Chris-Craft Corsair 32 Boat Review: Inner Beauty

The average boat review only goes skin deep, but when we got aboard the Chris-Craft 32 Corsair we looked deeper—and we liked what we saw.

24th March 2014.
By Lenny Rudow

I like being uber-productive, so I was psyched when Chris-Craft invited me to spend a day running a number of their models including the Launch 25, the Catalina 29, and the topic of today’s boat review, the Corsair 32. Any day spent running three different boats is, in my book, a day well spent.

chris-craft corsair 32 boat

The Chris-Craft Corsair 32 is obviously a work of art on the outside, but what lies beneath her skin?

The down-side to running multiple boats in a day is, of course that your time in each hull becomes limited. That makes it difficult to dig down deep below the surface. So I got started bright and early at zero-dark-thirty o’clock, ran the smaller boats first, and saved the biggest for last to ensure I could spend every minute possible peeling back the layers. And I’m glad I did—because when that which lies beneath was exposed, I found the real inner beauty of the Corasir 32.

The best example can be found just inside the cabin. Step inside, turn around, and pop the bilge access hatch just above the stairs. What you’ll see below deck level, where most boat shoppers won’t ever bother looking, is a clean finish and smooth surfaces. There are none of those bumpy, half-finished bulkheads rife with print-through; no rough or sharp edges; no exposed wood and no unsecured wires. That’s because Chris-craft finishes the entire inner-liner in smooth, silky gel coat. But don’t take my word for it—see for yourself.

Pop the engineroom hatch, and you’ll see the same kind of well-appointed interior. It’s closer to bastion than barn, even though the only ones living down there are the iron horses. And before you seal the engineroom back up (at the press of a button, no less) let’s look at a few more items that make the Corsair 32 beautiful beneath the skin. The Bimini top in enclosed by that hatch, so it’s always out of the way when not deployed. The down-side to this arrangement is that you have to raise and lower the hatch every time you want to use or stow the Bimini, but since all the work is done with your index finger and a button, this seem pretty minor league. And it is. Next, look at the acoustic insulation. It’s not there to please your eyes, but it will surely please your ears. Meanwhile, the automatic fire suppression system, tinned-copper wiring, and moisture-resistant Deutsch electrical connections will please your brain’s limbic system—the part that worries about survival and well-being.

Okay, close that hatch back down, and let’s shift our focus to your brain’s medial forebrain bundle, also known as the pleasure center. It’ll have plenty to feed on, while you’re on the Chris-Craft Corsair 32. For starters, take a seat. Any seat. They’re all wrapped with weather-resistant fabrics that are (cliché alert!) absolutely luxurious. But why sit, when you can recline? The twin J-shaped settees (which can be combined into a U with filler-cushions) are designed with angled forward backrests, which make them perfect for lounging in the sunshine.

corsair 32 seats

You want oodles of lounging space? The Corsair 32 has got it.

The cabin is another spot you might expect to relax in. As you enter it, note that the top hatch is on friction hinges so it stays in place and doesn’t swing up or down unexpectedly, but there’s no rubber bumper behind it so when you open it up all the way, fiberglass kisses fiberglass. Now duck through, and check out the belowdecks area. For what’s essentially a cuddy cabin on a relatively small boat, Chris-Craft fits a lot down there. There’s a full stand-up head to starboard, a galley to port, and a V-berth/dinette forward. Gobs of sunlight comes in via the three overhead sunroofs, and the finish of the wood throughout the cabin is (second cliché alert—sorry, but it’s true!) absolutely flawless.

chris-craft corsair 32 performance

The Chris-Craft Corsair 32 we tested had a pair of 380-hp Volvo-Penta V-8s, and when I threw down the throttles, it blasted past the 50-mph mark.

Here’s the really surprising thing about Chris-Crafts: their performance is regularly at the top of the class. Sure, you expect them to look pretty. Yes, you anticipate the luxury and comfort. But when you pop through the inlet and firewall the throttles, it’s always surprising that they act more like performance boats than runabouts or cruisers. Remember that Catalina 29 I mentioned earlier? It broke 50-mph and chewed through a nasty bay chop without thumps, bumps, or throwing spray. And the Launch 25? It also ran in the neighborhood of 50-mph, and that’s with 50 fewer horses than max power. So, how does the larger, heavier Corsair 32 perform? At wide-open throttle it hits 53.4 mph with a pair of 380-hp Volvo-Penta V-8s in the engineroom, and you can up the ante by another 100 horses if that’s not fast enough for your taste.

Specifications
Length 32’0″
Beam 10’2″
Draft 3’3″
Deadrise 22 degrees
Displacement 9,950 lbs
Fuel capacity 185 gal.
Water capacity 35 gal.

It was thoroughly breezy on test day, and running through the wind-whipped Sarasota Bay produced zero slamming, and zero spray. True, the waves never get very big in this bay, but they’re tightly-spaced and can still create a rattle-your-teeth-out chop. On this boat, it wasn’t an issue.

Performance Data
Test conditions: 1 foot chop, full fuel, no water, 3 POB. Performance figures provided courtesy of Volvo-Penta.
RPM MPH GPH MPG
1000 6.2 2.8 2.2
2000 10.5 7.3 1.4
3000 23.2 13.3 1.7
4000 34.6 21.7 1.6
5000 44.4 34.6 1.3
6160 53.4 55.7 1.0
Power: Twin Volvo-Penta 380-hp V8 gasoline stern drives, swinging FH-6 stainless-steel propsets.

Plenty of boats are built to look like a supermodel, but on most, the beauty falls away once you get beyond hullside gelcoat, sheerlines, and color-coordinated fabrics. Sure, they might look like a Caludia Schiffer tied to the dock, but out on the water they act more like an Amanda Knox. The Chris-Craft Corsair 32 is not that kind of boat—it has beauty running straight through to its core.

See Chris-Craft Corsair 32 listings.

For more information, visit Chris Craft.

 


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About the author:

Lenny Rudow

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Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including boats.com and YachtWorld. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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