- This is a superbly built and designed sports cruiser in all respects.
- The fit and finish of any Windy is of a very high standard, and the Ghibli is no exception.
- The Windy brand is known for holding its value and the Ghibli maintains this tradition.
- There are many reasons for the Ghibli’s popularity, though not too surprisingly the driving experience tops the list.
- Few 28ft boats have as much kudos as the Windy Ghibli.
Windy 28 Ghibli
It has often been said that the 28 Ghibli was Windy’s most successful boat. Greg Copp takes an in-depth look at the reasons why …
Until being replaced by the 29 Coho in 2013, Windy’s 28 Ghibli was hailed by many as the best sub-30ft sports boat in production. Built with a formidable unbreakable deep-vee hull, and with a selection of potent engine options, this boat attracted many buyers following its launch in 1999, and like all Windy craft, the Ghibli has always had a generous price tag – both new and second-hand. Cherished by their owners, these boats, even after nearly two decades, show little evidence of time.
There are many reasons for the Ghibli’s popularity, though not too surprisingly the driving experience tops the list. Even with the earliest engine options, this boat was swift, and weighing at around 2.5 tonnes it was frugal – capable of returning 4mpg at around 30 knots. However, the Windy hull was what really gave this boat the edge. Its slim deep-vee profile enabled it to run through weather that would have bigger boats backing off. It was also responsive and well balanced, providing a reassuring ride in confused water, as well as making it a great water sports tool. At 8.5m it is that perfect length that many consider ideal for a fast middleweight planing boat – long enough to breach most wave troughs at speed while having enough weight to make an impression on the sea.
The hull is based on its predecessor the Windy 8000, which had a 22-degree transom deadrise angle, sharpening to 24 degrees amidships – lines that the Ghibli retained. However, a few subtle but significant changes were made – notably less flare at the bow and three full-length spray rails to compensate. The beam was also reduced – by 6 inches. The hull construction of the Ghibli changed to multidirectional fibre mat, from the previous chopped-strand mat of the 8000, resulting in more strength and less weight. Given that this boat was launched when diesel sterndrive power was approaching the 300hp boundary, and would soon push on past, this was a wise move.
Engine options were varied. Initially it was 230hp Volvo KAD43s or 260hp KAD44s on duo-prop sterndrives. For those wanting whisper-smooth petrol performance there was a choice of twin 225hp Volvo V6s or a single 330hp Volvo V8. However, in 2002, the arrival of the 285hp Volvo KAD300, with even more torque than its KAD44 predecessor, eclipsed the petrol options. This engine pushed the Ghibli to close on 40 knots – and for half the fuel cost. In 2004, the Ghibli was offered with twin common-rail injected 160hp Volvo D3s on single-prop SX drives. These proved popular considering this is a 28ft boat, especially in the Mediterranean where twin engines prove their worth at stern-to berthing. The D3 was uprated to 190hp and finally 220hp before production of the Ghibli ceased. Performance from these compact 5-cylinder aluminium engines ranged from around 34 knots for twin 160hp D3s to around 40 knots for boats with twin 220hp D3s. In the same year that the D3 arrived, the common-rail injected duo-prop 310hp Volvo D6 replaced the KAD300. This big 5.5-litre engine was successively updated to 330, 350, 370 and 400hp throughout the boat’s production, pushing the top speed to over 45 knots for the 370hp and 400hp boats.
Accommodation is the normal sports boat layout, with just one convertible dinette forward providing a generous 6ft 3in double berth. The galley is compact but realistic, all things considered. It is located just inside the companionway, so you can knock up bacon butties without having to stoop. The fridge is located under the cockpit sole, immediately aft of the companionway steps. Unless you know where it is, you would think the boat has no cold storage. It might sound unusual, but you can easily open its cockpit hatch from inside the cabin, and, positioned under the deck, it is a decent size. There is also a bottle and glass rack locker next to the navigator’s seat, which, like the hidden fridge, gives the galley more storage, without cramping the cabin. Having a diesel hob negates the need for shore power, but boiling a kettle will require some patience. The heads is a compact set-up, but will certainly serve the purpose without hardship. If you want a shower it is located on the transom – so best used at sea.
