whit00.jpg whit00.jpg
whit02.jpg whit02.jpg
whit03.jpg whit03.jpg

Whittley's CR2080 and CR2180 cruisers have been relaunched to celebrate the life of founding father Jim Whittley.

Whittley CR2080


Jim Whittley, the founder of Australia's Whittley boatbuilding dynasty, sadly passed away last year. However, the family tradition lives on, and to celebrate the life of the family patriarch, who together with brother Ossie first began building boats in 1953, Whittley has released limited edition "tribute" versions of its CR2080 and CR2180 cruisers. To this end, the manufacturer and dealers have dropped their margins and repackaged the boats to offer a pair of value-packed pocket rockets that hit all the right notes.

TrailerBoat's Bernard Clancy took the Whittley CR2080 for a run when it was released back in July of 2009, and he was impressed with what he found. "I'm still astonished by how Whittley can squeeze so much into a 5.5m hull and still retain so much open space, especially in the cockpit," he wrote at the time. "There doesn't appear to be a cubic centimetre that doesn't have a use, and a practical one at that," he added.

I can only agree. This compact cruiser has all the traditional bells and whistles of a classy overnighter, but it also has plenty of cockpit and cabin space for loads of fun on the water. It's a modern design with a classy finish and an exceptional layout that should appeal to everyone.


I recently got to sample both the CR2080 and the CR2180 on the Goulburn River at Nagambie, in Victoria's picturesque Goulburn Valley.

I should mention that I used to sell Whittley boats back in the early '90s, and my perception of Whittley products has changed in the years since. Whittley always delivered beautiful-looking packages but they were often let down by their roughwater performance. Since then, the Whittley design team has taken some big steps to eliminate these issues by using the latest in CAD design techniques, and incorporating some cutting-edge technology to deliver refined packages now entirely suitable for multi-purpose boating.

The CR2080 is 6.13m long (LOA), and you could be forgiven for thinking it's been made to replace the older but extremely popular Monterey. In actual fact, it was developed more as the new Voyager or Impala, the Monterey's very successful little brothers. While those older offerings were state-of-the-art some 20 years ago, I always thought their internal layout seemed a little poky. That's not the case with the new models - like Bernard, I simply can't see how you could hope to fit more into a boat while retaining such a roomy, user-friendly layout.

The CR2080 is available in both outboard and sterndrive formats. Our test boat was fitted with the MerCruiser 3.0lt, four-cylinder sterndrive with an Alpha 1 leg, and with 130hp, it delivered satisfying, even surprising performance. With a 19° deadrise and a 2.2m beam, the hull provided a good amount of lift. It actually looks and feels wider than 2.2m, and with three passengers onboard it reached a comfortable top-end speed of around 34kts (63kmh) at 4800rpm. It's a little noisy at WOT (wide open throttle) but that shouldn't be a problem unless plenty of family skiing is on the agenda.


While I'm calling my recent trip to Nagambie a boat test, it was actually more of a great day out with top company, doing exactly what these boats were designed for - cruising in style!

The larger CR2180 accompanied us on our river sojourn to the nearby Tahbilk Winery. This model is only slightly larger than the CR2080 - it has an LOA of 6.16m and a 2.3m beam - but the difference is quite noticeable. The CR2180 was fitted with the Volvo Penta 3.0lt (3.0GL) donk with an SX sterndrive unit. Its power and performance is impressive, and the package handled beautifully both through turns and running over wakes on the river. However, it too was surprisingly noisy at high revs.

Pleasingly though, the noise factor at fast engine speeds was about my only criticism of both boats, other than a slight bow rise as the hull lifts out of the water and onto the plane at around 3000rpm. I imagine trim tabs would be worthwhile additions to stabilise the load and offset wind and weight. They would also give a slightly lower planing speed for cruising, but we certainly had no need for them on the Goulburn River or Lake Nagambie.

Both these Jim Whittley tributes are easy on the eye. They have beautiful modern lines and functional mouldings that integrate seamlessly with the overall package. The standard high quality Whittley finish, combined with simple but stylish graphics, completes the picture.

The moulded bowsprit retains the plough anchor and electric anchor winches are available as an option. Access to the bow is quite reasonable and there's a separate rope locker to keep wet and muddy rodes away from the plush cabin interiors.

Like all Whittley cruisers, the exterior may look the goods but it's the interior that makes the boat. They present an inviting blend of polar white gelcoat on the internal mouldings, accented with soft, plush cabin upholstery and a quality head lining, plus thick marine carpets and premium, thickly-padded seating and trim. The emphasis on black and white is complemented by fawn and grey accents. Overall, these cabins are both comfortable and inviting.

Each has all the usual niceties such as a sink, stove, hot water system and a very practical V-berth with fold-up infill. An LCD TV with DVD player combines with thumping Fusion boom boxes to round out the electronic entertainment options.

