The popular little Bristol 24, sometimes called the Bristol Corsair, 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, with the right equipment, is perfectly suited to 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. It embodies a total of 3000 pounds of ballast which accounts for half of the Bristol 24s displacement. So at 6000 pounds of total displacement 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. Her large wetted area and lack of sail area has given her a reputation for being quite slow in light winds. However in heavy conditions she can be surprisingly quick as her high ballast ratio gives her the ultimate stiffness needed to hold onto her canvas while other boats would be reefing.
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 to easily launch her for a casual day sail as her 3′ 5″ draft is not so conducive to quick launches from the boat ramp. And with a typical kitted out weight of over 8,000 pounds a sizable towing vehicle will be required to pull her on the road.
The Bristol 24 has its origins in a troubled boatbuilder called Sailstar, located in West Warwick, Rhode Island. In 1964 Sailstar was purchased by Clint Pearson who was famous for pioneering the art of production fiberglass boatbuilding by founding Pearson Yachts in his garage with his cousin in the 1950s. Pearson Yachts had become a whirlwind success expanding to hundreds of employees, along with the rapid growth came cashflow issues which was solved by selling equity to Grumman Allied Industries in 1961. By 1964 Clint Pearson was needing a new job and a new challenge.
At Sailstar, the 24 was one of the very first boats that Clint Pearson worked on, it was a Paul Coble design that was introduced in 1964 under the Sailstar brand. 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 Corsair name.
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
Year Introduced: 1966
Year Ended: 1983
Total Built: 726
Also Known As: Bristol Corsair, Sailstar 24
Links, References, and Further Reading
» Bristol 24 feature by Ted Brewer, Good Old Boat Magazine Mar-Apr 2003
» Bristol Owners Association, information and photos.