- Her stylish interior is in keeping with the popular concept that tends to dominate the industry – that of creating maximum interior space, often at the cost of extra displacement.
- … this is a typically tough Rodman with an efficient hull, whose crew will give up long before it does.
Rodman SPIRIT 42 Coupé
The SPIRIT 42 represents a change in direction for a yard previously more focused on the practical side of mid-range boating, as Greg Copp explains …
Rodman’s new SPIRIT 42 Coupé marks a threshold for this established Spanish yard. Having built a range of big flybridge craft, practical pleasure boats, tough fast fishers and even tougher military patrol vessels, the SPIRIT 42 looks somewhat un-Rodman. I mean no disrespect, however, as within moments of stepping aboard, the Rodman DNA becomes evident.
For starters, the 12in side decks are a giveaway, as are the tall, sturdy guard rails, the abundance of coachroof handrails and the chunky cleats. Walking forward to the big 1kw windlass, the cheese grater-like non-slip decking and 5in-deep toe rails would reassure the most tentative of crewmembers. Even the foredeck sun pad was tough enough not to slip an inch in the feisty conditions of the test day.
Like the bathing platform, the cockpit is an expanse of synthetic teak, with substantial steps on either side leading to the side decks. Real teak is also an option, but given the quality and maintenance-free aspect of Rodman’s counterfeit teak, I see no point in paying extra to reduce the planet’s teak reserves. Engine access is via cockpit hatches in the stern quarters. I am told that there is also the option of an additional large central cockpit hatch, as used on the SPIRIT 42 Flybridge version. This is a must, as I can’t see the logic of squeezing down the sides of the engines via the stern quarter hatches and then fumbling about over the tops of the motors to access service items. This would be even less appealing when the motors are hot, though I will say that the raw-water strainers are easily accessed outboard of each engine. One thing these quarter hatches do give you is great fender storage, which is probably what they were originally designed to do.
Entering the saloon courtesy of a sturdy full-width patio door takes you into a clinically neat contemporary world. The design is minimalistic, and everything, right down to the fridge-freezer door and the carpet, is a matching light-grey colour. Personally I would have opted for a different floor colour, as I found the experience just too grey, but it is a case of personal preference. There are different floor colour options, just as there are different hull colour options, and though the joinery is veneer, the quality of the workmanship is of a high standard. All the doors open and close with precision, and have flush catches, so there is nothing to catch your legs on during a bumpy passage.
The huge electric sunroof enables the saloon to be bathed constantly in sunlight. The GRP ceiling moulding is impressive in its fit and finish, giving a high-quality feel to the internal superstructure, which headlining panels do not. The adjustable leg and platform for the contemporary glass-topped table is a substantial affair, giving the impression that whoever conceived it also designed the machine gun turrets that Rodman fit to their fast patrol craft. The TV sitting on the cabinet opposite looks vulnerable, until you realise that its four legs are screwed down, and it took the choppy conditions of the day in its stride.
The living accommodation comprises a neat but compact galley, two cabins and two heads. Like many contemporary sports cruisers, the galley design is realistic about what people are likely to cook on this type of boat. Consequently the fridge-freezer is fairly generous, but the other facilities consist simply of a 240V double ceramic hob, a 12V microwave, a sink and under-top storage. In reality, this galley will be used for small meals, snacks and drinks in a social environment, not feeding a crew on long passages. Like the rest of the boat, the galley joinery and the worktop are precise and clinical, with a light-oak-effect floor – which would also be a good choice for the saloon floor instead of carpet.
The mid cabin sits under the helm on the starboard side, with two 6ft 1in single berths and a mid-height hanging locker. It is well lit from two portholes and has en suite access to the day heads, but standing headroom, as is often the case, is just inside the doorway. The day heads, like the master cabin en suite, is well appointed. Both have cylindrical self-contained showers, so you won’t feel the need to skulk off to the marina facilities, and both have plenty of space and 6ft 5in of headroom.
The master cabin, though far from small, does feel that it has paid a small price for the second heads compartment. The island double berth, like the mid-cabin beds, could do with a couple of extra inches. At 6ft it was OK for me, but anyone taller might find it slightly short. This cabin has plenty of stowage in the form of two full-height deep hanging lockers and under-bed drawers, and it also enjoys plenty of natural light.
One area of the boat that deserves a separate mention is the helm. It is simply too high, which I pointed out to Maria from Rodman. I was pleased to hear that Rodman are redesigning this aspect with a lower seat, and larger windows on each side. At the moment the seat gives a commanding view within the saloon, and that is about it, the reason being that the window line is too low for this elevated seating position. To see properly out of the starboard window I had to duck down very slightly, and looking through the windscreen was not ideal for me. Sitting normally, looking to port, my visibility was limited to about 15ft beyond the boat. When banked over turning to port, my port beam effectively became a full-length blind spot, which I dealt with by having a crewmember watching the port side. In contrast, the big patio door hides nothing astern. The seat needs to be shorter by about 6 to 9 in, which is realistically possible.
