The 6.5m class of RIB is probably the most versatile-sized RIB, and its ability to fulfil so many different functions, coupled with its winning combination of sea capability and ease of handling, also make it the most popular size, with most builders offering something in this class

Cobra have been building a solid reputation with their 755 for many years, and now they have produced a baby sister to expand the range. The new model is a 660, and despite being the smallest boat they currently build, she by no means lacks in facilities.

We had the chance to go on the new boat on her first day on the water. When a boat is given her first sea trials you normally expect something to throw a wobbly: either the propeller sizing isn’t quite right or something decides not to play on the electronics’ side. The Cobra 660 was right, though, straight out of the box so to speak, and nothing misbehaved or went on strike. Even the choice of prop, normally an inspired guess based on the weight of the boat and the power of the engine, seemed to be spot on.

The 660 is a pretty boat; the basis of the craft has been inspired by her bigger sister, with the same seating and console used in both. The hull is the same beam with a shorter waterline length, achieved by bringing the transom forward. To complement the beam the tubes have been tapered towards the bow. This has successfully avoided creating a blocky-looking boat, because she is beamy for her size. The use of the bigger boat’s beam and layout makes the 660 just as easy to move about on; the only loss is a couple of feet off the engine well and a slightly shorter bow area. This is no detriment, and the new boat shares the stability and seakeeping of her older sister.

By using the same seat and console mouldings of the 755 there is an advantage of modular construction keeping tooling costs to a minimum, but for the consumer there is also an advantage in that you have the stowage and seating of the bigger boat, with storage lockers in the back of the console. The usual stowage is under the stern seats which, rather than being a flat bench, are partial bolsters with each seat being shaped for comfort and support. There is a forward-facing jump seat in the console and seat cushions set around the bow. The entire bow area can be turned into a sunbed with an infill support and cushion. In their usual wisdom Cobra have used stainless-steel pop-up cleats, with rubber handle cleats on the tubes. The 660 is likely to appeal as a tender for the smaller end of the superyacht spectrum, and she is certainly striking enough to fit that niche.

The style of the 660 is very striking, her bold colours accentuating her lines and emphasising her sportiness. She looks the part and can hold an audience in company. We discovered this in the Lymington Yacht Haven, with many an admiring glance being thrown in her direction. The hint of colour is just enough to lift her from the mundane blue and white that is so prevalent. Her poise, with the Yamaha 150 on the transom, is right too. She sits with the after end of her tubes on the water, from the cones through to just aft of the helm seat. From there they gently lift to the bow, creating an elegant line and providing the support they are there for. The large tube diameter stainless-steel ‘A’ frame, with its gracefully raked angle, completes the visual aesthetics. She really does look smart, and for many that is the effect they want from their boat from the outset. Cobra have always had this effect; much like a luxury car, they might not be the fastest but they have that same presence, and when they are opened up they can raise a few eyebrows.

Taking the boat out on the water, not as a full-blown test but as an initial opportunity to try her on her first sea trials, showed her to have a very refined and stable ride. This is what you would expect from a beamy RIB with well-set tubes, especially one having a hull of proven pedigree. The hull remained settled as we crested across some building chop, and the aft seats remained totally dry too. She was firmly planted on the water and the tubes did their job of supporting the boat in turns. Everything is as it should be. The tapered tubes at the front reduce the effect the wind has of getting under the bow, but they are sufficient to ensure spray is well managed and kept low.

This was the boat’s first time on the water, so the engine had only racked up about three hours by the time I got to have a go. With a brand-new engine we had to be circumspect; even though Yamaha bench run their motors before sending them out, treating them gently for the first 20 hours is a very good idea. As such, we were limited as to the full power use of the engine, but in a quick burst we did manage to squeeze 46.2 knots out of her, with three up. This is more than respectable from 150hp and shows what might be available with a bit of tweaking should anyone desire it. Somehow I think that the kind of person who buys a Cobra will be more than happy with that, and will be more interested in the economic cruising speed of over 35 knots.

Her handling was sure-footed and precise. The Yamaha motor has the punch to lift her quickly onto the plane and sufficient torque to pull her back up out of turns. Helming was a relaxed affair because the boat is so planted there is none of the flightiness that can be associated with very-quick-to-helm boats. As she recovers from a heel the boat remains steady without overhelming and falling off the other side. Some might say this is indicative of a boat that is slow to react, but she isn’t; she turns in happily and recovers steadily without falling off the keel the other side. For a family leisure boat this is a desirable asset and one which will instil confidence in its safety. The last thing you want is a boat that suddenly flips the other way as it recovers from heeling into a turn, and throws people off balance.

I think the timing of the launch of the Cobra 660 is opportune, as in the current economic climate people won’t want to give up boating but they might reconsider the size of boat they can afford. The 660 offers many of the attributes of a bigger boat but in a slightly smaller package and with a smaller price tag, putting the boat into more people’s budget range. Much of this saving is from the fact that the smaller boat works just fine on a single engine, whereas the traditional rig on the 755 has been for twin engines. As we showed in our trial, having one mid-sized engine doesn’t result in much of a reduction in speed and, on a boat like this, the argument for more horsepower to maintain that speed when carrying a heavy load doesn’t come into it; she is not that sort of a boat.

Simon Everett

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