Arrive at Cantiere Nautico Portegrandi, the Venetian shipyard responsible for building the Levi 8.5m RIB, and you won’t be welcomed into a marble and leather lined reception area.
You will be ushered into a small wooden cabin and offered an espresso in a plastic up that will knock your socks off. Next you will be shown the storage facility, providing shelter for all sorts of Italian exotica including a pair of original Riva Aquaramas shrouded in Riva branded dust sheets.
Your tour guide will be the enigmatic shipyard owner Gilberto Crosera, who wears his overalls as comfortably as he does his impressive sideburns and proudly points out the tree trunk by the front gates from which the interior timber is transformed from felled tree to gloriously varnished cabinetry.
This is a proper shipyard, run by craftsmen who build three maybe four boats a year and generally spend around 1,200 man hours lovingly constructing their most famous export, the Levi Corsair. They have one in the boat shed as it happens, weeks away from completion, but as attractive as it is it’s not what we’re here for. No, we’ve come to test Levi’s new RIB.
Mating a Renato ‘Sonny’ Levi hull – widely credited as the godfather of the deep-vee hull shape – to the body of a RIB seems, on paper, to be a match made in heaven. We are about to find out if this is the case in the sort of weather that would lay down a serious challenge to any RIB: spots of rain, high winds and big seas.
Though it is a less complex craft than the Corsair it still takes the yard 800 painstaking hours to build. The hull is a resin infused sandwich construction with a 20mm foam core beneath the engine and forward sections and 40mm in between.
The deadrise angle at the transom is a blade-like 25 degrees and its slender form carries all the way forward to the pert bow. There is not a step to be seen and no complicated trickery either, but a hull designed with a racer’s eye and built to extraordinarily high standards.
Read the full report in the June 2018 issue of MBY.