ROBALO R227 REVIEW
In terms of style, comfort and sportiness, there has always been a sizeable gap between a luxury bowrider and a boots-and-all fishing machine. And for families looking for the best of both worlds, the boating life has usually been something of a compromise.
Many manufacturers have attempted the solve the dilemma, and some have come pretty damn close to getting it right, but US boating giant Robalo has taken line honours with its R227.
The Robalo theme is “Go beyond the horizon”, and the R227 invites you to do just that.
This is a boat that will see you and your mates take an early-morning fishing expedition to that distant offshore hot spot, come home with the kill tank full of fish, give the interior a quick clean to spruce up the fully-moulded liner, and load the family in for a great day of watersports and exploration. Come evening, its beautiful presentation will turn heads as you motor into the waterfront.
The R227 is a big, beamy dual console with loads of room inside, a full-bodied, deep vee and very efficient 21° hull underneath. Its user-friendly layout combines comfort, practicality and function. I know many old hat fishos that will scoff at the idea of an open bow on a fishing boat, but I say wake up and smell the roses — boat design has changed just as much as fishing methods.
A very capable offshore hull that also provides an excellent base for further individualised outfitting, I would be pleased to take a Robalo R227 to the continental shelf and back. The rear lounge folds down easily, providing a flat transom with plenty of deep freeboard and cockpit space.
The bow has an insert where you remove the cushions and the whole area becomes a solid casting platform. I can see sports fishos throwing slugs at tuna schools, bouncing coastal reefs, or trolling marlin out of this baby. It also doubles as a great snapper boat for drowning bait at anchor. There is a large anchor well to match; however, you will probably have to add a decent bow fitting, and perhaps an electric anchor winch.
I love the dropping sheerline of the R227’s hull. It works well in conjunction with a fine entry that broadens quickly via the large reverse chines running from bow to stern.
The combination fibreglass and plush upholstery in the helm seat probably isn’t as luxurious as its Chaparral sister ships, but this boat remains eminently comfortable, and very strong and practical. The seat is mounted to a fibreglass module that is a moulded part of the full floor liner. It also has a rear padded seat with huge icebox / storage capacity underneath.
The dashboard is strong and stylish with enough room for large instrumentation options. Our demo rig had a well-considered selection, including a Garmin 750S colour depth sounder / GPS / plotter. The stainless tilt steering wheel, flush-mount controls, footrest, seat slide, gauges and instruments are all very visible, and driving is made even easier with very little bow lift on take-off.
The foam-filled hull’s composite Kevlar construction means you can feel totally confident with construction strength and inherent safety.
The boat is as beamy as all get out and performs with the same solid, quiet ride of its Chaparral sisterships.
The big 250hp Honda four-stroke is an ideal choice for power, rocketing us along at up to 38.4kts (71.1kmh) on a boat that was still running-in the engine and had not propped to maximum efficiency.
These big Hondas are beautiful engines that not only generate terrific grunt, but are extremely quiet and smooth throughout the range. This is a 60°, 3.6L V6 engine with 24-valve single overhead cam design, with an all-new gear case. They also feature Honda’s VTEC technology for boosted power, torque and efficiency. And to top it off, these engines look great, too, with a slimline, almost jet-streamed cowling that Honda has dubbed the “Silver Bullet”.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for the dealer to get the propeller and engine height combination quite right, which meant we had some prop slippage in turns. The dealer later assured me, however, the original Solas three-blade 17in pitch has now been changed to a four-blade 15in pitch and it now runs at more than 34.75kts (64.3kmh) with very little aeration.
The R227’s transom has a full-width boarding platform and there’s plenty of staging area for some watersports, all while maintaining a reasonable distance from the engine to the cockpit for fishing without fouling the prop. The hull is extended all the way to the transom, giving it plenty of buoyancy, lots of lift and comforting stability. The transom also features a walkthrough rear door and a folding telescopic stainless steel ladder in its own enclosure.
Back in the cockpit, I am again compelled to emphasise just how wide this hull feels. It’s got tonnes of room to move and plenty of practical seating. You could sit three people in the rear lounge, one on the cushion behind the helm seat, and two more on the back-to-back passenger module.
Drop-down back-to-back seats may not be the most recent idea, but they are still a good one. I love the comfort of a nicely padded rear-facing seat while I am waiting for a bite or keeping an eye on the trolling pattern. The passenger seat drops down to form a sun lounge and the whole back-to-back module opens to reveal another cavernous storage unit.
