MBY editor Hugo Andreae takes us on a tour of Williams Jet Tenders to find out how they can produce 1,200 boats per year, and then takes a test drive of the new Williams EvoJet 70...
They say you always remember your first kiss, presumably because it leaves such a lasting impression. I reckon the same holds true for your first drive of a Williams Jet Tender. They are so small, so light, so nimble, so insanely quick yet forgiving that the sheer intensity of the experience sears itself into your memory.
I can still remember mine as if it were yesterday; it was quite a choppy day in Poole harbour and I drove that poor little Turbojet so hard, leaping over waves, hurling it into spin turns and high-speed crash stops that I ended up hurting my own back.
I’m quite a lot older and a little bit wiser these days, but I still get a flicker of anticipation every time I drive a new Williams. I’m not the only one to have done a bit of growing up in the intervening years; from a young company offering a single 3.25m model, Williams Jet Tenders has grown into the UK’s most prolific boat builder, churning out 1,200 craft a year with a 17-strong range and over 140 employees.
It’s a huge success story based on the continuous evolution of a single clever idea: to build a waterjet-powered mini-RIB perfectly suited to tender duties. With no exposed propeller to worry about, compact dimensions for easy stowage, a shallow draft for beaching, soft tubes for coming alongside and a clever layout that maximises passenger capacity, every Williams is as practical as it is fun.
The formula has proved so successful that many of the world’s biggest boat builders (Sunseeker and Princess Yachts included) now design their tender garages specifically to fit a particular Williams model.
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However, its latest model takes things to a whole new level in terms of size, expense and sophistication. The Evojet 70 is Williams’ largest model to date, measuring 23ft 3in long, weighing over two tonnes and costing around £200,000 inc VAT.
Clearly this isn’t going to fit in the tender garage of anything less than a 40m superyacht so everything about it needs to match the sky-high expectations which superyacht owners and their captains demand.
So the big question isn’t just whether Williams can hack it at this level but whether in trying to mix it with the big boys, it has lost a little of the magic that makes its smaller boats so much fun.
Read Hugo’s full review of the Williams EvoJet 70 in the August 2023 issue of MBY, which is out now.
Williams EvoJet 70 specifications
LOA: 23’3” / 7.1m
Beam: 8’6″ / 2.65m
Displacement (light): 2,000kg / 4,410lbs
Air draft (T-Top folded): 4ft 9in / 1.45m
Engine: 250hp Yanmar 4LV
Fuel capacity: 200L / 52 US gal
Top speed: 39 knots / 45mph
Starting price: £168,000 (ex. VAT)