A lot rests on the nar­row shoul­ders of this punchy sportscruiser. For­tu­nately its per­for­mance and de­sign are more than up to the chal­lenge

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - Words & pic­tures Nick Burn­ham

Glastron is now part of Bénéteau Group, but is the American-made flag­ship of the range suited to Euro­pean tastes?

Never un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of mid-20ft sportscruis­ers. This is the ab­so­lute heart­land of first ‘proper boat’ own­er­ship, the place peo­ple grav­i­tate to when, with the on­set of a fam­ily and the need for a sep­a­rate loo and space for the kids to kip, the cuddy cabin can no longer cut it. Even for those that have out­grown this sec­tor, the suc­cess of boats like this brand new 25ft Glastron might be what stands be­tween a fu­ture buyer of your used Princess V39 sign­ing on the dot­ted, or choos­ing to take up golf in­stead.

It’s a sec­tor that ab­so­lutely has to work in or­der to spring­board its owner and fam­ily into a life­long boat­ing ad­dic­tion, yet para­dox­i­cally it’s also po­ten­tially the most com­pro­mised arena in the mo­tor boat mar­ket be­cause it has to do ev­ery­thing – be a driv­ing ma­chine for dad, a week­end cot­tage for mum and an aquatic play cen­tre for the kids. And it has to do all of this while de­liv­er­ing com­pact di­men­sions that keep run­ning costs down and man­age­abil­ity up. And it has to be af­ford­able.

Glastron has form in this seg­ment of the mar­ket. A decade ago, the pre­vi­ous model GS 259 sportscruiser sold strongly in the UK. Things have moved on for Glastron since then, not least of all, own­er­ship of the com­pany. Rec Boat Hold­ings, which also owns Well­craft and Four Winns, is now wholly owned by the mono­lithic French Bénéteau Group. Cur­rently the boats are still built at Glastron’s base in Cadil­lac, Michigan. But don’t rule out French­built Glas­trons in fu­ture, or in­deed American-built Bénéteaus, as the group seeks to cap­i­talise on its in­ter­na­tional fac­tory base.

But what of the boat? Fun­da­men­tally, the con­cept echoes the GS 259 of old, and in­deed pretty much ev­ery other sportscruiser in this sec­tor. And like most other sim­i­larly sized sportscruis­ers, par­tic­u­larly those hail­ing from the USA, the big­gest area of

com­pro­mise is the beam. Amer­i­cans think noth­ing of trai­ler­ing boats like this, so the beam is set to com­ply with their tow­ing width re­stric­tion of 8ft 6in. With a sub-8m length over­all (length is pegged at 25ft 2in/7.7m), the de­sign­ers have their work cut out de­liv­er­ing a mean­ing­ful sportscruiser ex­pe­ri­ence within these com­pact pa­ram­e­ters.

The big­gest dif­fi­culty is that, an­noy­ingly, buy­ers of smaller boats tend to be about the same size as those of larger ones, mak­ing pro­por­tions chal­leng­ing. Stand­ing head­room is a pre­req­ui­site for the suc­cess­ful sportscruiser, and the GS 259 de­liv­ers, of­fer­ing a full 6ft of clear­ance at the base of the cabin steps. The lay­out is stan­dard-pat­tern sportscruiser, with a horse­shoe of dinette for­ward that drops to cre­ate a dou­ble, a small gal­ley op­po­site the head and a dou­ble berth stretch­ing back be­neath the front of the cock­pit. That head is a par­tic­u­larly good size – peo­ple are less pre­pared to sit on the loo with a shoul­der against each wall these days, and the GS 259 en­sures that they won’t have to. Pale wood and classy lin­ings are well lit by triple over­head sky­lights (the for­ward one an open­ing hatch) and slim fil­lets of win­dow. But un­for­tu­nately, for ev­ery inch you take, some­thing else has to give, and in this case that some­thing is stor­age. Apart from un­lined lock­ers be­neath the seats and a cou­ple of shal­low shelves in the gal­ley, the only proper stor­age space is two slim open-fronted lock­ers next to the cabin steps (the lower of which looks like a hang­ing locker but lacks a rail) and three cave lock­ers in the mid cabin aft bulk­head – again, open fronted. Trav­el­ling light would seem to be a pre­req­ui­site.

