With plenty of sunbathing space, this drop-dead 50-knot Italian is a driver’s delight.
Being launched late in 2019, the Cranchi E26 Rider is hardly hot off the docks. However, this craft and its more conventional counterpart, the E26 Classic, had barely seen the limelight before global events delayed the arrival of either of these retro sports boats on our shores. Both enjoy the same superb hull, which, with its unusually smooth single spray rail design, has a slab-like appearance with its vertical topsides and near vertical stem. This is very much in keeping with modern retro designs, and the E26 is one of numerous ‘back to roots sports boat designs’ that many big builders now favour – just being Italian and designed by Christian Grande makes it particularly authentic.
The hull design is courtesy of Aldo Cranchi, for which he deserves credit, as this boat provides a responsive sure-footed driving experience, in keeping with this company’s reputation. The outboard-powered Rider version of the E26 has the bonus of being rigged with either a 250hp V8 Mercury, a 300hp V8 Mercury or the 350hp supercharged Mercury – at the moment. This gives it an impressive performance range of between 45 and 53 knots. The sterndriven E26 Classic, in diesel and petrol forms, may have the ultimate retro look, but the Rider will be the driver. The helm is designed around the driving experience, with wrap-around bucket seats and flip-up bolsters, should you want to stand and look over the windscreen. The throttle is located in easy reach of your right hand, with a trim tab panel above it starboard of the wheel. Simrad electronics will be OEM for a Mercury-powered boat, which means that you can specify a large-screen MFD capable of interfacing with any Mercury engine.
This craft may have a more practical feel with its water sports A-frame than its Classic sibling, but the moment you catch a glimpse of its stunning red upholstery and unusual layout, you realise this is a bowrider with a difference. The decking is solid teak, and all the deck hardware is exactly that. The chunky cleats would look borrowed from a 30-footer if it wasn’t for the fact that their ‘drop-down no-trip’ design makes their presence barely felt. The windlass sits neatly beneath a solid teak hatch on the forepeak, running a suitably serious claw anchor through a stainless aperture in the stem.
The bow area houses a small lounging area on the same level as the cockpit, with a fold-down teak table in the peak of the bow. Unlike some bowrider designs, Cranchi have not felt tempted to make this section too large. This makes good sense, as the moment you succumb to the white-knuckle performance of this boat, ‘riding point’ will not seem so attractive to your crewmates. On the other hand, the unusual cockpit configuration of two opposing sofas makes good sense. Like the helmsman and navigator, anyone sprawling in the cockpit is low enough to be cut off from wind blast. This area is long enough to create two single sunbeds or, with the provided infill, a huge sunbathing area. The twin helm seats can be rotated back towards the sofas when needed, and there is the option to deploy a small teak drinks table.
One aspect of modern sports boat designs this boat has not neglected is that all-important heads compartment. The truth is that this will likely sell this boat more than its upholstery. It sits on the port side between the helm and the bow section, and though it looks externally short in height, with the toilet mounted as low as possible it is realistically usable. Next to the navigator’s seat is a small sink, and opposite the heads is a generous fridge of around 50 litres or more, with a Fusion hi-fi above. In the cockpit sit two deck hatches. The aft hatch reveals a large storage area for all those water sports toys, not to mention somewhere to stash the all-over cover when you cast off, and the bimini when not in use. Forward of this, another deck hatch provides access to the fuel tank, fuel cut-offs and seacocks. At the stern, the outboard motor is flanked on both sides by two bathing platforms giving direct access to the water or the shore, also aided by a convenient retractable ladder.
The E26 Rider is certainly a slightly different twist on the average budget bowrider. It is aimed at being a superyacht tender as much as being a boat in its own right. However, I suspect its abilities, features and pure all-out driving fun will make this a popular choice for the rank-and-file powerboater, especially those considering squeezing a family into a toiletless 8m RIB at a similar price.
- LOA: 8.10m (26ft 7in)
- Beam: 2.49m (8ft 02in)
- Draught: 0.7m (2ft 04in)
- Fuel capacity: 270L (60 gal)
- Water capacity: 70L (16 gal)
- Engines: Single 250hp, 300hp or 350hp Mercury outboard
- Design: Christian Grande
- Hull design: Aldo Cranchi
- CE rating: B
- £99,000 (inc. VAT, approx.)