Runabout is a humble term for the style of a boat which is anything but simple. It is used to encompass many different types of vessels – from bowriders to centre consoles or cabin boats usually measuring 6 metres to 10 metres. They all do, however, have a few things in common. Firstly, they are spacious enough for between four and eight people to travel comfortably and with maximum enjoyment. Which leads us on the second shared characteristic: fun. Runabouts are used for everything from racing, to fishing, water-skiing, and day cruising. Far from being a small first-time boat aimed at the inexperienced sailor, runabouts are sporty, powerful and, as we’ll see from our list, can be real head-turners.
When it comes to manufacturers, some have been producing ever-more impressive runabouts for decades, while there are also some newer brands coming to the market and causing a stir. Cranchi, Riva, Pascoe, RIBX, Boesch, Frauscher, Beneteau, and Finnmaster are big boys in this arena, but by no means alone.
So what did 2023 bring us in the way of runabouts? Outboards seem to be back with a vengeance, the modern engines quiet, smoke-free and fast while also making more space in the cockpit. Yet sterndrives aren’t going anywhere either. A sleek, elegant silhouette is being favoured over more functional aesthetics, bringing back the glamour of boating. Here we take a look at some of the best runabouts to hit the water in 2023;
Beneteau Flyer 8.8 Sundeck
Beneteau have outdone themselves once again with this excellent runabout. Managing to be both sporty and elegant, it maximises deck and interior space in a truly impressive way. Mattresses on the forward sundeck are perfect for lounging, while inside the day saloon – large enough for eight people to sit around the table – transforms into a light and airy two-berth cabin. The patented Air Step® 2 technology drastically increases performance, safety, and cruising comfort, creating a very smooth ride. While still a day cruiser, the increased range of features in this 9m speedster, means you and up to 10 guests can enjoy more time on the water in greater comfort. Find this boat for sale on rightboat.com here -> Beneteau Flyer 8.8 SunDeck Boats for Sale
Boesch 620 Bimini Deluxe
Almost a century of boat-building expertise is evident in the Boesch 620 Bimini Deluxe. Resplendent in mahogany, this high performance, classic style boat features a V-8 320HP engine. Its agility, speed and perfect stern wave created by the Boesch Horizon Gliding principle make it popular with water skiers who want to show off their skills in style. The luxury model comes equipped with sturdy sun protection, which protects passengers even at top speeds. One of the smallest of Boesch’s runabouts, it is by no means lacking. The Boesch Laminate Technology means it has a low weight, and even with the optional electric-power engines is more than string enough for water-skiing.
Walker Bay Generation Deluxe 525
Walker Bay’s trendy, sporty boats are big players in the RIB world, and 525 Generation Deluxe is no exception. It manages to be many things; innovative, versatile, watersports-friendly, and downright fun. At 5 metres this is Walker Bay’s largest model, and the version also exudes luxury. It makes the perfect tender, transporting guests in comfort, yet it’s also a fabulous day boat. Its extra-deep V-hull, superior manoeuvrability and range of luxury features make this centre-console more than your average RIB.
Finnmaster Cabin Pilot 7 Weekend
The version of the popular Pilot 7 by Finnish manufacturer Finnmaster easily made it onto our list. Robust, safe, versatile and kitted out with an impressive range of equipment, this is the kind of runabout that you could easily hunker down on for an impromptu night on the water. A large steering cabin with berths for four people, toilet and well-equipped galley make this the ideal weekender. While designed with northern European weather in mind, there is still plenty of outdoor space for enjoying long sunny summer evenings, as well as two swim platforms. Find this boat for sale on rightboat.com ->Finnmaster Cabin Pilot 7 Weekend Boat or Finnmaster Cabin Pilot 7 Weekend Boat
Jeanneau NC 1095
Those looking for the perfect family cruiser should certainly take a look at Jeanneau’s Merry Fisher 1095. So proud is this top American manufacturer of their new 10.5 metre weekender that it is the new flagship of the NC line. It is sporty and better suited to more experienced boaters, but obvious consideration has been made for families. The ride is smooth, recessed side-decks allow for safe movement around the boat, the galley is surprisingly spacious, and there are three cabins – and all of this is on one deck to maximise the natural light. Add to this its exceptional fuel efficiency and 1095 was an easy choice for this list.
Sea Ray SLX 310 OB
The sleek and stylish Sea Ray SLX 310 Outboard to come out of the Sea Ray shipyard is a real head-turner. Designed for days soaking up the sun on the lake or coast, it has plush seating aplenty, with sun loungers on the foredeck and swim platform. This is a boat to enjoy with friends, sipping cocktails al fresco and enjoying the good life. But it’s not just the 310s appearance which is impressive. Her Twin 300XL Mercury® Verados® engines are spookily quiet, and Dynamic Running Surface innovation creates unsurpassed stability and performance.
Chaparral 21 H2O OB Sport
For outstanding value for money, the new Chaparral 21 H2O Outboard Sport is a real winner. You get an awful lot of boat – and the technology from the shipyard’s larger models – making this a sporty, spacious little speedster you’ll have years of enjoyment out of. The 150 HP Yamaha outboard engines propel with ease, while deck-wise there is a rear sun pad which converts into a chaise longue. Whether in salt or freshwater, this 6-metre speedster is quick to plane and full of speed. And if you really want to make a statement, you can choose from a range of eye-catching colours including lime green, electric blue, and fire red.
Technically a deck-boat, the Stingray 216CC is in fact many things. Comfortable seating, easy maintenance, and impressive versatility make this one of the best all-rounders for coastal adventures. And its value for money don’t hurt either. Following with the trend of swapping sterndrives for outboards, the 216CC features Suzuki outboard engines which are purpose-built, fuel-efficient, saltwater-friendly and reduce harmful emissions. It means you can be skimming shallow waters and fishing to heart’s content – there are rod holders and livewells as standard. A fibreglass hardtop will provide shade, and bow seating is comfortable and spacious for a 6.5 metre model.
This article was published in August 2019 and was last updated in December 2022.
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