Head up­stairs and that nar­row beam makes it­self felt via a to­tal lack of side decks; the only route to the fore­deck is through an

open­ing cen­tre sec­tion of the wind­screen. It’s not an un­com­mon ar­range­ment in boats of this type, although op­tional high-level pul­pit rails would of­fer a lit­tle more con­fi­dence. The pay­back is a full-beam cock­pit with a sin­gle-level floor that max­imises avail­able space and sports a cou­ple of neat de­tails. Both back­rests flipflop fore and aft, the front one al­ter­nat­ing the for­ward sec­tion of seat­ing be­tween a helm seat or ad­di­tional aft-fac­ing dinette seat­ing. The back one does the same, giv­ing more space around the dinette or a bathing plat­form seat which of­fers a ter­rific view out across the wa­ter at an­chor. A chaise longue pro­vides ad­di­tional seat­ing next to the helm (back­rests are padded at both ends mak­ing this a per­fectly us­able for­ward-fac­ing seat un­der­way), as well as of­fer­ing more space in­side at the head end of the bed. Noth­ing new there, but the gal­ley just aft of it is a neat and un­usual touch, al­low­ing cock­pit cater­ers a sec­ond fridge as well as a hob and sink. Triple-tone uphol­stery with di­a­mond-quilted in­serts lends this area a touch of class. An op­tional full-length ‘camper’ canopy gives stand­ing head­room through­out, turn­ing this area into a cosy sec­ond liv­ing area with the side cur­tains in, or cre­at­ing an ef­fec­tive bi­mini with them out. If you wish to run com­pletely al­fresco, the in­tel­li­gently con­fig­ured stain­less-steel frame con­certi­nas for­ward, self sup­port­ing with the folded top furled around it.


All that height and space within such com­pact di­men­sions and nar­row beam cre­ate two ob­vi­ous ar­eas of com­pro­mise. A slab­sided look is a po­ten­tial in­evitabil­ity, but one that Glastron dis­guises rea­son­ably well with a low-pro­file wind­screen and bold hull graph­ics in a choice of three colours as stan­dard. Of more in­ter­est is the dy­namic ef­fect of all that height within a nar­row beam, and with a brisk wind blow­ing through the pretty French town of Le La­van­dou, we’ve got the perfect test con­di­tions – a shel­tered bay with a large swell run­ning down the coast just off the head­land.

There are no diesel op­tions, cur­rently at least. Glastron of­fers the GS 259 with Mer­cruiser’s 4.5-litre V6 giv­ing 250hp as stan­dard, or a feisty 6.2-litre V8 giv­ing 300hp for those that want more power and speed. Sim­i­larly sized Volvo Penta mo­tors are also on the op­tions list, giv­ing a broadly sim­i­lar spread. Also on the op­tions list is a bow thruster, some­thing that the windage of those slab sides makes a de­sir­able one. We have the lat­ter, but no up­grades on the en­gine, our test boat run­ning the ba­sic Mer­cruiser. But in truth, the boat runs well with it. Two up, it’s fast on to the plane, and tops out at a re­spectable 32 knots at WOT and 4,800rpm. A com­fort­able cruis­ing gait spans 20 to 25 knots, the en­gine turn­ing over at be­tween 3,500 and 3,900rpm. Those high sides mean that the trim tabs re­ceive a good work­out – in a stiff breeze, be pre­pared to re-tab for each di­rec­tion change. But it’s noth­ing that the stan­dard-fit Lenco tabs can’t eas­ily cope with, and it’s en­tirely ex­pected for a boat of this size and style.

What’s less ex­pected is how well the hull copes with the rough stuff off the head­land. Yes, we got a bit wet oc­ca­sion­ally and no, you prob­a­bly wouldn’t choose to be out in these con­di­tions in such a small boat. But Glastron’s flag­ship cruiser of­fers greater abil­ity than you might ex­pect, and one day, that ex­tra dose of con­fi­dence might just make that dif­fer­ence be­tween up­grad­ing to a Princess V39 or hit­ting a small, white ball around a field.


The op­tional full-length bi­mini pro­vides plenty of wel­come shade

The heads is very spa­cious for this size of boat Light wood and coloured lin­ings add vis­ual in­ter­est The mid cabin gains head­room at the pil­low end from the chaise longue above

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