The dash layout on the test boat, which only had a 9in plotter and no VHF, looked bare, though it can easily accommodate a 12in, or possibly larger, display system. I was pleased to see that the IPS joystick comes as standard, a feature that has done much to encourage tentative boaters to use their boats. Ergonomics are good, with the throttles and wheel falling easily to hand.
Driving the SPIRIT 42
It was a bit surprising to find that this boat had twin 300hp Volvo IPS 400s, as I was expecting a beamy 11-tonne boat to have twin 370hp IPS 500 or even 435 hp. That said, the IPS 400 puts out an impressive 518ft/lb of torque from each engine at just 2500rpm, and proved capable of pushing the SPIRIT 42 quickly onto the plane at around 16 knots. Within moments she was running at her sweet spot cruising speed of 22 knots, which with these engines proved a comfortable and frugal speed to sit at. Pushing beyond, the boat had no problems reaching a 28.5-knot top speed, and it was a pretty choppy day. Rodman have been forerunners in the IPS revolution, embracing the concept in its early days. Consequently they have had over a decade to come to terms with the fact that a good IPS boat needs a hull designed specifically for this method of propulsion. This will go some way to explaining how they feel confident in offering this boat with an IPS 400 option.
Rodman claimed they got 29.9 knots the previous day when the weather was calmer. Nevertheless, the IPS 500 would be a better option in my opinion, and they cost £10,800 over the IPS 400. The big 5.5L D6 engine block this engine uses sticks out a whopping 650ft/lb of torque at 2000rpm, which would make better sense for this boat. These motors would be relaxed running at a 26/27-knot cruising speed, which this boat is easily capable of. You would also get a top speed of around 33 knots, but more significant would be the ability to deal with increased loading, rough weather and extra hull growth at the end of the season. At like for like cruising speeds, the IPS 500 will prove more frugal.
Running into the typically choppy Solent the day after several days of persistent winter wind, you could feel the wide beam of the SPIRIT when hitting head seas of over 25 knots. She is no rakish deep-vee boat, but her fore section is capable of dealing with a fair degree of punishment, helped by the fact that Rodman construct their boats to be abused. Her natural fore and aft trim is very good. Some IPS boats can have a bow-up attitude, but the SPIRIT 42 does not have this problem. Trim tabs are an option that this boat did not have fitted – because it does not really need them. Even with a 15- to
20-knot wind on the beam I did not notice the boat leaning into the wind. Banked over, you feel the boat’s 14ft beam, and apart from being aware of her chine sections slapping against the sharp chop, the boat feels very stable. Her angle of list during full-power full-lock turns is reassuringly sensible – there is no chance of losing the plot if you overcook it. There is a degree of steering resistance as you turn the wheel to the limit, produced by the chines digging in. She is no sluggard in the turns, but I have driven comparable stern-driven boats that steered more quickly – but then that is not what the SPIRIT 42 is about.
The SPIRIT 42 is a stylish boat whose contemporary lines and steep bow mark an interesting change in direction for the Rodman yard. Her stylish interior is in keeping with the popular concept that tends to dominate the industry – that of creating maximum interior space, often at the cost of extra displacement. As usual there is a fairly long extras list. Nevertheless, this is a typically tough Rodman with an efficient hull, whose crew will give up long before it does.
Fuel Consumption (both engines – Volvo fuel flow meter)
Engine speed GPH Knots MPG Sound level (db at helm)
1000rpm 1.5 7.0 4.7 69
1500rpm 3.7 8.4 2.3 71
2000rpm 7.7 10.3 1.3 73
2500rpm 12.6 15.4 1.2 77
3000rpm 17.2 21.8 1.3 79
3500rpm 22.2 27.6 1.2 82
3630rpm (WOT) 25.3 28.5 1.1 87
LOA: 12.35m (40ft 8in)
Beam: 4.24m (14ft)
Transom deadrise angle: 14 degrees
Displacement: 11,000kg (dry)
Power options: Twin 300hp Volvo IPS 400 or twin 370hp Volvo IPS 500
Fuel capacity: 1150 litres (153 gallons)
RCD category: B for 12
Test engines: Twin 300hp Volvo IPS 400
28.5 knots (2-way average), sea conditions F4, gusting F5
From: £366,000 (inc. VAT)
As tested: £382,746 (inc. VAT)
RBS Marine Ltd
Birdham Pool Marina
West Sussex PO20 7BG
Photo credits: Graeme Main