Second-hand test

Corneel 26 A cat for pure pleasure!

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Corneel. The name has a nice ring to it, but where does it come from? It’s a combination of Bruneel - yes, Eric Bruneel of Neel trimarans fame - and Cornic. In the early 1980s, the two men launched a sports cat, the Corneel 18. This first boat went well. They approached Fountaine Pajot to build the boat. They would finance the tooling themselves. Back then, the yard was building dinghies, racing monohulls and was just starting out in multihulls, with the Louisiane. It was an immediate success: a hundred 18s were sold. It came at a particularly good time for Eric, who had had the idea in the back of his mind for a long time: “I wanted to build a day-boat catamaran which was lively and fun. With Jean-François Fountaine and Michel Joubert, we had focused on a very rounded look with rocket-shaped coachroofs, and mast sections for the beams holding the hulls together”. Launched at the La Rochelle Boat Show in 1985, at a price of 160,000 French Francs, including tax (around €42,000 in today’s money), the Corneel 26 was rewarded the following year with the title “Boat of the Year”. “We were building one a week!” laughs Eric. This was a catamaran which charmed its crew right from the word go: to start with, it was very basic - all the fittings were at the foot of the mast, and there was no boom. No daggerboards either: “Certainly not!” exclaimed the designer, “The top of the skegs, which formed the floors, was stratified while the internal volume was in foam. This lends itself to taking the ground, and is resistant to breakage. And it has remained the same for the Neel 45.” The Corneel 26 can also be dismantled - a great idea, but not so easy in practice, warns Jean-Marc Le Goueff from Multisailing. A fiddly operation as part of winterizing, but one which could be done if you were buying one a long way from your home waters.

Second-hand test Corneel 26

Very fine hulls set the tone: speed is the priority! As for comfort… we’ll see later

A jet-fighter

Hoist the main… and you’re off! The Corneel 26 slips through the water with ease, quickly getting up to 15 knots in light winds, raising the windward hull, if not flying it completely. Builds that feature vacuum-glued sandwich with woven-roving cloth, offering a rigidity and minimal weight ( less than one tonne ) are no strangers to such spirited behavior… Everyone who knows this boat is of the same opinion: the 26 sails at ease on one hull. Long runs with averages of more than 18 knots are not unusual. But don’t let yourself get carried away… a few Corneels have been known to capsize. This pure adrenaline sailing can only be done with your hand on the mainsheet. A tip which is even more relevant to the Sport version. With its wing-mast and an extra 8m² of sail area, the 26 really becomes very sporty. The feeling on board is similar to that of a Kat 28… The proof can be seen with the following figures, achieved in 20 knots of wind: 7.5 knots of ...

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