The way the Senator behaves gives the impression it would be completely unflappable – easily capable of handling whatever long-range offshore adventures Dan has in mind.
- High quality fitout
- Brisk performance with 300hp Mercury
- Fun factor is high
- Stylish and luxurious
- Sharp looks
- Family oriented
Bowriders used to be the sort of thing you saw in glossy boating magazines. With owners wearing white linen shirts cruising the Florida beachfront – looking like models in a shampoo commercial. They were the epitome of the American luxury day boat, and like the Wella Woman, they had a certain Hollywood mystique.
If you take the idea of the American bowrider, discard the white linen and shampoo, add some Kiwi practicality to it and put a hull under it that will get you home when it’s blowing 40 bastards from the southwest, you are on to something quite unique.
The new Rae Line 205 is just that. A convertible-Mustang-of-the-seas look about her lines, she has the hood-down style, a throaty roar and an elegant ride to prove it. In a market flooded with facsimiles, the 205 is a refreshing departure from the norm and a great step up from the already well-loved Rae Line range.
As is so often the case, good design results from finding something that works and building from it. The new 205 has been three years in the making and her heritage originated in the form of the 190-cuddy cabin hull, which had an impressive reputation for being stable, fast and soft-riding.
The 190’s hull was remoulded without planing stakes and a new transom added with some clever splicing. Foam was pumped into the upper sections of the hull to create a new shearline and deck – incorporating a number of new features as well.
This not only provided more freeboard but also enabled a more modern, high-hipped reverse sheer into the boat’s deck line. The structure is contained in a fully foam-filled floor liner with stringers and bow bulkhead. The result is a strong, dry hull with plenty of curves to catch the eye.
Moulds were taken off the prototype and, motivated by an existing customer who wanted to move to a bigger boat, the first production 205 rolled off the line just before Christmas.
Like the hull, the Rae Line 205’s layout has benefitted from some smart thinking. In the style of an American bowrider, this is a dual-console boat with forward seating and a large cockpit – she’s also one of the roomiest 20-footers around.
Starting at the bow, there’s a full anchor locker, with bow roller and optional windlass. The wide forward bow area has cushioned U-shaped seating with plenty of space for lounging. Mountains of storage below accommodate the clutter that comes with a family day out on the water.
Further aft is a large underfloor locker for skis, rods and naughty children. The walk-through between the dual consoles is accessed by a hinged windscreen and when bow-riding is not an option the whole forward cockpit can be covered with a domed canvas and zip arrangement.
The starboard-helm console is well laid out with great access to the dash electronics, equipment switches and controls, and visibility through the curved glass windscreen is great. There’s also a storage area under the console accessed from the inside bow walkthrough.
Swivelling helm and co-pilot chairs allow their occupants to turn to an optional teak cockpit table for al fresco dining. Above it all is a sturdy bimini top providing relief from the fierce New Zealand sun. Below the floor is the 175-litre fuel tank.
The large aft cockpit is elegantly trimmed in Ultralon U-Dek and contains one of the boldest features of the boat – a large bench seat/lounger that reminds me of the best traditions of big American cars. Beneath it is a large storage area and in the starboard corner, a wet locker.
Capping off the luxurious fit-out is a walk-through transom door with access to the swim platform and boarding ladder. Hanging off the back is the throaty 250hp Mercury Pro XS V8, spinning a 14x19P stainless steel prop.
On the Water
With a Monday afternoon to ourselves, we had plenty of room on the boat ramp to explore the Rae Line 205. First impressions are solidness and size. She’s most definitely a much larger boat than her 20ft length would suggest, with clever engineering and design hidden in her striking lines. Every conceivable space has been used to enhance the experience onboard – and the detail is immaculate.
Some boats look good from the outside – some are good to be on. The 205 is that rare collision of both. Very sure-footed on the water. Her wake and trim suggest an easy, slippery hull, while her V8 sounded like a Mustang as she buzzed past our photo boat (that’s the P-51 Mustang, not the Ford!).
Behind the wheel, she’s all pleasure. Her deep-vee, full bow sections and the well-positioned chines offer a two-stage dampening to any chop. The vee of the bow breaks the initial force of the wave and the chines offer an additional cushioning effect.
The chines also came in handy for some tight manoeuvring and their full length and placement in sync with the near-vertical side panels give a noticeable ‘bite’ to the hull during cornering. A reassuring sensation that the hull wouldn’t let go under the grip of the big Mercury.
With that V8 on the back she has more squirt than a fire hose. Acceleration borders on frightening for this sailor and it forces you back into the plushly-upholstered seat. There’s plenty more on tap to meet any need for speed.
In the flat water of Charteris Bay she skated around in style with minimal wake. During a short sprint towards Lyttelton we encountered some harbour slop, but the weight and the high freeboard kept the ride dry and the hull soaked up all the bumps.
At a decent height the windscreen diverts much of the blast. At a comfortable 26-knot cruise speed (around 3,800rpm) fuel consumption is 40 litres per hour. Top speed is around 50 knots for those of heavy hand and steely nerve.
With her American styling and Kiwi practicality, the Rae Line 205 has the tweakability of a ski boat, the room of an aircraft carrier, the style of a shampoo commercial and the deep-water pedigree to get you home./>