Home BOAT TESTS Rodman 890 Ventura
Rodman 890 Ventura

Rodman 890 Ventura

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  • It is broad, open and bright, with uninhibited views, ample sleeping spaces and enormous storage capacity.
  • this fledgling outboard model has the potential to bring a fresh and welcome new breadth of recreational application to the established Rodman fleet.

Alex Smith heads for Portsmouth to test Rodman’s first ever outboard-powered leisure boat.

Over the years, Rodman have made their name by inhabiting a very clearly defined niche. Notwithstanding their svelte and sophisticated ‘Muse’ and ‘Spirit’ product lines, they are synonymous with the kinds of robust inboard-powered fishers demanded by the Atlantic swells in the regions of northern Spain they call home. That solidity of construction is reinforced by a class-leading 10-year structural warranty and internal designs that reflect the company’s rigorous respect for fishing practicalities. However, having made its debut at the 2016 London Boat Show, the 890 Ventura is a first for Rodman in several ways – not least in its unprecedented use of outboard engines.


Big, Broad & Bright

The basic layout of the new Rodman is very much in line with that of the established fisher fleet. It involves an open aft cockpit, a central wheelhouse and walk-around side decks that extend right forward, orbiting the coachroof mouldings and meeting at the rail-assisted step-through bow. Back aft, the broad three-part sliding door does a good job of integrating the internal saloon with the external cockpit, and the door at the helm is a similarly handy feature for skippers who are keen on remaining part of the outdoor action. This particular feature is a first for Rodman and it’s a very welcome development indeed, but what’s even more interesting is the fact that the internal main deck space is so seamlessly integrated with the lower accommodation. There are no doors, curtains or moulded partitions at all – just a wide-open aperture that looks down to the master berth and the compact port lounge seat. This open-plan arrangement is quite a commonplace Rodman design feature, but while it certainly improves the natural light down below, the lack of privacy might not be to everyone’s tastes.

Step down below and while the headroom feels a touch tight for anyone of 6 feet or more, the generosity of the lateral space is impressive. The diagonal main berth gives way to an enclosed starboard heads compartment and a port section with a compact seat and really free and easy access to a large transverse guest double beneath the saloon. There’s no window in the second berth, either via the hull or the cockpit (where the lofty seat moulding would make the inclusion of one perfectly simple), but again, because the flow of space is so open, with broad apertures and a conspicuous absence of partitions, the light is peculiarly good, even in the guest double.

Back up in the saloon, you get a very simple arrangement, with a two-man dining station to port and a compact galley behind the helm to starboard. However, it’s not perfect: there’s no cover for the galley when it’s not in use, and as you make your way fore and aft, you can easily find your thigh hitting the buttons of the flush-fit microwave; there’s no blind to eliminate glare from the rather compact overhead sunroof; and while the storage space beneath the expansive cockpit sole is huge, it could do with liners to help cordon off your baggage from the various tanks and pipes.


Hamstrung Heroics

The 890 Ventura uses a modified version of the 810 hull, with a pair of extra spray rails that are shorter in length in order to grant the cleanest possible flow of water to the props. When you get underway, the transition to the plane is certainly very quick for a boat of this kind, and if you set your pace at a moderate cruise of 24 or 25 knots in relatively calm water, the Ventura displays some attractive cruising traits. Running flat with some generous trim, the visibility from the helm is extremely good, and with a fuel flow rate of about 42 litres per hour, you can expect a range from the standard 400-litre fuel tank in excess of 200 nautical miles. It is also noticeable that despite the absence of trim tabs in the standard package (and some very good headroom in the wheelhouse), the windage on the 890 Ventura feels remarkably modest, even in some challenging winds.

However, it’s not all good news. For a start, there’s no helm adjustment, either for the seat or the wheel, and as you pick your way through a sea state, this can lead to considerable ache in your right thigh as you plant it hard against the deck to steady yourself. But of greater significance is the fact that it feels as though the Ventura is suffering from imperfect weight distribution. During testing, with the sea and the wind on our port bow, the wetness of the ride was very striking – and as we turned and throttled on, with the elements now to starboard, the helmsman and his seating unit were soaked by water ingress through the sliding door. We gave it a very fair chance by varying the pace and the angles of attack, but with that bow-heavy ride ploughing up the swells, washing off the pace and flinging water inboard against the screen and into the cockpit, this showed itself to be an indisputably wet boat.

