- It is meant as a runabout picnic boat, but the handling and seakeeping are a cut above the norm, as one would expect from this pedigree.
- This is a serious boat that drivers will enjoy and newcomers will find easy from the outset.
- The RS drives with the precision and crispness one would expect of a thoroughbred and relives the sports runabout from the 50s and 60s.
Simon Everett gets behind the wheel of the all-new Draco from the Windy stable.
Straight stems are becoming something of a fashion statement: they are to be found on some of the world’s most iconic craft, including the all-new Draco RS. Not only does it save on length between perpendiculars so you get more boat for the stated length, but it lends a fresh, modern look to the boat.
The name Draco may be new to some readers, so perhaps we should start by giving a short introduction to how they fit into the marine industry jigsaw. Draco is one of the most respected names in Norwegian boatbuilding. The company first emerged in the early 1960s when Kaare Drangsholt built his first boat in a garage in Flekkefjord. By the 1970s Draco were one of the largest sports boat builders in Europe, competing with the influx of cheaper, American boats and, in normal Scandinavian style, bettering their design, performance and quality with a wide range of boats from the 1700 Topless through to the Flybridge 3400 Opal. This year is the 50th anniversary of Windy, but Draco have been around for three years longer.
Each numerical designation came from the length of the boat, and across their 27-model line-up Draco had something in their range for virtually every requirement of the time. Such was the build quality that many of those earlier boats are still providing sterling service for their owners and have laid down a solid foundation for the reintroduction of the name with the equally solid foundation of the Ocean Craft line, who were the first to wear the Draco badge under Windy ownership.
The philosophy is for Draco to partner Windy with boats of equal build quality and stature on the water, offering outboard-powered runabouts while Windy offer Sports GT and cruising boats with inboard propulsion. The 22RS and 27RS are the first models in this new approach. There is a family resemblance in the triangulated windscreen – a hallmark of the older Dracos and one that provides a DNA link between the past and the present creations. The design profile of both RS boats is similar, with the snubbed bow providing a very aeronautical silhouette. In fact, I think the silhouette is very much like a World War II fighter, and in the dark shades favoured by Scandinavians it looks very purposeful and mean. In a dare to be different, there are coloured options that are a diversion from the norm too. The trend with the RS is to stand out from the crowd in an understated kind of way with a simple elegance that the Scandi countries do so well in a modern revisitation of the sports runabout.
The interior is that of a bowrider, but a bowrider with a difference. It is actually more like the twin-cockpit boats of the golden era of motor boating, with the forward cockpit able to be completely isolated from the screen forward with a double-fold GRP door that keeps the draught out of the aft cockpit. The aft cockpit has a couple of options for the seating layout, with the across-the-stern bench seat converting into a lie-flat sunbed. The side access to the swimming platform is unencumbered and the flat cockpit is self-draining throughout, making keeping the boat clean easier while being safer too.
The internal freeboard is particularly generous, giving a greater margin of safety and a confident feeling of security within both of the cockpits. This safety aspect is especially important when travelling with youngsters, who can be safely ensconced in the forward cockpit where they can be kept under a watchful eye.
Some might see the uncomplicated nature of the accommodation as a drawback, but as with their open, minimalist living spaces, the Norwegian design works on the principle that less is more. What there is is all you need, and it is beautifully crafted. The hull and deck are made from resin-infused laminate, and although that reduces the weight, the stiffness and strength are increased, which you can feel on the water. There isn’t a squeak or a rattle or any movement within the structure, except for the double-leaf door left open for the forward access. With it closed, even this is as silent as the grave.
The soft, suede-like upholstery is a special, very hard-wearing and waterproof cloth called Silvertex, and it is available in a variety of colour options. I like the muted grey, and so will you in the glare of the sun, where lighter shades reflect the light. The teak decking is an option, but I think it is one most owners would go for, right through. After all, you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Another nice option that goes with the grey is the Nextel matt finish to the dashboard. The test boat didn’t have it, but one of the pontoons did and the difference is worth it.
The emphasis is on spaciousness, so the console is kept to the minimum and houses two useful stowage spaces but no head. There is further stowage forward below the deep forward seats with their padded surround. The locker space is actually generous, but in small parts. It is meant as a runabout picnic boat, but the handling and seakeeping are a cut above the norm, as one would expect from this pedigree. This is a serious boat that drivers will enjoy and newcomers will find easy from the outset.
Like the rest of the boat, the helm is deliberately kept as clean as possible. There is space enough on the dash for a Raymarine 9″ display, flanked by the music system control panel and the Yamaha digital gauges. On the flat of the console lie the trim tab controls, while the throttle and gear lever are mounted on top of an extension of the console specifically for the purpose, in typical Scandinavian efficiency. The position is ideal for easy and comfortable use underway, being level with the wheel, but secure at rest as it is protected from the passenger traffic.
The passenger front seat is a mirror of the pedestal helm seat, with fully adjustable settings and a lift-up front portion of the squab. These seats are deep and fully supportive, but also allow a degree of freedom by enabling one to perch upon the lifted squab cushion. Where the helm has the dash, the passenger side has a glovebox housing the sound system. The aft seat folds completely flat, leaving a clear view like an infinity swimming pool from the cockpit out over the transom and to the wider world beyond.
I love the open swimming platform – close to the water with full access across between the motor and the seat, all of which is teak covered. With the seat back up, there is sufficient support and security for high-speed travel, which the 200hp Yamaha provides plenty of. A 22ft boat with ‘just’ 200hp is never going to be a rocket ship, but the light displacement and refined hull allow for a very healthy 43 knots on a brand-new motor with a nearly full tank and two burly blokes. Marry that to the solid and beautifully poised hull and when the water chops up you’ll probably find the Draco is faster than others, even if they have a higher top end on flattish water. Maintaining a good average is more important than outright warp speed.
At higher speeds the windscreen does a really fine job of encapsulating the two forward seats in relatively slow-moving air. The rake angle suits the profile and is a retro styling device that blends the old with the new. It really is a clever design that from a distance could be mistaken for a much older boat, so those classic lines will endure, while lurking beneath the decorative facade is a very capable shape that is almost impossible to upset. Turns are carved cleanly and evenly – the running surface has a mild-mannered blend of ride softening with ease of popping onto the plane, helped by that low displacement, which makes the handling sublime.
The RS drives with the precision and crispness one would expect of a thoroughbred and relives the sports runabout from the 50s and 60s – the difference being you don’t have acres of varnish to maintain or wood to prevent from rotting. The engine will be a tad more reliable too, running with the quiet efficiency that Yamaha are renowned for. Personally, I like the throaty rumble from a mighty V8, but the modern outboard is lighter, quieter and far more economical on fuel, so I suppose we shouldn’t complain.
The 22RS is a thrilling, agile, open sports boat that you would be proud to be seen in, or better still, own. We can’t pretend that it is cheap, but in many ways that makes it even more appealing, as it will remain fairly exclusive. Should you feel you need even more space, then her bigger sister, the RS27, might be the answer to your prayers.
- Fresh, modern design with hints of retro
- Sublime handling
- Secure forward cockpit
- Lack of heads
- Simplistic layout
RPM Knots Gallons/hr
- 600 2.5 0.4
- 1000 4.3 0.7
- 2000 7.0 2.0
- 3000 16.5 4.1
- 3500 23.1 5.7
- 4000 27.7 7.4
- 5000 35.9 13.4
- 5900 43.1 21.2
- From: £62,000 (price includes lines, fenders, handover, ensign staff)
- As tested: £74,124 (inc. VAT)
Berthon Boat Company
Lymington SO41 3YL