- If you spend a lot of time at the wheel, you’ll grow to respect the 81 DC’s unfussy dynamic behaviour as much as its endless features list and its distinctive looks.
- … you’ll be very satisfied with its al fresco dining ability, its first-rate cockpit protection, and its capacity to seat 10 and sleep as many as six.
- … until it ups its game regarding the ergonomics, the fittings and the finish, this rapid day cruiser is likely to be beaten into second place by the old guard.
Yamarin 81 DC
Alex Smith raises an eyebrow at a new Yamarin flagship that takes an established brand to places it’s never been …
Having reviewed Yamarin boats for more years than I care to remember, I must confess I’m a big fan of what they do. While their rigorous testing procedures tend to safeguard the quality, improve the robustness and guarantee the friendliness of the ergonomics, their famously idiot-proof hulls are both fun to drive and reassuring for the beginner. Of course, the company’s Cross range, with its aluminium hulls and fibreglass topsides, has been stealing most of the attention in the last few years, but Yamarin still do a traditional GRP line – and given the radical aesthetic of its latest flagship, it seems they are looking to reinforce the relevance of that increasingly sidelined fleet.
It’s no great surprise to learn, then, that this extraordinary-looking boat is not an in-house concept, but the work of renowned Norwegian studio Eker Design. With Hydrolift and Koenigsegg on their portfolio, they’re not afraid of pushing the boundaries, and in the case of Yamarin, it seems they were appointed to do exactly that. In their own words, their work for the new Yamarin flagship was all about creating a stronger identity for the GRP product range. They were responsible for ‘the overall design and the development and mechanical engineering from the waterline up’. They also created a ‘new design DNA’ by ‘rethinking the Yamarin brand with its current core values as a foundation’. And while a few internal similarities remain, the result is unlike anything that has gone before.
It might be a range-topping 300hp sports boat but this 81 DC is conceived very much as a safe, recreational family craft and the cockpit reflects that. The elevated wrap-around screen extends way aft toward the transom, and in tandem with the two-tier cockpit and the lofty gunwales, that keeps you very secure and well protected, even on the aft bench at 40 knots. However, the downside of this set-up is visibility, because unless you perch up at the helm, there is simply no forward view at all.
Even so, this deep-set cockpit is very impressive. It uses a galley to port where you might expect the co-pilot seat to be, with a detachable sink lid that can be fitted to the port console for some useful extra work surface. That frees up the entire lower cockpit section for seating, dining and sunbathing – and all are well catered for. In the centre of the lower tier’s peripheral bench seats you get a pair of diagonal tables, which can be rigged as a compact or full-cockpit dining station, as a half or full lounging platform or as a fully open deck space with ample room for movement.
The huge, multi-tier swim platforms supplement this with an excellent choice of storage solutions for lines, fenders and water sports gear. You also get a swim ladder on one side and a stern anchor on the other, plus a steel grab rail around the cowling of the big Yamaha F300 outboard. However, while these sections work a treat, the reversing backrest on the helm seat brings no significant rewards at all. When you swing it over to face aft, you’re still exiled from the lower passengers by means of your elevated position. You can’t reach the table without craning forward, and while the starboard seat leaves you nowhere to put your legs, the port one leaves them dangling above the deck with a bizarrely positioned grab handle digging you in the back of the calf. In short, this element of the boat is an ergonomic cock-up and no amount of creative interpretation will convince me otherwise.
Up at the helm you get some very neat features, such as tilt-adjustable steering, an intuitive tabs control, an armrest for your throttle hand and a dashboard recess for your tablet. However, there is no tread pattern machined into the smooth, glossy foot brace, and while the sheer ambition and freshness of the cockpit are laudable, the finish is not up to Yamarin’s usual standard. For instance, the lightweight tables rattle and squeak, the cheap plastic cup holders on the dash top are loose and undrained, and the stainless steel rails, cleats and ladders are disrupted by an ill-matched scattering of low-rent plastic grab handles – some in white and some in black, as though the factory simply ran out of the right bits and decided these would do. Their positioning is also very awkward, and that leads me to suspect that, while there’s plenty here to admire, more on-water testing, as well as greater care in the detail, is still required.
Modern but Untidy
Down below, the relatively full forward hull shape of the 81 brings useful dividends in terms of interior space for those in the primary double berth. Its angular mouldings also bring a welcome injection of modernity to the rather predictable cabins of the established boats. The long window section admits much more light than the traditional ovoid portholes, and the clipped cleanliness of the low-profile cushions, ultra-pale woods and gentle fabric tones do plenty to make the space feel both larger and more contemporary.
In addition to the 2-metre double berth, you get a starboard bench seat, a port heads compartment and a (very) compact guest bed beneath the cockpit sole.
However, while both the features and the aesthetics here look spot on, the finish is again lacking. A beige protuberance, which I took to be a toilet roll holder, snapped off and fell to the deck as I brushed past it; the bulkheads around the loo were so ill-fitting I could fit most of my hand through the gaps; the vinyl on the ceiling was poorly stuck and lumpy; and drips from a deckhead fastening appeared to show that rainwater was leaking from the foredeck into the cabin. Given the polish and cleanliness with which most Yamarin boats are presented, there’s no doubt that the 81 DC will need to radically up its game in this regard.