We attempted to remedy this apparent propensity to ditch the nose by trimming out and actively altering the Ventura’s attitude. It worked pretty well at sensible cruising speeds, but it only took a brief moment of easing the throttles back and the drive became awkward and we had to begin the process all over again. According to RBS Marine, this boat has previously achieved 39 knots at 6100rpm with a pair of four-blade 15″ props on each of those Suzuki DF200s. However, in these seas (which were a little steep and messy but no more than moderate), we were unable to go beyond 32 knots at 5000rpm without getting well out of shape, so we were compelled to abort our collection of performance data and err on the side of common sense.

To put this all into perspective, our chase boat and photo platform for the day was the long-established inboard model, the 870 – and despite the inclusion of a flybridge, this inboard craft was entirely unruffled by the conditions, regardless of the throttle setting or the angle of approach. In fairness, the extra weight was useful and the more modest pace was also a pertinent factor, but the simple correctness of the weight distribution, the running attitude and the ride quality was a very clear object lesson in what the new Ventura outboard model currently lacks and what it still needs to achieve in order to match the easy seagoing performance of its stablemates.


Passenger Practicalities

While the engine noise is commendably muted with the doors open and virtually non-existent with them closed, rattles from some of the fixtures and fittings do make the ride quite noisy. In particular, we’re talking about the saloon table, which rotates freely on its base to collide with the side mouldings, and the rigid, galley-top hatch that shifts around in its recessed housing. The fact that the table is quite flimsily installed also renders it imperfect as a steadying point underway, and that’s emphasised by the absence of handles elsewhere. There are none on the back of the helm seat, none on the sides of the port seating and none on the starboard galley top to help steady the standing passenger – and when you step outside, the dearth of grab rails is equally pronounced. There’s one on each side at the aft end of the wheelhouse to introduce you to the lateral walkways, and the side rails have also been extended further aft. However, there are no grab handles at all in the cockpit itself, and more remarkably still, none on the wheelhouse roof to assist those attempting to head fore and aft.


Verdict

If you compare this boat to its traditional inboard siblings, it is plain that it makes very good use of the space freed up by its outboard engines. It is broad, open and bright, with uninhibited views, ample sleeping spaces and enormous storage capacity. There is certainly still work to be done on prop choice and weight distribution before the ride clicks into focus, and there are also areas where tweaks to the features and finish are required in order to optimise its various merits. However, despite its early teething troubles, there is no doubt that this fledgling outboard model has the potential to bring a fresh and welcome new breadth of recreational application to the established Rodman fleet.


For

  • Big second berth
  • Huge under-deck storage
  • Extended cruising range
  • Bright natural light
  • Good visibility
  • Sleeping for five

Against

  • Wet ride
  • Slipping props
  • Bow-heavy attitude
  • No helm adjustment
  • Rattles underway
  • Inadequate grab rail provision

Performance

RPM Speed Fuel flow Range

  • 500 2.6 2.8 334.3
  • 1000 3.1 5.0 223.2
  • 1500 4.9 9.2 191.7
  • 2000 6.3 14.6 155.3
  • 2500 8.5 21.6 141.7
  • 3000 13.1 27.6 170.9
  • 3500 19.4 37.6 185.7
  • 4000 24.4 46.2 190.1
  • 4500 29.0 58.6 178.2
  • 5000 32.2 74.4 155.8
  • 5500 Aborted Aborted Aborted
  • 6000 Aborted Aborted Aborted

Specifications

  • LOA: 8.9m
  • Beam: 2.98m
  • Weight: 2900kg
  • Fuel capacity: 400 litres
  • People capacity: 10
  • Berths: 4 + 1
  • Power: 300–400 hp
  • Engines: Twin Suzuki DF200s

Price

From £108,250

As tested: £123,735


Contact

www.rbsmarine.com