The helm arrangement is a straightforward set-up, which, if you want to use it to its best, is a case of standing when driving. You can then lean back against the flip-up bolster and see over the windscreen, with the throttles and wheel where you want them. Sitting looking through the screen is really best suited for when you want to settle down and soak up some sea miles. Windy had the good sense to give this boat a chart table forward of the instruments, but on the flipside there is only room for a 7″ plotter next to the wheel.
Something that is evident in a Windy is the quality of the upholstery and teak decking, which last better than most. Some boats will have the optional central teak section on the foredeck – safety aside, it certainly enhances appearance.
Engine access is good with either single or twin engines. The entire sun pad comes up courtesy of a switch, revealing a beautifully moulded engine bay with the same finesse as its bigger siblings. Under-seat storage is crafted in the same typical neat Windy fashion.
Few 28ft boats have as much kudos as the Windy Ghibli. This is not just down to the build quality and the badge on the side, but also to what this boat is capable of. It has the sea manners to truly stretch its cruising legs offshore, coupled to an impressive power-to-weight ratio, even by contemporary standards. There is a downside, of course – and that is finding one for sale.
- Build period: 1999 to 2012.
- Designer: Hans Jorgen Johnson
- Berths: 2
- Cabins: 1
- Hull type: Deep-vee planing
- Transom deadrise angle: 22 degrees
- RCD category: B for 8
- Length overall: 8.45m (27ft 9in)
- Beam: 2.7m (8ft 10in)
- Draught: 0.99m (3ft 4in)
- Displacement: 2.3 to 2.7 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 375 litres (82 gallons)
- Water capacity: 80 litres (18 gallons)
- Cruising range: Approx. 300 miles with a 20% reserve at 25 to 30 knots (depending on engine options)
- Current value: From £50,000
Points to Consider
With the older KAD engines, service history is paramount. The KAD300 is partial to valve clearance checks/adjustment every 200 hours. All KAD series engines can suffer starter motor problems. The Volvo D6 can suffer from faulty steering ram gaiters, as well as software problems. However, it is fair to say that by now, most D6s have had their glitches sorted, and a Ghibli powered by a D6 is a very exciting boat to drive. The D3, though it proved popular for this boat, suffered from turbo vane problems in its earliest 160hp form. This mainly applied if the engine was not driven hard as the vanes would stick in one position from carbon build-up.
The Windy brand is known for holding its value and the Ghibli maintains this tradition. The fact that the oldest examples are still fetching over £50,000 shows just how popular these boats are second-hand. If you look at a comparable boat of the same age you will see how much the Ghibli has held its value.
Build quality/fit & finish
The fit and finish of any Windy is of a very high standard, and the Ghibli is no exception. Generally Windy owners cherish their boats, so neglect from lack of use is going to be the most likely shortfall you are likely to find.
The KAD44 and KAD300 will cost around £400 to £500 to service, with the D6 at £600 plus. A pair of D3s will work out at approximately £600, though this can escalate if you need a full bellows service on the sterndrives. The cost of spares has never been a Volvo strong point either in the UK or overseas, however availability and the abundance of service agents are very good in the UK and Europe.
The mechanically injected Volvo KAD44s and KAD300s should return around 4mpg at 30 knots. The common-rail injected D6 will prove the most economical engine for this boat, improving on the older KADs by around 10%.
2004 price: £69,950
Berthed in Calpe on the Costa Blanca in Spain, Jelly Bean is a tidy 2004 example of a Ghibli and is powered by twin 160hp Volvo D3s. She is a well-specified boat, being fitted with a Sleipner bow thruster, teak decking, Garmin chartplotter, Bennett trim tabs, white upholstery, custom bimini top and new tonneau cover. In 2013, she underwent a substantial amount of servicing/maintenance, including a full engine and drive service (inc. bellows and ram seals), new saloon flooring, new fast-drying sun pad cushions, new heads pump, new battery charger, new batteries and teak treatment.
This is a superbly built and designed sports cruiser in all respects. At sea, she can be driven at speed through rough water with no concern for the hull and deck structure, which seem to have the rigidity of a battering ram. As with all Windy boats, the finish is beautifully executed and durable, and exudes quality. The engineering is simple and straightforward and the fit-out the same. There are a number of good-quality production-built sports cruisers manufactured in this size range, but in my opinion, the Ghibli tops them all. Ghiblis are not low-cost options and so they tend to attract owners who will look after them and at least carry out the scheduled services. In fact, it is always worth asking to see the service history before making an offer, as this will be a key factor in her value.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS