Greg Copp sets out to discover whether Ring’s reputation for producing high-quality offshore powerboats has been maintained with their latest offering, the Ranger 25 …
If you have a taste for fast offshore boats, you will be familiar with the name Ring. Established by powerboat racer Mike Ring in 1968, Rings would soon be setting records, often in the hands of Mike himself. They became renowned for high-speed rough-weather handling, and durability. Through the evolutionary process of trial and error that the then newly evolving boat industry was grappling with, this brand was soon establishing its range in the leisure and commercial sectors.
Wind forward half a century, and with Mike Ring now involved in the design department of what is now Ring Powercraft, this brand name is still doing what it does best ‒ building bulletproof all-weather fast boats. The Ring Ranger 25 Vengeance, to use its full name, is based on the deep-vee multi-chine hull of the classic and still current Ring 25. It is, however, very different, as it has no long foredeck housing a low two-berth cuddy. Consequently it looks bigger and is hugely practical, with a lot of attention paid to simple details. Like many modern sports boats, it is designed on a principle that the motor industry learnt years ago: something fast and exciting still has to have a domestic twist. The most obvious slant in this area is the head, and a damn good one it is. Often I have come across open boats with big price tags that have toilet doors that spring open on a rough day. Not so with the Ranger, as the two sturdy recessed door catches stay shut when required, opening to reveal a deep head compartment with a flushing toilet and a sink that an adult male can comfortably use.
On a sunny day, the forward seating area converts to a sunbed with its infill, or alternatively a hydraulic pedestal raises a table to create a dining area for four. The deep forward anchor on our test boat was empty insomuch as it lacked the optional windlass, which is a bit of a shame as you would expect such a high-spec 25-footer to have it as standard. Even so, there is plenty of space to house more anchor chain than you are likely to need. The powder-coated black stainless guard rails have absolutely zero flex, which is in keeping with the overall bulletproof construction of the boat. The T-top is an extra but one that you are unlikely to ignore. Housed within a sturdy frame, the canvas Webasto roof is electronically controlled, though if you wish you can opt for a fixed T-top. All decking is spongy soft synthetic SeaDek, all the way down and around the splash well, so nobody climbing back on board from the bathing platforms will bash their knees on GRP.
For a 25ft boat, the console is an impressive feature. It is large but does not really appear so until you sit behind it. No weather gets past it, though its height slightly restricts your forward view when climbing onto the plane. The side decks suffer slightly for its width, but this is a price worth paying as it enables three 12in Garmin displays to sit abreast, taking care of all your needs. This may seem like overkill, but Garmin have created a custom screen display specifically for the Ranger, which is located on the central screen and controls all systems. The EmpirBus digital switching system controls the sunroof, all lighting and even the engine jack plates. You do need to take a moment to absorb this information overload before casting off, however.
The Ranger uses SHOCK-WBV C-series seat suspension units, which are designed for commercial use on craft from 20 to 300 ft. Built to deal with moderate sea states up to 50 knots, they have a proven track record. Manufactured from aluminium tooling plate, the strongest form of aluminium with the tightest tolerances, these units are both strong and light. Built to fit on OEM seat bases, they are a lot cheaper than complete aftermarket suspension seats, while enabling continuity in style and upholstery with the aft bench seating. Further details are available at www.shock-wbv.com.
The aft bench seating may look like a luxury triple bucket seat, but it houses a hidden component: SKYDEX shock mitigating seat inserts. SKYDEX are a high-performance technology company that develops and manufactures customised cushioning seating solutions, using polymer structures for cushioning and impact absorption. This technology has been used for purposes ranging from the construction of running shoes to military blast protection. In simplistic terms, the internals of the Ranger aft seating do not load up and compress fully from the weight of the occupants; there is always some ‘impact compression space’ left in reserve for a rough sea. Further details can be found at www.shockmitigation.com.
