By: John Willis


Our current exchange rate has seen a huge import market develop in trailerable boats, with every man and his dog bringing them in from the good ol’ USA. However, says John Willis, a favourable exchange rate with our Kiwi neighbours has restored our old ANZAC alliance. Well, in boating anyhow.




Are you ready for a big statement? In my opinion, the Rae Line 186C has to be one of the best value family sportsboats on the market.

Yep, I hate to say it, but the Kiwis are showing us Aussies a thing or two about trailerable boats. Their tough aluminium offshore fishing machines are well respected in the local market, but those across the trench know how to please deluxe sportsboat owners as well. If you need a little more protection than a bowrider, but still like to travel in style, perhaps a Rae Line 186C is for you.

This value-packed little pocket cruiser is full of sporty appeal. It hits the market without breaking the budget and offers a real alternative to those looking for a complete family all-rounder. It's not a dedicated fishing boat; it's not a dedicated skier; and it's not a dedicated cruiser - it's a boat that appeals to those that want to do a bit of everything on the water in comfort and style.

Back across the trench, Rae Line manufactures boats under license for the huge US conglomerate, Brunswick Corporation, particularly for the well-known Sea Ray range. Hence, there's an American luxury flavour to the Rae Line 186C, coupled with modern design, practical layout and premium quality.



The 186C is not a new boat. It's been manufactured for some years but is only now finding real acceptance in the Australian market. The Kiwis are putting their money where their mouths are with a lifetime structural warranty on a foam-filled hull manufactured to the stringent European "CE" quality certification Standard.

The boat's 2.3m beam provides plenty of space, even with a large drop-down back-to-back seat module on the passenger side. The helm has a single "softrider" pedestal with swivel and slide adjustment, and the upholstery and trim is exceptional.

The helm position is comfortable and all instruments are in easy reach and view of the driver, including the flush-mounted engine controls. Rae Line's Victorian dealer, M.Y. Marine, fitted this model with a Navman depthsounder, a marine radio, and a Clarion CD player with two speakers. Electronics packages are fully optional.

There's virtually no loss of vision through the solid wraparound glass windscreen and the boat jumped easily onto the plane with very little bow rise. The windscreen, which is the same unit used on the popular bowrider version of the same hull, has a centre-opening section that may be handy for letting in the breeze on sunny days. Unfortunately we didn't have much sun during our boat test. Instead, we were confronted with a small, sharp chop on a rather cold day in southern Port Phillip Bay - and this was where the 186 really showed its features.

It was nice to have the security of the half-cabin protecting us from the chilly breeze, and the hull demonstrated its dry performance when travelling head on into the slop. The Alpha One sterndrive and four-blade aluminium propeller allowed me to use infinite trim to get the best ride out of the hull, and it didn't wander around at low speed, as is the case with many of its competitors. The ride is soft and quiet on a hull that is obviously very sound.



When I opened up the throttles to really get her rocking I expected to loose my teeth - but that wasn't the case. The 186 ran clean, smooth and quiet through the chop to a top speed of 32kts (59.3kmh) at 4400rpm at wide open throttle. We only had a relatively light load with two on board but the little MerCruiser surprised me with its punch.

There are V6 options for those boaters wishing to carry large loads, or who are perhaps more ski orientated. However, I feel that some propeller experimentation might satisfy the need for extra push out of the hole if needed. The engine is actually capable of another 400 revs with a smaller prop (maximum 4800rpm) but in our case the engine, sterndrive and propeller selection were combined perfectly for general use. The standard four-blade aluminium propeller had terrific bite through acceleration and it gripped like glue in a turn without cavitation. You can expect very low fuel consumption, even with the small four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine.

For those that want to play on narrow waterways the 186C turns beautifully and confidently. Our test boat was an older model with conventional steering, however, all late model packages have power-steering as standard. The hull had no bad habits and you'd feel confident about handing over the helm to a novice.

However, if you really feel the need for speed, M.Y. Marine's Theo Rozakis told me that the same boat, fitted with a 220hp MerCruiser V6 MPI and stainless steel propeller, could attain over 47.8kts (88.4kmh).