Having a private toilet on a runabout / bowrider / dual console seals the deal for the boat as a family rig. The passenger console opens to reveal a reasonably large bathroom for a boat of this style. We had a vacu-flush toilet option on our demo boat, plus a small vanity module with pressurised freshwater in the cabinet. There are grab rails and cup holders in all the right places and a further ski / wakeboard locker under the floor.
The R227 has a big, wide walkway through to the bow area, with a strong wraparound windscreen with lightly tinted safety glass. The large and surprisingly comfortable bowrider section will easily seat five adults and the full chines and stem carry the weight safely. There are padded backrests and cushions all-round, with storage underneath.
HANDLING AND RIDE
The R227 may seem a simple boat, but its ergonomics are quite complex and most successful. Everything is a breeze to use and you can move around the boat easily and comfortably. The large internal volume is well optimised, with plenty of amenity and workspace.
Once up and running, the boat is an absolute dream to drive. It’s got offshore fishing capacity with sportboat nimbleness, as well as a lovely bow high attitude, yet you can still sit down and see clearly through the wraparound windscreen. There is also a bolster on the seat if you want to get a little higher.
Lift to the plane seems practically effortless, with very little noticeable transition. And if you’re worried about taking the boat into the rough stuff, you can simply clip on a decent canvas bow cover with stainless steel support frames to enclose the bow cavity.
Although the R227 wasn’t propped correctly on our visit, we still blasted out of the hole and onto the plane quickly. She just loves to travel at around 30kts (55.5kmh) at an efficient 4500rpm and we pulled a very accomplished 38.4kts (71.1kmh) at a leisurely 5600rpm, so she’s got plenty more to come.
The Australian agent for Robalo, Victoria’s Chaparral Boats, fitted a very sporty aluminium wake tower with four fishing rod holders on the side. It’s a great idea that matches the boat’s attitude and accentuates it lines. However, a fisho will likely order, or custom fit, more rod storage tubes and perhaps some work lights, outrigger mounts, etc.
The boat’s standard features include a stainless steel framed bimini, clip-in carpet on top of the fibreglass liner, freshwater washdown and 75L livewell.
The complete package, including tower, covers, two-tone colour scheme, hydraulic steering, toilet with holding tank, Garmin 750S and VHF radio, freshwater shower, digital gauges, snap-in carpet, aluminium trailer and the big 250hp Honda comes in at $100,000. That’s damn good value for a 6.55m boat with so many capabilities and function.
The hull is typically American with a width of 2.59m, which means wide load restrictions apply in Australia and you will need a reasonably large vehicle with a towing weight of around 2700kg.
Looking at other boats, you could certainly spend a lot more, and enjoy it a lot less.
I was recently quoted as saying that I had to stop taking my family on Chaparral boat tests because it was going to cost me plenty one day. Well, I think the Robalo R227 is just the boat to keep us all very happy, including my bank manager. I’d certainly own one.
ROBALO R227 PERFORMANCE
15.2kts (28.1kmh) @ 3000rpm
21kts (38.9kmh) @ 3500rpm
26kts (48.1kmh) @ 4000rpm
30kts (55.5kmh) @ 4500rpm
34.1kts (63.1kmh) @ 5000rpm
38.4kts (71.1kmh) @ 5800rpm
ON THE PLANE...
· Big open spaces
· Comfortable convertible seating
· Toilet compartment
· Folding rear lounge
· Storage and wet wells
DRAGGING THE CHAIN...
· No bow fitting
· Engine not correctly propped
ROBALO R227 SPECIFICATIONS
Price as tested: $99,999
Options fitted: Wakeboard tower; dual console; bow and cockpit covers; bimini; two-tone colours; electric hydraulic steering; vacu-flush toilet; Garmin 750S and VHF radio; freshwater shower; anchor; pop-up cleats; GMI 10 digital gauge pack; snap-in carpet; aluminium tandem trailer; 250hp Honda four-stroke engine
Priced from: $79,999
Type: Dual console
Weight: 2700 kg (wet)
Rec. HP: 225
Max. HP: 250
Make/model: Honda BF250
Type: Four-stroke, SOHC-VTEC 60° V6
Gear ratio: 2.00:1
Propeller: Solas three-blade 17in pitch (since changed to four-blade 15in pitch)
34 The Strand
Tel: (03) 9397 6977
Originally published in TrailerBoat #299, September 2013