BOAT TEST: RUSHCUTTER 25
The Rushcutter 25 proves less is more, offering a comfortable ride and sufficient amenities for a day — or night — to remember, discovers DAVID LOCKWOOD
Regardless of thinking, size, price point or power options, all good boats meet their designer's objectives. They are fit for the purpose, but not at the expense of the basic principles of seaworthiness, sound construction and at least a whiff of performance.
Boats of note are also comfortable underway, mindful of human factors when swinging on the anchor and, in this day and age, they should offer a smarter way of doing things.
Enter the launch. A design that has stood the test of time, the humble launch is at first glance little more than a simple open boat with an inboard engine, plenty of seating, and a swooping bow to cut through the water and shed the spray.
But great renditions of the launch go further and stir the senses by being at one with the water. And judging by recent launches, pun intended, the launch is staging something of a comeback. Everything old is new again. The advent of leaner, smaller, faster engines has seen the launch, well, relaunched.
Here starts the story of the Rushcutter 25…
BLUE RIBBON DESIGN
David Sampson is a Sydney-based professional sailor and shipwright who found himself admiring a fetching launch tied to the waterfront in Portofino, Italy, during a regatta way back in 2002. He took a mental snapshot of that pretty boat and, over the ensuing years, moulded the idea to fit his growing family's needs.
Sampson finally realised his dream and gave birth to the aptly named Rushcutter 25 earlier this year. The boat was also the result of considerable input from Sydney-based naval architect Andy Dovell.
A confidante and partner of Iain Murray, Dovell's designs run the gamut from fast racing maxis to the (now-defunct) Sydney brand of production yachts, chic Palm Beach lobster-style boats to this pretty little Rushcutter 25.
After a year spent toying with the design, the Rushcutter is a well thought out boat that embodies the old architects saying that form follows function. A modern version of a classic, she uses a composite vacuum-bagged hull, an internal moulded liner and deck mould.
"There was nothing out there like this so I thought I should build my answer to the perfect dayboat," Samson told Trade-a-Boat.
Based on the carpe diem principle, Sampson sought to create a dry, stable, safe, comfortable and simple pleasure boat for seizing the day. I note a useful amount of freeboard up front and flare in the top sides to keep the sea at bay, a blunt stem to maximise waterline length, hard chines and a nice flat run aft for lift and surefootedness at rest and on the hop.
FAST OR SLOW
With a single 110hp Yanmar diesel inboard engine, upgraded from the standard 75hp Yanmar, the Rushcutter 25 can fly to your favourite anchorage at an impressive 20 knots. But while speed might come in handy when you want to hightail it back home on a Sunday afternoon, why the hurry? I find far greater pleasure idling along at seven knots, where the engine is sipping the fuel, the noise levels are pleasantly low and you can soak up the vistas like a human sponge.
At rest, there is much to enjoy about the Ruchcutter 25, not least the beautifully big and stable cockpit with surround seating for eight shaded by a bimini top. Like all good launches, there are clear views and connection with the water. Teak decking , toerails and a stainless steel bowsprit add to the utility, as does the 100lt water tank, cold deck shower, and electric anchor winch.
The useful lunch table doubles as a floor section that lifts on legs. There is under-lounge storage for safety gear and a decent icebox. The swim platform is destined for just as much use. Things get even more interesting up front.
The recessed forward sun lounge is perfect for a pair of kids to muck about. Then the whole thing lifts on struts to reveal a decent cabin with vee-berth and toilet with holding tank. So if your day turns into night, stay over and wake to do it all over again. I'm supposing the cabin will be appreciated as a change room, too.
With a draft of just 0.5m and a keel, you can nudge the Rushcutter 25 into a beach without worrying about damaging the running gear. Best of all, she is a low-maintenance boating solution. Easy to use means she is used often and, I'm told, the launch is a 10-minute in-and-out operation.
The addition of a Lewmar bowthruster makes decamping a snap and, should you keep the boat in a dock, you don't have to fight with the prop walk of single-engine boats when reversing.
Hydrive hydraulic steering and a nice big Edson wheel make light work of helming, while a Yanmar analogue engine panel takes pride of place on the dash, where there's plenty of legroom. On the demonstrator there was no back support on the helm bench seat, such things are easy to specify.
"I wanted to build a boat for my wife and kids, something comfortable and safe, with a big cockpit for doing lunch and a cabin for getting changed or grabbing 40 winks," explains Sampson, who has a six-month-old and a two-year-old kid captain in tow. "She's a boat for day trips, for camping at The Basin, and for taking it fast or slow," he says.
While she draws on many sources, the Rushcutter 25 is essentially a product of a lifetime of mucking about in boats in Pittwater. It's fitting, then, that that is where we tested the boat. At idle of 900rpm, we slip along at 3.9kts, at 1500rpm the boat is joyful doing 6.4kts, while 2000rpm produce 8.1kts. The Rushcutter 25 breaks into a plane at 2500rpm and 10.6kts, is up and running at 3000rpm and 13.8kts, while top speed was 17.5kts, but up to 20kts with a clean hull bottom, we're told.
Apparently trim tabs will be fitted on future boats, which are likely to run a little flatter than this first rendition that rode a tad bow-high. But really, we couldn't find much to fault during our quick spin and slow-lane cruise.
You'll find a lot of knockabout carvel launches about the waterfront these days. Many are wrecks but others, with a repower and a backyard makeover, would make a fantastic dayboat that serves as a foil to the hurried workaday life. Add one of those trick Torqeedo electric outboards and a battery bank and you could plug-and-play for a song.
But if that sounds like too much work then something like the Rushcutter 25 could be your answer. She is a timeless modern-day launch for today's time-poor boaties. And, at the end of the day, you can put her to bed in the time it takes to load the empty picnic hamper back in the car. If you want more, a 31-footer with cabin is destined to follow.
Sampson says he is hoping to build up to 10 boats a year and sees applications for the Rushcutter 25 in charter fleets, perhaps gadding about the Gold Coast canals, around Docklands, or the Gippsland Lakes. The launch would also serve as a superyacht tender and yacht-club conveyance. But I am imagining it serving as a commuter craft when not tied to a waterfront home. Simple pleasures, indeed.
Specifications- Rushcutter 25
PRICE AS TESTED
The Rushcutter 25 with upgraded 110hp Yanmar diesel engine, bowthruster, blue hull and bimini top was selling for $137,000
Cockpit cover, Oxford Blue hull, teak decks and seat cushions, plus cold drinks, chicken and salads
$123,000 w/ 75hp Yanmar diesel engine
Material: Vacuum-bagged composite hull
Type: Hard-chine planing hull
Length overall: 7.50m
Draft: Approx. 0.58m
Deadrise: Flat aft
Weight: Hull only 1600kg (light ship)
Make/model: Yanmar 4JH4 110hp diesel engine
Type: Inline four-cylinder four-stroke diesel with direct injection
Rated HP: 110 at 3600rpm
Weight: 207kg plus gearbox
Gearbox (make): ZF or Twin Disc
Props: Three-blade bronze
Contact David Sampson: phone 0414 390 017; Brian Sampson: 0418 419 419.
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