The helm position is reasonably comfortable, with the upright seating position affording excellent visibility for this style of cruiser. The full set of analogue engine gauges are easy to read and you don't have to be a computer geek to harness all the various instrument functions. Everything is in the right place and the cosmetic presentation is first class. I also liked the safety glass windscreens which are formed into the moulding, rather than simply being bolt-on extras. Personally, however, I'd opt for a flush-mounted depthsounder / GPS / chartplotter combo, no matter what sort of activity is on the agenda - I felt naked without it (thanks, now I can't get the thought of a stark naked John Willis out of my mind - Ed).


The combination seat boxes are nothing short of state-of-the-art. They house the sink under the driver's seat and the optional stove unit under the passenger's seat. They also provide footrests and storage. Neither boat has a full passenger bulkhead; in its place the CR2180 has a recess for a portable cooler at the end of the V-berth, while the CR2080 has a larger return on the dashboard with grabrail, enclosed dash area and a handy cargo-net-style storage pouch. The Porta-Potti is nicely hidden behind the driver's bulkhead and enclosed under the seat. There's good headroom (pardon the pun!) and a standard privacy curtain.

At the stern of these sterndrive models, we find a pair of removable rear quarter seats that give way to the full-width boarding platform. Whittley has also developed an optional extended swim platform with a stainless frame for rodholders, a baitboard or a barbeque. The combination of practical seating, plug-in tables, convertible seat modules, and plenty of storage leaves an open and uncluttered entertaining area in the cockpit, covered by a matching set of bimini-style full camper covers, also standard.

One of the key differences between the two models is that the CR2180 has full walkaround sidedecks, which are handy when mooring and also eliminate the need to tramp mud and sand through the cabin when entering via the bow. Up front the CR2180 gives you and your family loads more room to spread out, and perhaps watch a DVD on the Fusion TV.

Both boats are set up as trailerable camping boats that are ready for an extended weekend on the water. Come to think of it, they don't make a bad caravan for overnighting on your way to distant trailerboat locations.

Perhaps I'm saving the best for last in mentioning the pricing of these boats. Back in 1994 I was selling fully-fitted Monterey cruisers for $42,990 with the four-cylinder engine, or $47,990 with the V6. Today Whittley is offering the CR2080 on a dual-axle Mackay trailer for a recommended retail price of $49,990 (excluding dealer and statutory costs), while the CR2180 - with the larger 200hp V6 - has a recommended retail price of $62,599.

These two limited edition models are both eminently fitting tributes to the late Jim Whittley, who was a pioneering father of trailerable cruising boats in this country. Although modern and sleek, the CR2080 and CR2180 follow in the footsteps of Jim's first cruiser, a wooden 18-footer built back in the early '50s. The shapes, styles and materials may have changed, but I'm pleased to see that Jim's commitment to building quality family cruisers still lives on in every Whittley boat.


On the plane...

All the bells and whistles
Spacious layouts
Attractive inside and out
Surprising performance
Great value for money

Dragging the chain...

Noisy at high speed
Backrest mounts a little fiddly
Slight bow rise on takeoff



Tribute CR2180 Cruiser with 3.0lt Volvo Penta and SX sterndrive
14kts (25.9kmh) @ 3100rpm (planing)
18kts (33.3kmh) @ 3200rpm (sits much better)
20kts (37.0kmh) @ 3500rpm (up and running well)
25kts (46.3kmh) @ 4000rpm (satisfying speed, no need to go any faster)
30kts (55.6kmh) @ 4600rpm (a bit noisy and floaty at WOT- but who goes this fast in a cruiser?)

Tribute CR2080 Cruiser with 3.0lt MerCruiser and Alpha 1 sterndrive
19kts (35.2kmh) @ 3100rpm (planing)
24kts (44.4kmh) @ 3800rpm (feels great)
28kts (51.9kmh) @ 4000rpm (let's go skiing!)
34kts (63.0kmh) @ 4800rpm (WOT)



Specifications: WHITTLEY 2180



Price as tested: $59,999 with dual-axle Mackay trailer and 135hp Volvo Penta 3.0GL sterndrive excl. dealer / statutory costs ($62,599 with V6 200hp Volvo Penta Volvo 4.3Gi-200-R)



Type: Moderate-vee cruiser
Material: Fibreglass
Length: 6.16m
Beam: 2.33m
Weight: 920kg (standard boat weight configuration)
Deadrise: 19°



People: 6
Rec. HP: 200
Max. HP: 200
Fuel: 112lt



Make/model: Volvo Penta 3.0GL
Type: Naturally-aspirated, four-cylinder, 135hp four-stroke
Weight: 288kg (with VP SX drive)
Displacement: 3.0lt
Gear ratio: 1.97
Propeller: Alloy



JV Marine World, Vic
Tel: (03) 9798 8883



Whittley Marine Group
99 Freight Drive
Somerton, Vic, 3062
Tel: (03) 8339 1800


Originally published in TrailerBoat #270. 


Find Whittley boats for sale.


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.