The 31's unique transom is certainly eye-catching, but how does the rest of the boat compare?
The new Spirit range from Rodman kicks off with this 31, with 12.8m (42ft) and 11m (36ft) versions in the pipeline for next year. The new line-up is meant to provide a more luxurious alternative to Rodman’s sportsfisher range, which have proved popular as general-purpose cruisers. So what can these boats offer that sportsfishers can’t?
Rodman has entrusted the design of its Spirit range to Fulvio de Simoni, who is the very same guy responsible for the plush Muse line-up. And, as well as the initial trio of sedan models, there will also be open sportscruiser and flybridge versions too. Kicking off with the smallest can’t have been easy as the yard laid another constraint on Simoni’s plate – the hull length had to come in at under 8m (26ft) because in Spain boats above this length fall into a heftier belt of tax.
The design team got around this by creating a length-cheating 4ft extension to the transom that carries the bulk of the cockpit. Some ingenious arcs of seating can be shunted around on tracks, allowing the transom to open up and form a huge bathing platform with the seats arranged to face each other.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a 26ft hull, and even though there has been an attempt to recover some internal space by giving the boat a very broad bow, the accommodation still feels sub-30ft. This isn’t helped by Rodman’s choice of power – the shaftdrive set-up encroaching into the midship’s region, where a sterndrive or even a V-drive would leave more space to play with.
That said, the 31 has two separate sleeping quarters – a forecabin with an offset double and a lobby area that has a single berth tucked down its port side. The toilet compartment opposite is adequate in size and rather than the usual mouldings there is stained oak joinery, which gives things a lift. The sideboard-style galley looks sleek, clean and modern and in proper Rodman style the joinery seems fairly solid even if it looks a bit lightweight.
The Spirit’s bluff bow and 26ft hull length gave us a slight cause for concern when we first clapped eyes on it – was there a danger it would be wet, clunky and get pushed around like a boat in its mid-20s rather than early 30s? Our spin around the Solent from Chichester to Southampton proved we were wrong on all counts. OK, so there wasn’t much wind but if spray was going to find its way aboard it would have done and the ride was commendably easy and smooth
Rodman has always built strong boats and this is no exception, even though the yard is clearly trying to steal a march on its competitors by keeping a tight rein on the purse strings.