- … the Neo 7 is one of the freshest, most bracing and most noteworthy designs I’ve seen in the last couple of years.
- … it might just become the mainstream solution the pontoon-resistant UK boater has been waiting for.
Weird but Wonderful – Interboat Neo 7
If you like the idea of riding in the bow but dislike the reality, Alex Smith reckons the Neo 7 from Interboat is a brave and brilliant solution.
A conventional pontoon boat is at once a brilliant and a tragic thing. Perched on two or three rigid tubular sponsons, these rectangular platforms, so favoured by American lake users, generate unbeatable internal space and enormous communal seating capacity. In fact, in many ways they make a mockery of the bowrider’s inherent weaknesses – not just by opening up the deck with a beam-forward design but also by eradicating the defined cordon between those in the bow and those aft of the screen.
On the downside, however, pontoon boats are desperately ugly to look at, perfectly uninteresting to drive and largely unusable on anything but sheltered patches of water, tucked well away from the mood swings of the sea – and here in the UK, that’s simply not good enough. Certainly, we want a leisure boat that can offer pontoon-style internal space, but we don’t want that to come at the expense of dynamic sports boat looks or authentic coastal ability. Cue the Interboat Neo 7 …
The Basic Design Principles
Interboat tasked their designers with bringing together the best elements of a pontoon boat, a Boston Whaler and a Dutch sloop – and the craft that came out of that bizarre conceptual cauldron made a big impression at last year’s London Boat Show.
Known as the Neo 7, this surprisingly natural-looking hybrid uses a broad, weighty monohull with a generous bow flare, allied to elevated freeboards, an open deck and a trio of basic configurations – the sociable Lounge layout (with a steering position in the centre of the aft space), the decadent Comfort layout (with the helm on the starboard side amidships), and the action-style Sport layout (with a central steering position and an open transom for easy-access water sports). In all cases, you get a huge bow space with a full complement of wrap-around seating, plus elevated guard rails and deep storage compartments. And if you want to tweak the boat for fishing, cruising, sunbathing or dining, the customisation-friendly Interboat will certainly cater for that.
As for performance, I have yet to drive this boat, but I wouldn’t expect the Neo 7 to be agile or quick. After all, despite a length of just 23 feet, this thing weighs about twice as much as some planing craft of a comparable length; and its (surprisingly generous) maximum power rating of around 200hp is still half that of the market’s most aggressive options. However, it would be wrong to imagine that the value of the Neo 7 is confined solely to ponderous strawberry munchers at the Henley Regatta. On the contrary, with a V-shaped monohull as opposed to a trihedral wedge or a pair of blunt sponsons, it will happily take you out to sea without compacting your spine or rinsing the bone marrow from your brain stem. And while you can of course spec it with the lowly 20hp unit, the top-end diesel option will bring you a top end of around 25 knots, which is just the ticket for wakeboarding.
Along with a couple of particularly gratifying Nordic creations, the Neo 7 is one of the freshest, most bracing and most noteworthy designs I’ve seen in the last couple of years. For those keen on the idea of big deck space but repelled by the dynamic limitations and the drab, agricultural ugliness of American-style pontoon boats, this is a monohull unlike any other. If it performs with the dryness, obedience and efficiency common to the rest of the Interboat range, it might just become the mainstream solution the pontoon-resistant UK boater has been waiting for.
- LOA: 7.0m
- Beam: 2.55m
- Draught: 0.80m
- Weight: 2500kg
- Power: 27 to 200 hp
- Fuel capacity: 60 litres
- Price: From £30,860