Nha Trang, Vietnam has been rightly claimed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and a wonderful sailing playground. Especially so in February, when there is almost a guarantee for no rain and reliable NE winds. It was the perfect location to hand over our latest launched Seawind 1160 Lite to an Australian customer and to test sail the incredibly exciting new model for Corsair, the Pulse 600.
Awaiting us as we arrived to Nha Trang, the just launched Pulse 600 - looking amazing on the water - was crying out to us to be sailed. In the late afternoon on the first day, we had perfect sunshine and the winds still at 16 to 20 knots and gusting higher occasionally. Zam (the Production Manager for Corsair Marine), Kerry (my partner), and myself took it out for a short test spin before our photo shoot the following day.
The Seawind 1160 Lite delivery was a bit of a tough one, but once it was in the water we had a great shakedown test of this 38ft offshore cruiser. 300 miles of hard windward sailing in 20 to 25 knots and a lumpy sea is a good test for any boat, let alone a boat just two days out the factory. The Seawind 1160 Lite was a joy to sail and a pleasure to present to its new owner who intends to explore the local area before heading off to Thailand.
I was totally blown away by the new Pulse 600. Both Kerry and I are agree - we want one! This boat is awesome and will be a great addition to the already terrific Corsair trimaran lineup. As we left the sheltered beach & got into some wind, the first impression was how lively and responsive it was; it was effortless to sail. With an estimated 15 to 20 knots windspeed, the boat was incredibly exciting, but easy to control. Going upwind, the high volume leeward float never looked like burying or creating excessive drag. In the short, sharp chop, the thin bows sliced through with the minimum of fuss and amazingly little water spray. In fact, on all points of sail, I was delighted how dry the boat was.
Bearing away onto a broad reach in 20 knots is always a nervous task for any multihull sailor. Again, the high volume floats and powerful bows made it seem easy and the precaution of having the mainsheet and jib uncleated and ready to throw were not needed.
Regrettably, this exciting sail on day one in perfect testing conditions was not captured on film. The following day, we had planned an armada of vessels (a Seawind 1160, a Seawind 1050 Resort and a Sprint 750) to support the professional film crew to capture the excitement of this new model. It was just our luck that the following few days were a huge disappointment weatherwise: overcast and cloudy with light winds at best. The Pulse crew did their best to create some action shots, but if it’s not happening, it’s not happening. C’est la vie.
We were able to gain enough experience on the Pulse 600 during this trip and learned enough about how the boat sails to know the tweaks and changes we wanted to make and to be confident that we can launch this new model, certain that it will delight even the toughest critic.
Some of my experiences and Pulse 600 features that I think worth sharing are:
Simplicity: This is a very easy boat to sail, but with the potential for as much excitement as most people can handle. Even powered up in 18 knots, it was easy to depower and slow down – an essential feature for family and recreational sailing. The mainsheet had adequate purchase even in these strong conditions and the traveller track easy to adjust. The single line jib sheet was excellent, keeping the cockpit uncluttered.
Steering: The dagger board and dagger rudder worked well with the boat, making it feel perfectly balanced on all points of sale. There was little weather helm and virtually no effort to steer.
Cockpit : The cockpit is huge and very comfortable. Regrettably, the prototype didn’t have a tiller extension fitted, so we sailed from within the cockpit. Even in these conditions, it was 100% dry with virtually no spray coming off the hull or floats. The dagger board, in its down position, is completely flush with the cockpit sole, something that will be appreciated with family sailing. On our test run, we had three adults in the cockpit and could have had many more without getting in each other’s way. I think it will make a great training sailboat!
High Volume Floats: I think people will love the floats. At high speed, they gave a feeling of complete confidence on all points of sail. It would have to be a very wild day and a reckless crew to bury these bows.
Tacking: This was an area where I was most concerned. I had some concern about the relatively flat hull and float shapes, but in both flat and choppy waters through a wide range, the Pulse tacked as easily and as sweetly as anyone could wish. Pleasant surprise!
Light wind performance: This was not something I was able to experience on our sail, although in the protected launch area the Pulse moved easily and felt lively. To increase light wind performance however, we have decided to increase the dihedral angle slightly to decrease wetted surface area in very light conditions.
Sails: The sails on the test boat were high-end racing sails. At times, I was concerned we were overpowered but I think this was partly my tentativeness sailing the boat for the first time and being unsure of just how hard it could be pushed. Certainly, in the 15 to 20 knot wind range we sailed in, I didn’t feel the boat was underpowered. After getting to know the boat more in time, I think the sail areas will be just about perfect.
Cabin top: The small cabin, created by the demountable top, creates a great space that will be well appreciated by both racing and cruising owners. On our test run, it proved completely dry although that was not fully tested because there was little to no spray coming off the bows or floats during this first test run. It offers a great space for storage for a large amount of gear or for tired kids to sleep in. In the forward area, there is a large flush mount deck hatch opening into a waterproof storage area in the hull, ideal for day sailing. The removable washboards seal it up and offer a nice backrest for someone sitting in the cockpit and also keep you protected from the wind.
Bowsprit: The boat was initially designed without a bowsprit for reasons of simplicity and economy, and it was in this form that I sailed the boat. Regardless, on my sail, the conditions were too strong for us to fly a screecher. However, in the lighter winds of the previous day Zam did and agreed with many of the Corsair Dealers who believed a bowsprit would assist in downwind screecher handling. I agree with this and so a bowsprit will be standard for the One Design class.
Folding system: Prior to launching the boat in Nha Trang, we had already decided to replace the originally designed soft strut folding system with our tried and tested solid bar Corsair folding system. Although the soft strut was light and worked adequately with 2 or 3 persons involved in the process, it was decided that this system was not suitable for our cruising family owners. I am pleased with this decision as the Pulse will now be easy and convenient to fold both on and off the water.
All in all, I could not be more delighted with this new model. It did everything we hoped it would do and more. I can’t wait to sail it again and explore its true capabilities… I suspect we only scratched the surface in this regard.
People reading this rather glowing report might be somewhat skeptical, that’s fine. Hopefully, within the next month or two we will have entirely independent sailors to thoroughly test the boat. I feel very confident that you will come to the same conclusions as me, when you test sail the new Pulse 600!
Here are the development updates so far...