New boat test: RM 970
How many luxuries would you be willing to give up for a cracking sailing boat? Graham Snook tests the RM 970 in La Rochelle to find out
‘She’s a real sailor's boat with a great cockpit layout.’ Graham Snook went to put her through her paces
What sort of boat would a Vendée Globe Race winner buy? Well, if you’re François Gabart, the Vendée’s youngest winner, it’s an RM970. If that doesn’t convince you that this quirky plywood boat is worth the once over, she's also the 2017 European Yacht of the Year in the family cruiser category. Whether she’ll suit your family is a question only you can answer.
The last RM I tested, the smaller 890, reached over 9 knots in 20 knots of apparent wind and I was really hoping for a nice breeze on this test, too. Sadly we set off in a true wind topping out at 0.7 knots. Luckily the sky was clear and the sun was hot so we soon had a light sea breeze filling in. When the breeze did arrive it became apparent that the wind angle sensor wasn’t calibrated, so all apparent wind angle readings are approximate.
In the light conditions I was impressed with how responsive and light she was the helm. She had Goïot steering, which worked like a dream – the only dampener on the experience was the Raymarine autopilot ram squeaking annoyingly when the arm came out of its housing, but there was just one R-spring clip to disconnect the arm from the steering system and silence it. The steering was well balanced, smooth and felt great; nicely manoeuvrable without being twitchy. It was easy to sail her to make the most of the wake of passing ships.
She cruises along nicely with the standard Volvo D1-20 engine, doing 4.5 knots at 2,100rpm.