French manufacturer Astus is making some waves this week with the introduction of their latest model – the Astus 16.5 at the Dusseldorf Boat Show. Designed by the trimaran gurus at VPLP, the 16.5 promises sprightly performance at a reasonable cost – approximately $16000 USD for a sailaway package.
Astus has had some success with their 24 foot model, and now have the muscle to contract VPLP for the 16.5 design. Like all Astus boats, she incorporates robust telescoping floats for portability.
Four boats in this niche – The Astus 16.5, Weta, Corsair Pulse 600 and the Sea Rail 19 – have our attention. How to decide?
Numbers in the chart below are approximate, were not taken from an actual boat and are derived from manufacturers websites. In addition, the price for a Corsair Pulse 600 is estimated from discussions we’ve had with dealers – no published price was available. Also, we could have included the Astus 18.2, but we didnt feel the design of that boat is to the standard of VPLP and the other boats in our selection.
|Astus 16.5||Weta||Pulse||Sea Rail|
|SA (sq ft, main and jib||182||123||281||259|
The Weta is the obvious choice for most smiles per dollar. With over 1000 boats sold, you can’t argue with Weta’s success. But while promising huge grins all around, she probably won’t take you raiding out to the islands. She hasnt much payload and not even the rudimentary cuddy of the other models. Still she is fun, smoking fast and has the best price of the group.
The Astus 16.5 comes a close second to the Weta in fun/dollar spent – not surprising considering her VPLP pedigree. In fact of the four boats the 16.5 is probably the logical choice for a small pocket cruiser. Lighter and a bit shorter than the Pulse or SeaRail she promises quick performance and easy set up while maintaining some payload capacity and a small cuddy to stow your gear. And you cant beat the price!
The SeaRail has a simple and innovative socket-style arm and folding mechanism and was designed by none other than Nigel Irens – fair enough. She is a sporty design, a bit better than the Astus, and easily as the Pulse. She also has room for payload and a small cuddy for gear. I really like the SeaRail, she’s a pretty little thing, moves well thru the water and is capable of taking you out to that island. But her 28K price tag is bit steep for what you get.
The Pulse 600 is a fast, spirited boat by all accounts. She is the biggest of the four, yet remains easy to set up and sail away. Some good work has been done by Corsair to maintain her foldability and ease of set up. She can carry the most payload, has the largest sail area and will be the most comfortable of the group. Her latching cowl cuddy is a pretty cool design feature. Her folding mechanism is based on other Corsairs, but is sized much, much smaller. The other three models chose a telescoping or socket style beam attachment while the Pulse kept a folding mechanism. It remains to be seen if this light weight version of the ubiquitous folding device will be robust enough. This, plus her price (almost 4x a Weta) puts her at the bottom of the list.
So, there you have it. Four small trailerable trimarans – two are brand new designs (Pulse and Astus) while the SeaRail and Weta have been around for a couple of years. Each boat is easy to trailer and set up – assembling a Weta will take you a bit longer than unfolding the other three. But, if you are after flat out dinghy style fun the little Weta is mighty hard to beat. If you are looking for a budget pocket cruiser with good performance and easy set up – the Astus 16.5 certainly deserves your attention. The SeaRail and Pulse are excellent performers, from innovative and talented firms, handicapped by price.
None of these boats will knock the Weta off the beach trimaran podium. Still, Astus forecasts sails of 50 boats per year for the 16.5. Will that impact SeaRail and Corsair sales? Is there market enough for all four of these boats?
Video presentations of each of the four are below. Happy hunting!