Powerboat News and Reviews

Powerboat News and Reviews from the RYA in this months Up to Speed - July 2009

Sports Boat Logo Now, as we all know, it would be rather unfair of the RYA to endorse or review bits of kit. Essentially, as governing body of the sport, that would simply enrage a lot of people.

What we can do, however, is draft in a real expert to do it for us and who better to give his opinions than Alex Smith, Editor of Sports Boat and Rib Magazine.

When it comes to reviews, Alex doesn't mess around and he lives and breathes the powerboating scene. Rumour has it that in the run up to this review he spends an entire week living in the engine room of a none too roomy sportsboat just to get him in the right fame of mind.

Currently suffering from sleep deprivation, bruising and cramp in the neck, here are his thoughts: 

Smith: Neck cramp

Regional rarities

Back in 2004, I remember being distinctly unimpressed when a man tried to wow me with a rusty bell at the Beaulieu Boat Jumble. It was a piece of tat with an exorbitant price and an entirely fictitious history.

But while I was dismissive of the item itself, I was delighted at the propensity of small shows to offer up charming oddities that I hadn’t considered before.

Well, this month there have been two outstanding regional events that have surprised and charmed in equal measure. The first is the South Wales Boat Show, which displayed a range of boats more peculiar and eclectic than any you are likely to see at a national event.

From the Australian-built aluminium Quintrex runabout to the Raptor race boats and the outboard-powered personal watercraft known as ‘Zego’ - none of it was quite what you would recognise as mainstream but it was all the kind of stuff that made you smile, simply by challenging your notions of what a powerboat was all about.

The second event was up on the River Bann in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, where the splendidly open-minded Riverfest saw the return of the region’s greatest watersports festival. With PWs, wakeboarding, barefooting and some delightfully retro skiing pyramids, it was a fine demonstration of what can be done when an inland waterways authority embraces the glorious pleasures of power.

If only the blunt-headed prohibition advocates at Windermere would pay attention to their excellent example.

Massive weapon

According to the Moscow Times, a new yacht, believed to have been built for Roman Abromovich, has hit the water. Rumoured to be 187 metres in length, this powerboat is a full 35 metres longer than the Type 45 destroyers currently in build for the Royal Navy.

Sources have revealed that the yacht, reputedly called Eclipse, cost more than 330 million US dollars and, although Blohn & Voss, who built the craft, have not yet formally identified its owner, plenty of other details have emerged.

The craft is said to be equipped with two helipads, a military grade ‘defence system’, bulletproof windows and a private ‘emergency escape’ submarine able to dive to 50 metres.

 Easily qualifying as the world’s largest private yacht, with 24 luxury suites on board and provision for a crew of 70, she represents the fifth craft in the extravagant oligarch’s fleet. Perhaps it’s time to shop for some mates to fill it . . .

Sense appeal 

But just in case you begin to imagine that powerboaters are all absorbed by the self-indulgent profligacy of one-upmanship, be assured that it’s not the case.

In fact, the new Yamarin 74 C is definitive proof that powerboating can be a thoroughly grown up undertaking. As the first and only of Yamarin’s 25 craft to use anything but outboard power, the 74 is treated to a relatively modest 165hp diesel unit.

Now, on a two-tonne boat that seats eight, sleeps four and shelters about a million, you might think that such limited power would be a bit dull - and you’d be right. But outright pace is not what this boat’s all about.

On the contrary, if it were a person, it would drink bitter and play chess. It would shake its head at garish trousers and send earnest letters to its local MP. It is an adult’s boat, an everyday boat - a boat that pursues efficacy above artifice.

It’s not a flash, leather jacket wearing wide boy of a boat. It’s not a wise-cracking one liner merchant with pretty eyes, firm buttocks and a traitorous smile. It’s much better than that. It’s husband material. Or should that be wife material? Either way, you get the point. It’s a shade under 70 grand and it buys you certified entry to a world in which powerboating makes sense.

Check out the full test in the new issue of Sports Boat and RIB magazine or visit www.yamarin.fi.

Magic Manoeuvres

The only thing tougher than actually spelling ‘manoeuvre’ is conducting one in a cross wind with a juicy tide running. So if you are among the great many who find launching and recovery of your boat the most difficult part of a day out, you will probably welcome a bit of assistance.

Cue the magical Floatem Poles. They are basically telescopic docking guides that extend as you enter the water, protecting and guiding your boat on and off the trailer, thereby minimising the impact of wind, wake and current. Round sleeves roll on the uprights as your boat passes, reducing the chance of damage. They fit most trailer and boat combinations and simply bolt on without the need for drilling or cutting.

Materials are very robust, with aluminium, ABS, polyethylene and Alochrom 1200 coatings offering plenty of strength and durability. But the fact of the matter is that they deserve to be bought just for the amusing name.

Well done the wags at Floatem Poles. A set can be yours for £160 - www.floatempoles.co.uk


Sometimes, however, despite good training, sensible precautions, the financially ruinous acquisition of equipment and the best efforts of the entire crew, a boat manoeuvre can go wrong.

So if you see a boat that appears to be struggling as it tries to come alongside, don’t be one of the smart arse voyeurs who likes to sit on his throne of smugness and delight at his own brilliance in not getting it so horribly wrong. Get off your backside and offer a hand. Power or sail, jet or prop, small or large, resist the temptation to chuckle and do what you can to help.

And while I’m on the matter of safe close-quarters manoeuvering I feel the need to exorcise a small bugbear of mine. You see, I have known plenty of people who lament the introduction of driver aids because they supposedly cripple the imperative to learn and destroy the satisfaction of doing it right unassisted.

These people think that manoeuvering aids like joystick control and bow thrusters are cheating. They think that efficient navigational aids like electronic charts and legible radar diminish our inclination to learn chartwork and cripple our ability to master seamanship.

To these pompous dinosaurs I merely say: “Sod off. Anything that makes boating safer and more attractive is a positive thing. You are about as valuable to the cause as a Luddite with chronic halitosis.”

The August issue of Sports Boat and RIB is out now. Pop to the shop and grab one or visit www.sportsboat.co.uk, where you can get a free subscription by signing up to the monthly newsletter. More from me next month . . .