- The Cormate is a great boat, there’s absolutely no arguing that.
- You can’t fail to be impressed with its performance.
- It’s impressively quick, takes the waves well and is finished to a level that only the Scandinavians seem to be masters of.
- But there’s no ignoring that pound-shaped elephant in the room.
Having spotted the Cormate at the 2016 London Boat Show and instantly fallen in love with it, Greg Goulding couldn’t resist getting on board and testing it to the full. He reports on his findings here …
The 24ft mark is a tough one to crack for any boatbuilder. At that size, you can either go for the weekender style, opting for a comfortable cruiser with accommodation for a small family, or something that gets the adrenaline pumping but is perhaps lacking some basic necessities for anything more than a day afloat.
It’s an obvious target to produce something in between, offering performance and style, as well as a bit of luxury. Most boats tend to flop at this, not being particularly good at either. But Cormate look like they could be on to something with their striking 24, and it only gets better when you look at the numbers. Get serious with the options list and you can have a 6.2L 350hp V8 that pushes the teak-decked beauty to just shy of 60 knots. It’s certainly closer to a performance boat than the cruiser end of the scale, but that’s no surprise, with the company director originally founding Hydrolift, the company that makes scary 70-knot machines.
The Cormate range isn’t new. In fact, the 24 and 27 swept up awards in their Norwegian home back in 2006. But with the recession hitting the marine market, it’s only of late that expensive Scandinavian boat brands have become more acceptable.
On The Water
Cruising out through Poole Harbour, the 24 looks great. Our test model was finished with ivory topsides, sand leather and all framed with teak gunwales. It just oozed class effortlessly. It’s as much at home in Poole as it would be in any destination of the rich and famous around the world. If ivory isn’t for you, then there is a choice of six colours, although all are pastel shades, and even the seven leather tones are all picked to match.
Our particular boat was the Cormate 24 Sportmate Supermarine, which, while not only a mouthful, adds £15,000 to the price, and there are still a number of expensive options to be added. This particular spring morning gave one of the best boating days you could hope for – it was crisp and clear and the seas were calm. It was still only 7∞C, but that windscreen lip keeps all draught at bay, even at 40 knots. It’s a similar story further aft when sitting on the bench seats – that RIB-like high console and tall topsides offer lots of protection, creating a safe environment.
But it’s that performance that really impresses. Even with the smaller 4.5L 250hp petrol it was reaching 45 knots, and no doubt it’ll hit its top speed of 48 with a bit of trim tweaking. The single outdrive leg is paired with a single trim tab that can be adjusted to counteract the thrust. Despite being fitted with racing throttles, it’s no more complicated to use than any outboard-powered RIB. It sits at 20-odd knots nicely, feeling like a slow but steady cruise, which is just as well as that 4.5L (or 6.2L if you’re brave) will require ownership of an oilfield if you like to cruise much faster.
As already mentioned, Cormate’s dedication to speed comes from the designer and founder, Egil Ranvig. In 1985, he started Hydro-Design and created a range of race boats that won trophies worldwide. But Egil sold up and moved towards building comfortable boats that carried on the racing pedigree. And that’s where the Cormate range comes in. It’s more four-door Aston Martin than tuned BMW estate, so it doesn’t feel like adding the small cabin has ruined it in anyway.
Because the test day was mostly calm, as we were using the photo boat we made some waves to be able to push it further. The hull didn’t absorb them, but took them in its stride. Some boats hate hitting waves, rattling around and banging on impact, but the Cormate made you want more. This is a boat that is going to be tremendous fun when everyone else is sheltering in the marina. The only problem is that you’ll forever be looking for a large wake to try and get it airborne, daring to go faster each time.
When there are no breakers or 50ft cruisers to play with, it eats miles like no other. The transom feels buried in the water even when in the mid 40s, and there’s absolutely no fidgeting from crossing waves. Be it a gentle cruise or flat out, you feel confident that you can push it into a turn without worrying about how it’ll handle. Somehow Egil has designed a hull that performs close to one that is stepped, but without the attitude that often comes with it.
Passengers will enjoy the ride too, with various seating areas to enjoy. The bow is upholstered as a sun pad, and there is a double seat backing up to the helm’s seat, which is perfect for keeping watch when towing a skier or inflatable toy. There’s another seat aft, facing forward. That seat’s backrest slides over on a clever hinge to create another sun pad. The one let-down is that there does seem to be a lack of handrails for the passengers. The helmsman has a great grab rail that follows the windscreen, and up front there’s a rail along the gunwale, but anything further is limited, especially since the seats lack any sides, so sliding off could be a real danger.
Forward of the console is a small door that lifts up on hydraulic rams, concealing a small cabin. Inside there’s little room to do more than use the fitted marine toilet, but it does offer some great storage areas. Boats like these are often used for water sports, and large inflatables, skis and the accessories that go with them are usually difficult to store on board, but the large access hatch and space below are perfect. There’s also further storage beneath the bow cushions.
Cormate have addressed some of the issues that real boat owners face. A brochure boat looks great, but often can be a pain to berth. The entire range of Cormate boats have fender cubbyholes that allow the fenders to be stowed where they’re needed, and vitally without having to tie them again. There are also six drop-down cleats, bow and stern anchor lockers, plenty of rope lockers, various storage boxes and even a holder for the boathook.
The Supermarine version we had was lavishly covered with real teak, including on the bathing platform, cockpit, gunwales and fender boards. It also had a Simrad MFD, mahogany dash, stainless propeller, deck lights, hydraulic steering, bow thruster, and of course the loo under the helm. But as expected, these things don’t come cheap, and all that Norwegian quality adds up, so you’ll be paying up to £100,000 for the 370hp diesel, and that’s before you start ticking boxes on the options list. If you’re looking for value, then there’s a huge market for budget boats that’ll give you similar space, but none can compete with the full package that the Cormate offers.
The Cormate is a great boat, there’s absolutely no arguing that. You can’t fail to be impressed with its performance. It’s impressively quick, takes the waves well and is finished to a level that only the Scandinavians seem to be masters of. But there’s no ignoring that pound-shaped elephant in the room. It starts at £68k for petrol and £90k for the diesel engine, and that’s a lot for a dayboat, seriously limiting its market. For that price, you could have a spacious cabin boat that’ll not only take you out to sea but offer an evening retreat as well as a place to enjoy a G&T without even leaving the marina.
But if that’s what you’re after, then I really doubt that you are the true Cormate target audience. What they are looking for are buyers that’ll that the 24 by the racing throttle and wind it all the way up to the max, and after a day on the water with the middle-of-the-range model, it won’t be any shock if you start to sport Cormate on the water more often.