- The handling of the long hull is sedate and relaxed – even at high speed the boat remains composed and precise.
- There was no evidence of the chine walking associated with the very early Cobras …
- The combination of the bolster seating and angled standing support works well.
- Naturally, the dash of a head-turning RIB needs to reflect its sporting prowess, and the new-type, wide console of the Cobra stands scrutiny in this department.
- For serious family fun and partying, the 9.5 offers noticeably more room than the more compact versions, even though they share the same beam.
Cobra 9.5 Twin-Rig F300
Simon Everett takes to the water to test this new sleek, sporty but family-orientated RIB from Cobra …
The modern Cobra, like the modern Mini or Fiat 500, resembles the original in name and profile alone. The new hull shape is infinitely better, being more efficient, more stable and altogether a better sea boat than the early versions. The curved rake to the forefoot and the ever-changing deadrise bevel, or warped deadrise, culminates in 23 degrees at the transom to provide a soft ride and predictable handling, even in adverse conditions. This is a very capable, performance-orientated RIB for the family boater.
There is enough tube on the bow to deflect spray and lift the bow out of a trough unless seriously mishandled, which is an important consideration for families with young children, for whom planted security is a big bonus. Even if the majority of your boating is done in comfortable conditions, it is good to know you have the extra capability beneath your feet to keep you and those precious to you not just safe, but dry too.
For serious family fun and partying, the 9.5 offers noticeably more room than the more compact versions, even though they share the same beam. That extra metre or so makes a world of difference to the stowage arrangements, with the new aft seat and sun deck hiding a veritable cavern of a compartment that will swallow all your extra baggage and loose gear tucked neatly out of the way, while mooring lines, if not made up and kept on the beautifully welded stainless steel A-frame, can keep the fenders company in the high-volume side lockers.
The Mediterranean styling influence comes through in the bimini cover and the picnic table, which form part of the overall package, together with an open seating plan, which again is more spacious thanks to the extra length on deck. This is one aspect where the Cobra scores highly over the wide-tubed Italian RIBs – as the name implies, it is sleek and sporty, rather than relying on the broad shoulders of an oversized collar that eats into the internal deck space. The seating has changed too but retains the recognisable sculptured aft seat that now benefits from the new moulding to accommodate it. A higher seat back provides more comfort and neck support and is better supported under the thighs to give passengers a more relaxing ride during a white-knuckle one thanks to those two V6 Yamahas bolted on the other side of the sun deck.
It isn’t just the aft seating that has had a facelift: the new twin-console arrangement with its back-to-back seating caters for social, domestic and leisure requirements. The moulding provides more storage, as on this boat, or can be fitted with a galley as an alternative option. An al fresco dining table sets up in the cockpit, under the folding bimini, and stows following the curved lines of the seat and sun deck side mouldings. The flow to the lines is maintained with the contoured bimini frame.
If it is sunshine you are after, the Cobra provides two areas to top up your tan. The aft sun deck is obvious, but less so is the way the entire forward cockpit converts into another temple to the sun gods. Owners will appreciate the way the cushions fasten into place and stay there, even at high speed. There is no soggy Velcro used here, nor corroding pop fasteners. Elastic toggles have been employed to ensure the infill and seat cushions do not flap about or blow overboard in the not inconsiderable airflow created. With over 50 knots on tap, having to go back to retrieve hats is one thing, but soaked cushions is quite another, and Cobra have thought long and hard about how to save that little embarrassment, to good effect.
Naturally, the dash of a head-turning RIB needs to reflect its sporting prowess, and the new-type, wide console of the Cobra stands scrutiny in this department. Always ready to listen to owner feedback, there is now enough width to comfortably sit two behind with room to move. The height of the screen keeps your eyes from watering and protects your favourite hat for 90 per cent of the time. Hydraulic steering makes driving possible with fingertip control, but is not overly sensitive, with five turns from lock to lock. I found it dead easy to slot into an unfamiliar berth with not much room to play with.
The wheel and throttle arrangement is well separated, but the twin throttle would be better as outward Ts rather than the stems being so far apart. At high speed, keeping them together with nothing to support your hand needs care. My fingers were stretched trying to reach both throttle stems at the same time, and the top of the ‘T’ is not the place to have so much power and response if driving through a rough sea or disturbed water. The new dash has the space to accommodate a 12″ MFD and all the ancillaries, including an iPlayer dock and a stereo, without crowding the VHF or Yamaha’s new digital gauges. It is a very smart layout with bags of room between each installation.
The combination of the bolster seating and angled standing support works well. The squab raises at an angle and offers long-passage comfort with plenty of legroom, thanks to the lower part of the console being cut back. I would have liked a footplate for when seated, but didn’t find one. It isn’t a difficult job to have one fitted and it is an option. On this boat the owner has specified an anchor and windlass, which are backed by a very smart, stainless anchor pad and foot-operated remote switches on the bow.
When you have 600hp on tap, control becomes paramount, especially with a speed of acceleration that takes you from 0 to 20 knots in under 4 seconds and from there to 30 knots in about another 2. And that was with the new three-bladed props, of the same pitch and diameter as the previous four-bladed design. It proves that there is still plenty of blade area to transfer the power to the water and give the immense hole shot that has you pinned back in the bolster. With the reduced drag, though, the top end has seen a gain of 1.2 knots and fuel consumption has benefited a tiny bit too. We were testing with full tanks, which is not inconsiderable at 800 litres, so imagine how she would take off with a light fuel load – you could lose half a tonne and still have enough fuel aboard for the afternoon!
The handling of the long hull is sedate and relaxed – even at high speed the boat remains composed and precise. There was no evidence of the chine walking associated with the very early Cobras – those of the 1990s – which is down to the revised hull with her slightly enlarged strakes. This has sharpened the handling no end. The test conditions were playful, with a rolling swell of about 1 metre riffled by a light breeze that created wavelets of about 50cm – just enough to free up the water under the keel and allow the brutish pair of Yamaha V6 300s to stretch their legs.
This particular boat was built for long-range family cruising with friends and so has the extra fuel capacity. The large tanks give a steady cruising range of 300 miles or a fast passage of 250 miles. This capability really expands the horizon and the owner has already done a passage from Palma to Port Mahon in just 4 hours, at an average of 40.2 knots, which is impressive for a people carrier with social niceties aboard and gives an indication of the capability of the Cobra. Having used that run as a benchmark, the owner now intends to explore far and wide around the Mediterranean from their base in Menorca. For instance, Portoscuso on the west coast of Sardinia and Algiers on the North African coast are well within range and have been added to the bucket list. Just think how far afield you could go!
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (L/hr combined)
600 3.2 4.8
1000 5.5 10.3
2000 10.1 26.4
2400 plane 12.6 35.8
3000 22.0 50.7
4000 36.8 103.7
5000 45.2 164.3
5500 50.2 188.3
- Excellent handling
- Well put together with good fittings
- Plenty of customisable options
From: £105,000 (inc. VAT)
As tested with twin Yamaha F300 and options: £
12 Priory Industrial Park
Dorset BH23 4HD
Telephone: 01202 612712