second, the Telstar 28 has a mainsail of 242 sq ft and a 150% genny of 274 sq. ft, for a total sail area of 516 sq. ft versus the M26M’s main of 170 sq. ft, and 150% genny of 206 sq. ft for a total of 376 sq. ft., or only 73% of the sail area.

    Third, the mast on the Telstar is about 41′ air draft, versus the 35′ airdraft of the M26M, meaning the top 5′ of sail area of the Telstar is going to be in stronger winds.

    Also, the Macgregor 26M generally puts in its first reef at 15-20 knots of wind speed…the Telstar 28 generally starts to reef at 20 knots, so the Macgregor would likely have a reef in.

    Finally, I’d point you to one of my videos on Youtube, where we had originally started out far behind a Macgregor of some sort, and passed it quite quickly. I didn’t fire up the video camera until the Mac was well behind us, but you can see it pretty clearly in the video.

    September 3, 2012 | 12:20 am

    What has happened to Tony?
    Will he ever start making the Telstar again?

    September 5, 2012 | 5:59 pm


    Tony and Sue retired from the boat building world in 2009 when they split Performance Cruising into two separate companies.

    One company retained the name and the Gemini Catamaran product line and was sold to a management company owned by Laura Hershfeld, Tony’s daughter. She partnered with The Catamaran Company to help handle sales of the Gemini Catamarans and outsourced production to Hunter Boats, who now make the Gemini Catamarans under contract/license.

    The second company was called Performance Sailing and took over the Telstar trimaran production lines and associated debt. It was split off to allow Laura to buy the Gemini product line and Performance Cruising company name without the associated debt incurred by the recent development of the Telstar trimarans and their new production building.

    As far as I know, production of the Telstar 28 has been halted with about 90 boats built overall. I do not know if Tony ever intends to resume production. If the economy improves and he gets a large enough demand for the boats, he might resume production if it happens in the near future, but I don’t see that happening given the economy.

    One of the bigger problems was that there was a greater demand for the boats outside of North America than here in the USA/Canada. But, the logistics and costs of shipping the Telstar 28s overseas made it unprofitable to do so, especially with the more stringent EU safety requirements.

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