Features, features, features …
The standard features list of the 81 DC screams out its flagship credentials in every way. Yes, you get the regular Nordic assets, such as anchor boxes, fender baskets and user-friendly canopies, but you also get a stern anchor winch with remote, a bow thruster, a Garmin GPS and echo sounder, an automatic trim system and a Webasto diesel heater with 9-litre tank. The domestic treats are just as comprehensive, with a Fusion RA205 radio, a 48-litre fridge freezer, a two-ring gas stove, a helm demister, LED docking lights, a cockpit sink, a swim platform shower and a separate heads with electric loo.
And then there are the little elements of standard package overkill, like the LED ‘mood lights’, the synthetic teak decks, the trio of 12V outlets, the pair of windscreen wipers, the twin batteries and the waterski bracket. I could go on (twin cockpit tables, lockable hatches and the reversible two-man helm seat), but I’ll stop there and simply attest that I have rarely (if ever) seen a more comprehensively specced standard package in any sector of the market.
The all-new Petestep
The Petestep hull (yes, they really did call it that) is apparently the result of two years of on-water testing. It uses vertically angled spray rails that trap and deflect the spray downwards rather than dispersing it sideways. The idea is to generate a drier ride, plus extra lift, which (paradoxically) can then soften the impacts by means of a more graduated delivery of upthrust. It is also designed to offer a quieter ride, courtesy of that same cushioning spray deflection.
But how does it feel on the water? Well, in terms of power, it’s quite refreshing to note that there are no options here at all. The 81 comes with Yamaha’s F300 outboard engine, which is the same as the top-rated outboard on the previous flagship, the 79 DC. Interestingly, though, at 3cm longer and 16cm broader in the beam, with a weight of 2.1 metric tonnes, the 81 DC weighs 400kg more than the traditional 79 DC – and even with its new Petestep hull, it can’t quite reach the performance levels of the lighter boat.
The transition to the plane is a slightly sluggish, bow-up affair, with around six seconds elapsing before the hull settles back down over its hump. And while the top end of 42.1 knots is in the right zone for a sporting, cabin-equipped dayboat, its drive is more about unflappable compliance than fleet-footed dexterity. As you would expect of such a beamy, heavyweight platform, it’s certainly very composed and secure, and, as promised, it’s also impressively dry. In terms of its handling ability, it’s indisputably competent, but there’s no doubt that a measure of Yamarin’s traditional sporting vigour has been dialled out here – and that’s a feeling accentuated by the very refined and cossetting containment of that deep-set family cockpit.
If you spend a lot of time at the wheel, you’ll grow to respect the 81 DC’s unfussy dynamic behaviour as much as its endless features list and its distinctive looks. More to the point, you’ll be very satisfied with its al fresco dining ability, its first-rate cockpit protection, and its capacity to seat 10 and sleep as many as six. All of that represents a job well done on a platform of this scale – but until it ups its game regarding the ergonomics, the fittings and the finish, this rapid day cruiser is likely to be beaten into second place by the old guard. With its lower weight, gentler price, better-honed ergonomics, slicker finish and more classical approach, Yamarin’s less striking 79 DC remains (for the moment) the more convincing flagship.
- Dramatic styling
- 8-man dining station
- Large al fresco galley
- Big multi-tier swim platforms
- Extremely safe and secure cockpit
- Very generous specification
- Finish on the test boat is poor throughout
- Visibility from the cockpit is very restricted
- Clumsy cockpit ergonomics
- Flawed guest berth
- The 79 DC is a more convincing boat
Time to plane: 6.0 seconds
Top speed: 42.1 knots
Notable Standard Features
- Anchor boxes fore and aft
- Stern anchor with winch, line and remote
- Bow thruster
- Garmin GPS and echo sounder
- Twin cockpit tables
- Helm demister
- Fender baskets
- Automatic trim system
- 2-ring gas stove
- LED docking lights
- Hydraulic steering with tilt adjustment
- Lockable hatches and cabin door
- Reversible 2-man helm seat
- Cockpit sink with tap and cover
- Dashboard tablet recess
- Fusion RA205 radio with 4 speakers
- 48-litre fridge freezer
- Swim platform shower
- Separate heads with electric loo and sink
- Courtesy lights and LED ‘mood lights’
- Synthetic teak decks
- Stainless steel rails, cleats and ladders
- 3 12V outlets
- USB outlet
- 2 windscreen wipers
- Twin batteries
- 2-piece canopy
- Waterski bracket
- Webasto diesel heater with 9-litre tank
- Curtain set
- Shore power system
- Solar panels
- Transport cover
- Mooring canopy
- LOA: 8.05m
- Beam: 2.76m
- Weight: 1950kg
- Fuel capacity: 260 litres
- Freshwater capacity:
- Black-water capacity: 30 litres
- People capacity: 10
- Power: 300hp
- Engine: Yamaha F300
Not yet released