In Brief

Bristol 24 Sail Plan The popular little Bristol 24, also called the Corsair in earlier times, is a safe and solidly built pocket cruiser from the 1960s. Hundreds were built in hand-laid fiberglass by Sailstar Boat Company and later Bristol Yachts in Rhode Island with a production run that spanned 17 years. This Paul Coble design, makes for a great little coastal cruiser, and with the right equipment can be made suitable for ocean voyaging.

As was the convention in 1960s designs, the hull is long ended, narrow, with a short waterline length. Under the waterline is a full keel with a forefoot cutaway drawing 3 feet 5 inches. With a weighty displacement of 6000 pounds she is well and truly a heavy displacement cruiser endowing her with motion comfort levels often seen in boats upwards of 28 feet in size.

Put together you can expect a boat that’s initially tender, lengthening her waterline as she heels, before stiffening dramatically at around 12 knots of wind. Although her large wetted area and lack of sail area has given her a reputation for being slower than similar boats of her vintage, namely the Pearson Ariel, Cape Dory 25, and 25D, the Bristol 24 generally sails better across a wider windspeed range. In heavy conditions she can be surprisingly quick as her the ultimate stiffness helps her hold onto canvas when other boats would be reefing.

Bristol 24 Layout Probably her best feature is her roominess with a five foot cockpit, two cabins, including a saloon blessed with six feet of headroom. The saloon arrangement came in two layouts. One that had a double berth to port which converted to a dinette and on the opposite side was a galley with a quarter berth further aft – this layout slept five in total. The second option had had settees either side and the galley further forward with the stove to port and sink and icebox to starboard. Both layouts had identical v-berths in the forepeak with the head located underneath. The interior trim was of satin-finished mahogany with a fiberglass headliner.

Most Bristol 24s were powered with an 8 or 9 horsepower outboard situated in a well. An inboard engine was an option, usually diesel, but some were powered with Atomic 4 gasoline engines.

Though the boat is technically trailerable, but don’t expect quick launches casual day sails as her 3′ 5″ draft does become cumbersome on the boat ramp and with a typical kitted out weight of over 8,000 pounds a sizeable towing vehicle will be required.


The Bristol 24 has its origins tied to a troubled boatbuilder located in West Warwick, Rhode Island called Sailstar. As the company entered receivership, the bank asked Clint Pearson of Pearson Yachts fame to come in and oversee operations.

Pearson had pioneered the art of production fiberglass boatbuilding by founding Pearson Yachts in his garage with his cousin in the 1950s, scaling the operation to hundreds of employees and eventually selling to Grumman Allied Industries in 1961. He was out for a new challenge in the yachting business and by 1964 he had purchased the failing Sailstar Boat Company.

At Sailstar, the Corsair, as the boat was called back then, was one of the very first boats that Pearson worked on. He called designer Paul Cable, asking for a twenty-four foot design to sleep four people. Cable tells a story of carving a half hull on the Johnstown ferry on the way to see Pearson. The boat was barely built in time for the 1964 New York Boat Show where it was a great hit. Priced originally at $4,000 dollars, 120 orders flooded in from the show.

By 1966 Pearson had changed the company name to Bristol Yachts, phasing out the Sailstar brand in favour of Bristol, and eventually relocated the company to new facilities in Bristol, Rhode Island.

The Bristol 24 remains one of the most popular models from Bristol with a production run of 726 before production ceased in 1983. Boats from 1975 onwards were sold under the Bristol brand.


LOA: 24′ 7″
LWL: 18′ 1″
Beam: 8′ 0″
Draft: 3′ 5″
Ballast: 3000 lbs.**
Displacement: 5920 lbs.
Sail Area: 296 sq. ft.

Headroom: 6′ 0″

Designer: Paul Coble
Builder: Bristol Yachts / Sailstar Boat Company
Year Introduced: 1966
Year Ended: 1983
Total Built: 726

Also Known As: Bristol Corsair, Sailstar Corsair, Sailstar 24

** The original brochure states 2000 lbs. which was a misprint

Buyers Notes

Build quality varies widely between models and vintage in ways that matter.

As originally designed the Corsair had lead ballast. In a cost savings move, Sailstar changed the ballast construction to lead-shot in concrete. After the company transitioned to Bristol, in a further cost savings move, the ballast changed to iron boiler punchings in concrete (while keeping lead-shot as an option). The iron to concrete ratio varies between boats as these proportions were mixed by eye without weighing resulting in some boats being more tender than others.

Common wisdom is that you can identify the ballast material by checking the bilges – owners report lead ballasted examples have a bilge twelve inches deep while concrete ones have a bilge that is up to the sole. Be aware this is not a reliable indicator of ballast material as some models have extra lead bringing the ballast to the floorboards.

Another area to check is the bulkhead construction. The original Corsairs had mahogany marine plywood. Later boats had formica over plywood, these boats can have rotted or delaminated bulkheads which are hidden by the formica. Some of the last boats went back to teak or mahogany faced ply as an option.

Similar Boats

Links, References and Further Reading

» Bristol 24 feature by Ted Brewer, Good Old Boat Magazine Mar-Apr 2003
» Bristol Owners Association, information and photos.
» Bristol 24 review by Rebecca J Casarez for Sailing Magazine, Jan 2012


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19 thoughts on “Bristol 24”

  1. Kurt an crystal says:

    We just bought a Bristol 24 and I guess this guy had no clue what he had she in almost in perfect condition and we only paid 1,400 for her with running motor taking her out this weekend to have a good sail and will post back on how she does

  2. Colby Fuerstneau says:

    My mother worked at Bristol Yachts and the boys in the yard built us a beautiful B24 in the 1970s, which my brothers and I sailed on Narragansett Bay while we were in high school. It was a great, sturdy boat. At 17 and 18 and a reasonably skilled but by no means expert skipper I ran into very challenging weather at times and the boat stood up like a champ. My younger brother took to racing and remembered the 24 as a “floating cooler,” which was ok. I remember it was a well-built, stiff sailing craft and loved it. I owned Catalinas later and could never get comfortable because the Bristol build was so far superior.

  3. Chuck Jones says:

    I still have my Bristol 24, Harmony, that I bought 0 years ago. It is a 1976 with the lead ballast and YSE 8 Diesel engine. I have sailed Harmony in all kinds of weather in fresh and salt water. I have successfully raced in PHRF and hare and hound races. The boat can sail better than expected in light air with enough sail up.

    I have taken Harmony down the Tennessee Tom Biggbee waterway, from Kentucky Lake to Mobile, and across the Gulf to Tampa singlehanded. I made a trailer for the boat and have launched and retrieved her many times from boat ramps.

    I use a 155 heavy duty Genoa for most wind speeds up to full whitecaps. The boat tracks and handles well in heavy seas if balanced properly. When I crossed the gulf, I encounterd 20 knot winds and waves that crashed into the cockpit a few times. The ride was wet, but I averaged 5.5 knots in 130 miles.

  4. Vincent Marano says:

    The price for that seaworthiness is speed. The 24 has a full, 3,000-pound keel with cutaway forefoot and attached rudder. That means more modern 24-footers will sail circles around it, even though they can’t handle the conditions the Bristol 24 can. from the bristol sailboats website

  5. Charles Moore says:

    I have owned PATTY, 1966 Sailstar Corsair sail #70, hail Annapolis, MD since 1989. Summers on Chesapeake Bay, ICW trips to FL ’90-91, ’96-97, ’98-99, 2000-01 and ’02-03. Cancer in 2004 limited my access/use, and open heart surgery in 2011 put an end to sailing for me, though every spring since then I have stubbornly gone through the motions, telling myself this is the year we will sail again. I have finally come to face reality, and would like to find a caring owner for her. She is currently slipped in Middle River, just above Baltimore, slip paid through the end of this year. Anyone interested in giving this old girl a good home?

    1. Darren says:

      How much are you wanting? Is a corsair with the lead ballast. It’s it a inboard?

    2. Michael T McGarry says:

      BRISTOL 24

      How much are you asking for your boat? Do you have any pictures? What layout does it have? Does it have a motor, inboard/outboard? How are the chainplates? How are the cockpit and deck, no soft spots in the cores?
      Thanks for your reply,
      Michael T McGarry

    3. John Carrigg says:

      What type engine did you have for your ICW trips?


    4. carleton scully says:

      Good day Charles Moore:
      I stumbled upon your advert and wanted to do a little (sharing). I am 78 and 5 years ago had to give up both of my Bristol 24s. And now, I decided that I’ve got to have one more go, and so, started the search for a B24 on the internet. My best wishes for you in the future.

    5. Chris Crilly says:

      Hi Carleton,
      I just stumbled across your notice on the Bluewaterboats site. I don’t know if you are still looking for a B24, but mine, 1976 #655 is for sale. You can see all the details at:

      Sailing Texas

      or Sailboatlistings
      Price is negociable

      Chris C.

  6. Don says:

    We have had our Bristol for 4 years and love it. We handled a really bad blow on the Chesapeake Bay 8 foot seas for almost 3 hours and the Bristol Cream came through for and with us. She is old, but solid and reliable.

    1. Lon says:

      Don… I owned Bristol Cream briefly from 1991 to the summer of 92, when a divorce made me give her up. I still mourn. I recall having to kedge her off of a mudbank in a cove south of Annapolis … and trips to St. Michaels banging along at 6 knots past the Bloody Point Light. If you have a snap shot, I’d love to see it.

  7. Bob Jones says:

    I sailed hull #252, based in Ashtabula, Ohio from 1978-1999. She was built in 1967, the nadir of the Sailstar days, with concrete ballast that was susceptible to water-filled voids that tended to freeze during winter & popped out the fiberglass in the forward part of the keel. We solved the problem by drilling a plug that we opened during haul-out. And, like Chris! we had a chain plate issue. She was rigged with two lower shrouds. We raced her & in her honor, our club established the “Gimlet Award, for those who never quit or win”.

    1. Brian Longval says:

      I have recently acquired a 1967 Bristol 24 (60th Birthday present) and came across your posting regarding the concrete keel with water/freezing issue. I believe my sailboat may experience the same this winter as the bilge filled several times this summer and I have yet to find the source. The boat is hauled out for winter and I have not seen evidence of ‘seepage’ out the hull. I would like to take the precautionary measure of avoiding the big freeze, and was hoping you could tell me how and where you positioned the plug. Also what type of plug you installed. Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

    2. Bob Jones says:

      Hi, Brian. The hole was drilled at the lowest point of the keel closest to the bow. We cradeled the boat stern high. The marina owner finely threaded a one inch hole & installed a bolt. It was watertight & saved a lot of fiberglass & gelcoat repairs.

    3. Brian Longval says:

      Just noticed your reply! Thanks I’m positioned slightly stern high and was planning on doing it this weekend. I appreciate your response.


  8. Cliff Unruh says:

    I greatly appreciate the addition of the Bristol 24 to your website and do believe this boat to be capable of ocean voyaging. We have owned our inboard-powered, lead ballasted Bristol 24 since 2000 and love her accommodations, sea-kindly shape, and comfortable motion when the going gets heavy.

    In addition to having the right equipment for ocean voyaging there are modifications that potential voyagers might wish to consider. For example, the cockpit of the Bristol 24 is huge,providing a wonderful place to lounge at anchor but a potentially gigantic “tub” should the boat ever take a serious breaking wave. Those venturing offshore should consider a temporary, if not permanent way, of reducing the cockpit volume and increasing the cockpit drainage. We are in the process of designing a removable, water-tight storage locker that will double as a bridge deck of sorts. This might prove to be a great place to store the life raft while voyaging.

    I greatly appreciate your drawing of the Bristol 24 but, like the boat, it too could use some modifications. The drawing shows the Bristol 24 with double lower shrouds. As produced during her entire production run, the Bristol 24 has single lowers. To compensate, later Bristols were given much heavier rigging (7/32″ on a 24′ boat) and mast extrusion (minimizing fore and aft pumping). Since the combing rails are wood adding the fiberglass winch island (with winch) and the fiberglass fairing forward would make this drawing highly representative of this fine boat.

  9. Robert says:

    I had great fun with one of these, but buyers should beware of the deck and cockpit both of which are cored. Mine had absorbed water into parts of the core, probably a problem applicable to many boats still being sailed after forty years. The repair involved removing the inner laminate and affected core, and then replacing it with new material.

    The boat was fine in light airs after the outboard was taken in. It sits in a well and can’t be kicked up. She sailed well enough single handed that even docking could be done without the motor.

  10. Chris says:

    As a Bristol 24 owner I have pondered on her suitability for offshore sailing. The conventional wisdom says ‘yes, but with certain modifications.’ Anyone want to weigh in with suggestions as to what those modifications should be. Anything more complicated than a beefed up standing rig, some longitudinal stringers? She sure is a tough little boat and stubbornly resistant to heeling much more than 20 deg. I must say a 100% jib doesn’t quite make it in anything under a 15knot wind. A dull, patched old 130% Genoa with a whisker pole has put a spring in her step in lighter air. The 5′ 11″ standing room is terrific, even if stowage space is in short supply. Of course, take it from someone who didn’t: check the chain plates. Then check them again.

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