Rayglass Legend 2200

By: Jeff Strang, Photography by: Matthew Jones and Jeff Strang

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Ask an All Black what the hardest thing about being an All Black is and they will all tell you the same thing: living up to the "legend". I suspect Rayglass boats suffer a similar issue – it's a nice problem to have…

Rayglass Legend 2200
Rayglass Legend 2200

Weather conditions

Wind speed        10 knots NW

Sea state             Building towards moderate

As a professional boat reviewer, it is always a pleasure to know that the subject of your attentions is likely to set the bar high. I have been on many great hulls from the Rayglass stable, and knew more or less what to expect. The Rayglass Legend 2200 has already had its fair share of fanfare and I was looking forward to seeing if, like a new All Black loose forward, it would live up to the hype.

For those new to boating, Rayglass Boats is one of the true New Zealand entrepreneurial success stories. In 1987, Tony Hembrow took over the then struggling company and built it up to the market-leading position it now enjoys. His hands-on Kiwi battler approach was made famous by a series of television ads highlighting the fact that he and his wife lived on-site during those early years of hard graft.

The company is now fully owned by marine industry global giant Brunswick. The buyout was completed in 2007 and it is considered one of the parent company's stand-out performers. To put that in perspective, the parent company also has industry heavyweights like Boston Whaler, Mercury Marine and Hatteras Yachts in its portfolio. Much of Rayglass' success comes down to its hugely popular inflatable Protector range, so favoured by America's Cup syndicates, but regardless, the Legend range is well on its way to becoming the quintessential Kiwi family day boat.

Pushing the boundaries

One of the things I particularly like about Rayglass is that it is not scared to push the envelope on the designer's table. Whereas many of its competitors merely stuck to a formula throughout the range, simply increasing or decreasing the dimensions, Rayglass – brave enough to innovate wherever possible – back themselves using a combination of previous, proven achievements and experimental innovations to deliver commercially successful results that people like myself love to talk about.

The Legend 2200 is a prime example of that ethos. Looking at it on the showroom floor and even with a quick glance inside, the boat is unmistakeably a Rayglass Legend. Take a closer look and you'll see subtle and not so subtle changes, making it clear the design team has not stopped thinking outside the box.

The accolades the boat received at this year's Hutchwilco Boat Show prove my point; the hull itself won "All Purpose 6-7m Boat of the Show", while its groundbreaking internal rod locker took out the "Aquatech Marine Most Innovative Local Product" award. For the icing on the cake, the company also took out the "Quick Nautical Equipment Most Innovative Stand" prize, with the fully-moulded fibreglass presentation of the boat "flying" onto a pedestal.

At the boat ramp

Grabbing as early a start as possible is the key to successful boat reviews, and I was pretty delighted to arrive the arranged venue to find Rayglass sales and marketing manager Scott Little waiting with the 2200 already launched and ready to go. Scotty is always a delight to deal with: his passion for the product speaks for itself, and in 25 years, it has shown no evidence of waning.

The boat itself was presented as the baseline for Rayglass' optional fit-out, and the 200hp Mercury Verado strapped to the transom is almost at the bottom of its recommended horsepower range. Often we test boats at the other end of the spectrum, which is fun but even at its most basic this Legend was much better appointed than many fully-optioned vessels we see.

I find the lines of the Legend series remind me of the sort of thing Jaguar might enter into the V8 Supercars: clearly aerodynamic and powerful but still understated. Fully-moulded details and wide radius' are everywhere you look. Enclosed anchor lockers are nothing new but Rayglass just seems to do it better, and this one covers a Maxwell RC8 high-speed windlass. The teak trim on the combings breaks up the expanses of gleaming white fibreglass nicely, and there is just the right amount of perfectly finished stainless.

The front cabin is fully upholstered with long bunks that convert to a double exactly as you would expect. This space can be closed off from elements during the day or when in storage by a tidy button-down canvas cover. Of course a toilet is standard (TBC). All the lighting in forward cabin and throughout the rest of the boat is provided by energy saving LEDs and the soft-touch switching is a pleasant extra.