The layout and trim quality invite you to enjoy your surroundings in comfort. The cabin has a full internal liner with bunk infills and fully lined walls and roof. The one drawback is a lack of storage in the boat; a couple of sidepockets in the cabin would help this considerably. There is, however, storage under the bunks, under the passenger seat, in the floor, as well as in the cockpit sidepockets and under the starboard rear seat.

The entry to the cabin is large and spacious and here I really liked a thoughtful and practical touch - a cushioned trim above the doorway. I've nearly been knocked unconscious on many other boats after banging my head on smallish companionways (maybe that's just my problem).

The 186 has seating for five people, with the helm, back-to-back passenger and two moulded rear seats, all beautifully upholstered and thickly cushioned. All internals are carpeted, upholstered or lined in inviting materials, making travelling or just hanging out in the Rae Line a fun experience. If blood and guts fishing is more your thing then the 186 is also available with a full fibreglass non-skid inner liner replacing the carpeted floor, twin-pedestals for more deck space, and a range of aftermarket and custom rodholders and baitboards. Fitted in this way, I wouldn't hesitate to take one out for a day's offshore fishing.

For easy access during watersport sessions the transom has a decent-sized boarding platform with a stainless steel, fold-down ladder. Our test boat was only fitted with a bimini cover but a full canopy package is available through your local dealer. Theo recommends adding a rear awning extension due to the excellent protection that it offers.

The anchoring system in the standard boat is lacking although a bolt-on bowsprit modification is available for those who want something a bit more realistic. Electric anchor winches are available but they're a bit costly when you factor in the required modifications. Access to the front of the boat is via a glass cabin hatch and a 25mm split-bowrail defines the bow section.



The manufactured quality on the 186 is superb, especially given the budget price with the small, 135hp, four-cylinder MerCruiser that seems perfect for general use. As with all things, if you want more power then you pay more for the option, and I can see younger families opting up to a thrilling V6 package if more skiing and watersports are envisaged.

This boat is a versatile package, whether it's entry-level sports, fishing, skiing or cruising. My only concern is a quote from the Rae Line website, which reads: "From the country which changed the face of the America's Cup comes an experienced boatbuilding company with a range of hi-tech, well designed boats ready for the waters of the world." Now I don't want to start an international incident here but wasn't it Australia II, owned by Alan Bond, designed by Ben Lexcen and skippered by John Bertrand - all Aussies - that changed the face of the America's Cup forever when we won it in 1983? Rae Line makes great boats but I wouldn't go so far as to say they changed the course of history.


On the plane...

Modern design with great looks

Compact yet spacious layout

Appealing to all age groups

Great fun

Very good ride and stability

Lifetime structural warranty

Very well priced


Dragging the chain...

Standard anchoring setup is lacking

Not much storage



15.7kts (29.1kmh) @ 2600rpm (on the plane)

20.7kts (38.2kmh) @ 3000rpm (comfortable cruise)

24.5kts (45.4kmh) @ 3500rpm (cutting into some bay chop)

29kts (53.6kmh) @ 4000rpm (bow trimmed down a little)

32kts (59.3kmh) @ 4400rpm (WOT and feeling great)




Specifications: Rae Line 186C




Price as tested: Approx. $48,990 (incl. Dunbier drive-on trailer)

Options fitted: Navman depthsounder/GPS, Clarion CD player, VHF, cockpit cover, bimini, registration, saltwater safety equipment for six people

Priced from: $44,990



Type: Deep-vee monohull

Material: GRP

Length (overall): 5.7m

Beam: 2.3m

Deadrise: 19°

Weight (BMT): 1500kg



Fuel: 83.3lt

Rec. max. HP: 220



Make/model: MerCruiser 3.0lt TKS 135hp four-cylinder with Alpha One sterndrive

Type: Four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated inboard

Displacement: 3.0lt

Weight (engine): 288kg

Gearbox ratio: 2:0

Propeller: Mercury four-blade aluminium 18 pitch



M.Y. Marine

Corner Nepean Highway / Ponderosa Place

Dromana, 3936, Vic

Tel: (03) 5987 0900




Rae Line Boats

620 South Eyre Road

Kaiapoi, 7692, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 312 6523




Originally published in TrailerBoat.


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