WATERSPOOR 777 QUICK SPIN
We thought Dutch sloops were just meant for pootling along canals, but Waterspoor is out to prove us wrong
Waterspoor’s latest Aviator model is a devil in disguise with a sting in its elegant tail
There are party tricks, and then there’s the Waterspoor 777 party trick. To perform it, find a suitable victim, preferably one wearing a blue blazer and a peaked cap. He’ll need to be at the helm of something large so he can offer a condescending wave to the poor soul in the little sloop bobbing in his wake as he burbles past imperiously. Just as his wash is about to engulf you, ease the slender throttle all the way forward and revel in the look of sheer astonishment as the Waterspoor lifts up its faux clinker-built skirts and rockets past.
Puerile high jinks aside, there is much to be said for an open dayboat that can do the peaceful pootle upriver as well as any slipper launch, but still has the power and seakeeping to take coastal adventures in its stride. That’s the real purpose of this new 777 Aviator, and why its makers have seen fit to offer it with a range of Nanni diesel engines that run from a mere 21hp to the full-fat 270hp. Our test boat had the 200hp version of the Nanni T4 engine and topped out at a very useful 22 knots, more than enough for towing a wakeboard or inflatable toy, not to mention sprinting home after a long day out on the water.
It’s not just the performance that surprises; Waterspoor is a relatively new yard with ambitions to broaden the appeal of the Dutch sloop to a younger, more active audience, so the cockpit gets the youth treatment too. Out go the trad blue upholstery and honeycoloured teak decks and in come bright red seats, black Flexiteek and carbon-fibre-effect detailing. It sounds horrendous, but I have to admit that in the flesh, it looks really good. A bit like an open-topped Bentley, it takes a certain chutzpah to carry it off, but that’s half the fun.
Despite the 777’s turn of speed, the helmsperson still has to contend with a wheel more suited to an ocean-cruising yacht than a sportsboat, but somehow it works just fine. The rudder is sensitive enough for quite small movements to have a significant effect on your heading at pace, while a shallow keel ensures it tracks nice and straight at lower speeds without the need for constant adjustments.
Having a single shaft rather than an outdrive, it’s not as agile as a proper sportsboat but it grips very well through turns and has exactly the kind of unshakeable ride you’d expect of a semidisplacement craft with a vertical stem to part the waves. The fit and finish is mostly very good, although the console shudders a bit at speed and the bow lifts up enough to block the view forward when seated so you may want to think about installing trim tabs. I’d also like to see some form of gas-assisted ram to help lift the engine box (at the moment it’s a two-man job), and a catch to hold the heads door in place underway.
These minor foibles aside, it’s a very civilised boat with copious lined lockers
for storage, a proper bathing platform and walk-through transom for access to the sea, a semi-rigid windscreen that folds away when needed, a small but just-about-useable heads in the bow and no fewer than four cleats down each side for mooring duties. As a dayboat for use in harbours and estuaries like Poole or Salcombe with the ability to stray further afield when required, it makes a lot of sense. It will potter all day with barely a whisper from the engine and an imperceptible effect on the fuel tank level, but is happy to flip from Jekyll to Hyde when the mood takes you, or that old boy in the blazer needs pulling down a peg or two.
Contact Bray Marine Sales. Tel: +44 (0)1628 773 177. Web: www.tendersloepen.nl
The 777 Aviator has quite a surprising turn of speed if you opt for the big engine
Plenty of smartly lined lockers under all the seats The small heads is basic but useful
More sober colour schemes are available if you don’t want to gamble on black or red
Engine options range from 21hp to 270hp