Speaking of storage

I think I can confidently say that the Rayglass Legend 2200 has the most usable storage of any boat I have ever reviewed in this class. Aside from the places you would expect to see storage allowances, there are cavernous spaces under both rear facing seats; the underfloor storage contains not one but two removable, moulded fish-bins; and open the two cupboards either side of the electrics locker in the transom to find even more storage.
Personally, if this was my boat and I was going to go crazy with customisations, I would convert some of the storage to dedicated 12-volt refrigeration and some to a massive high-volume live bait tank. There would still be more than enough space left over to hide all my toys away and have a completely clear working area.

Clean freak's dream

A notable feature of all the Rayglass Legend boats I have been in is the implementation of their fully-moulded one-piece cockpits – there are no tight corners or seams anywhere to trap the undesirable by-products of a successful day's fishing. While a hose down with the built-in washdown pump is likely to be ample in most circumstances, even if some stubborn greblies did require a brush to be used, I cannot see it taking more than five minutes elbow grease to get this cockpit spotless again – it really could not be easier to clean. All the wastewater drains away into the bilges to be expelled by the bilge pump – too easy.

The cockpit floor has been lowered in order to give the transom and side walls extra height, an even higher safety factor for the little ones. Cushioning is fixed at hip height to add to the comfort for those fishing or just for a more enjoyable chilling experience.

The driver's perspective

Too often we draw comparisons between the dashes of European cars and modern boats, but it is a difficult likeness to get away from. The relatively new style of Mercury Smart Craft gauge is appealing and a step up on those I became familiar with three or four years ago. More importantly, this dash has plenty of space for an ultra-wide screen navigation system, such the Garmin 7012 in place this day, and a new feature is the push button start on the "go fast" lever.

Climbing up into the helm seat is where I really started to notice the boat's class. As a general rule, my preference is to stand when on the helm and there is plenty of room to do so on this Legend. However, for the first time ever – I believe – my preference in this boat was to sit when taking the controls; a power slider brings the very comfortable skipper's seat forward to the perfect "pilot" position, and it seems higher than usual with the two-piece curved glass windscreen allowing for excellent visibility.

On the water

Scotty had given me a pretty good indication of the hull's impressive performance in close quarters during the photoshoot, but you have to get behind the wheel to really understand it.
Conditions were a little sloppy later in the day when I climb into the hot seat, but the ride was nevertheless a pleasure; the pointy end carved the building slop beautifully and even running close to WOT, we didn't get any real air time. And the hull strakes proved very effective at holding the vessel true to course through slightly confused seas, where the swell and current were fighting each other.
All in all, the ride was exactly as I expected given the boat's reputation. There really is very little discernible difference between the ride of this hull and the larger Legend 2500, which is considered one of the best available. My only quibble is that I would like to have seen a bit more horsepower on the back, as I am sure the Verado 300 would turn this quality mare into a true thoroughbred. Fortunately for us petrol heads, the 300 is a very viable option.
One last point on the 2200's ride: I was surprised at how effective the trim tabs are on the hull ride aspect; the boat is almost aeroplane-like in its response to tab adjustments. An experienced driver of this hull would be able to optimise its performance in almost any condition – load the hull however you like and the tabs will sort it out.

The verdict

The Rayglass Legend 2200 is everything I expected from the brand: great lines, classy performance and enough vision in the design to keep it ahead of the competition. It also hits in a sweet spot in the Legend range at a manageable yet versatile size.

As a family boat in this class it is very hard to beat, with its space, storage, high gunnels, seakeeping and large fuel tank making it a very competent blue-water weapon. This is certainly a boat you would be proud to own – well done, team Rayglass.

For more information contact Dave or Scott at Rayglass Boats, Auckland, ph 09 573 7979 or enquiries@rayglass.co.nz.

Very comfortable helm position
High gunwales
A great deal of control over the hull's trim
Teak trim

I would like to see more horsepower


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