Driving the Ring Ranger
The first thing that strikes you about this boat when you come to drive it is how hard it is to simply get into the helm seat. I was told that the test boat has the non-bolster helm seats, and that you can have flip-up bolster seats if you want. This is a must, as apart from there being no room whatsoever to stand, even thin people have to breathe in to squeeze past the wheel. The seats can adjust back, but only slightly. If you were single-crewed and wanted to get out and do your lines in a hurry, you would be pushed. Also, your proximity to the very ‘Gucci’ Livorsi race throttle is a bit close for my liking, as when I was in the navigator’s seat I caught the throttle twice when getting out of the seat.
All this having been said, when you are ensconced in the driving seat the ergonomics are very good. The beautifully crafted Carbonautica monocoque carbon-fibre steering wheel is adjustable and so comes easily to hand, as do the Livorsi race controls. You can easily get to grips with the touch screen displays or the remote keypad control, which is crucial when using the displays on a rough day with wet weather.
I should point out that as this boat had just been launched there had been no time for prop testing. The end result was that this boat was ‘overpropped’ and could not reach its maximum engine speed of 7000rpm. It also meant it was slower off the mark than it should have been, and more frugal at the point it starts to produce max torque – around 4000rpm. Nevertheless, it still drives like a missile. It picks up and is off in a brace of shakes, and with the electronically controlled jack plate taking its orders from the touch screen control, you can easily fettle it to squeeze out those last top-end knots. In our case, this was 50 knots, but I am told it should reach just over 60 – which I do not doubt.
We had a flat day, which was exactly what we did not want, as the multi-chine Ring hull is famed for its rough-weather handling. Though I have never had the chance to find out, I am told that the harder you drive them in the rough, the softer they ride, and they are very composed in a big following sea. The odd bit of sharp wake we managed to find did not make itself felt through the SHOCK-WBV seats. What did impress me was its ability to turn. The steering is superb ‒ perfectly balanced, responsive and without the slightest hint of overreaction. This boat can also cut incredibly tight turns, tighter than any other 25-footer I can recall. In doing so, it heels at an incredible angle, no doubt enhanced by the weight of the boat’s T-top. Regardless of how hard you nail the throttle, you can’t get a hint of hull slide.
Verdict on the Ring Ranger 25
The Ranger is an extremely solidly built boat, coming from a stable that builds numerous craft for military and commercial use. Consequently it is laid up in a manner, and with the materials needed, to comply with a variety of standards, not least Lloyd’s. This does get reflected in the cost, but a big chunk of this is the 400hp Verado. I will say that I feel that a smaller engine would spoil its character slightly, and while these engines are still available (the more expensive 450hp Verado will soon replace it), buying one sooner rather than later could make sense.
What we thought
- Granite-like build quality
- Superbly quick and precise steering
- Attention to detail
- Crew security
- Finish and upholstery
- Quick off the mark – even overpropped
- Very good weather protection
- Large head
- The test boat had non-bolster seats – no room to stand, and hard to get in and out of
- Long extras list to spec to a realistic standard
Fuel figures (Mercury fuel flow meter)
- RPM Speed (knots) LPH NMPG
- 2000 7.3 13.7 2.4
- 2500 7.8 20.5 1.7
- 3000 11.1 28.5 1.8
- 3500 20.3 33.7 2.7
- 4000 29.1 48.1 2.7
- 4500 35.8 63.1 2.6
- 5000 41.1 90.0 2.1
- 5500 46.7 125.0 1.7
- 6000 (WOT) 50.4 133.5 1.7
- LOA: 8.1m[SB1]
- Beam: 2.43m
- Hull: Deep-vee non-stepped multi-chine
- Displacement: 2315kg (dry lightship – no engine)
- Power options: From single 200hp outboard (any brand) to single 450hp Mercury Verado
- Fuel capacity: 270L (optional 400L tank)
- RCD category: C or B if required
- Test engines: Single 400hp Mercury Verado outboard
- 50.4 knots (2-way average), sea conditions moderate, crew 3, fuel 70%
- 0–40 knots: 8 seconds
From: £88,236 (inc. VAT) (225hp Mercury v6)
As tested: £167,082 (inc. VAT)
Unit 1, Chichester Harbour Marine Park, Itchenor, West Sussex PO20 7AY