After more than 130 years of pleasure craft boat building, Chris-Craft is certainly the best known name in boating, at least in North America and the brand is alive and well today, building high-end boats for discriminating customers.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chris-Craft president Stephen Heese and he has a clear mission; to build modern fiberglass boats using the best available materials and techniques while maintaining a look that acknowledges the Chris-Craft heritage. He also makes no apologies for the cost of doing things this way. He knows the Chris-Craft customers he is serving are not looking for compromises.
The Corsair 36 was introduced a few months ago at the Miami International Boat Show and the family resemblance was immediately clear. The Corsair follows in the recent Chris-Craft design line of large, fast and luxurious open boats. This is not a cabin cruiser or a hardtop although the Corsair has sleeping accommodations for four. The Corsair has a large Bimini roof and it is equipped for all seasons and built to take on offshore waters.
Canadian Yachting tester John Armstrong commented when he first saw the boat in the water in Sarasota, Florida that it was an overwhelming boat to see in person. The lines are still graceful and sporty, but this is a large boat as well. The high sides, generous bow flair and very deep vee hull are ready to deal with offshore conditions, and at high speeds too.
There are few 36 footers that can sleep 4, feed more and still run out to 44+ mph. This is not a “go fast” bad boy boat though, it’s for a gentleman and comfort is a top priority.
The helm is a perfect example of this. The genuine mahogany wood rim steering wheel looks as though it belongs in a vintage Jaguar. It’s lovely to hold in your hands and tilts to whatever angle is comfortable for you. The helm seat is a double width and adjusts fore and aft. An angled teak foot brace makes spirited running more comfortable. The flip up seat bolster lets you sit up over the windshield and if you want, it is also comfortable to stand up when running the boat.
Directly ahead are a full set of analog gauges set in a classically inspired dashboard panel. All the switches and their reset breakers are directly ahead of the captain as is a large compass. The Mercury SmartCraft control box is one of our favorites and in the Corsair 36, is ideally mounted. Ahead of that is the joystick for the bow thruster system to make docking manoeuvers easy and convenient.
Toward the centerline, Chris-Craft has integrated a Raymarine electronic navigation system and they’ve thoughtfully left a little extra dashboard room for accessories that an individual owner may want to mount. With the French-stitched trim and genuine teak wood accents, Chris-Craft has done a great job of integrating both traditional and modern design elements into a boat that is obviously built to be driven.
Opposite is the companion seat and again, it’s wide enough to accommodate 2 people and has the same rich upholstery. Chris-Craft has integrated stainless steel handholds right into the design of the seat plus there are grab bars on the interior sides as well. It looks great and it will certainly add to passenger comfort at high speeds. There’s a place to put your charts under a clear Plexiglas sheet. They have also integrated a set of stainless steel and teak steps into the bulkhead.
The handsome polished stainless steel windshield frame has a section that swings open and you can easily go up the steps to the deck forward.
The latest design thinking in larger power boats places an emphasis on above deck living accommodations. The Corsair 36 was built around offering a single level from the helm to the transom and swim platform, so that everyone is included in the party.
A great feature is that the Corsair 36 boasts a generous aft seating area with an electric table that will rise from the floor to cocktail height; and then with a push of a button, extends to full dining height. When not needed, it stows virtually undetected, electrically lowering into the floor.
In our test boat, lovely teak flooring was everywhere; great to look at and soft on bare feet. One glance tells you this is the real deal, not a synthetic.
Adding convenience for cockpit entertaining, there is a refreshment area on the port side that includes a refrigerator and sink while to starboard is an icemaker.
There is a Bimini top to keep you out of the sun and it stows effortlessly by the push of a button right into the engine compartment leaving a full clean interior area unencumbered by top bows and hardware. It’s a neat system. The entire stern area has an electric lift for top storage and engine access. All systems and plenty of storage too, are available at the push of a button.
Cabin access is through a sliding door that pockets away neatly with an attached screen to allow for bug-free ventilation. The galley is just to port and features an Isotherm refrigerator, microwave, two burner stove top under a cover and a stainless steel sink, also under a cover to maximize food prep space. The counters are an attractive new material called Aronite.
Three drawers and several lockers provide ample storage for glasses, cutlery, spices and provisions, especially considering that most owners will treat this as an elegant day boat.
In the forward vee area, there is an LG flatscreen television, convertible dining table and abundant storage in the side lockers. You could easily seat four to six around the table here and a new skylight runs the entire length of the forward deck to bring in maximum natural light.
The spacious private midship master sleeps two in comfort and we would guess that most owners will treat this as the master stateroom, leaving the vee area set up for dining although that space can convert into another double berth if guests are joining you.
To starboard is a private head featuring a grab bar, towel rack, teak grate floor in the shower area and an attractive white porcelain sink in the vanity top. A skylight brings in daylight while a well-located mirror facilitates make-up and shaving.
The test boat included a 7 kW Westerbeke gasoline generator to ensure an adequate supply of power at all times.
When it’s time to go, just fire up the twin MerCruiser 8.2L engines and head out. These are Mercury blocks built specifically to power big boats and with 430hp each, the Corsair 36 flies. Our test driver said the boat is fast and just beautiful to drive with precise handling, a soft ride even in ocean conditions and the construction felt rock-solid.
The Chris-Craft Corsair 36 would make a terrific downtown boat. Keep it at the yacht club and with little effort, you could fly out to the Toronto Islands in no time. The same thing applies if you were to dry-slip it in Georgian Bay.
Just meet your friends or family at the boat, load in your refreshments and make your getaway to your favourite anchorage in record time. For the right owners, this boat will be pure pleasure!
Test boat engines: Twin MerCruiser 8.2L HO V8 engines with 430 hp each, sequential fuel injection with Digital Throttle & Shift and Mercury SmartCraft systems, Bravo 3 sterndrives.
ENGINE RPM SPEED MPH
CRUISING SPEED rpm / mph
3,500 / 31.5 mph
LENGTH: 38’2” / 11.63 m
BEAM: 12’6” / 3.81 m
WEIGHT: 19,500 lbs / 8,845 kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 286 gal / 1,083 L
WATER CAPACITY: 50 gal / 189 L
WASTE CAPACITY: 27 gal / 102 L
PRICE, BASE: Heritage Edition $522,838 USD
Test boat provided by and price quoted by: Chris Craft, www.chriscraft.com
Performance data supplied by the factory.
By John Armstrong and Andy Adams