What’s she like to sail?
She’s a real sailor's boat and a joy to helm. Even with twin rudders she was ever so responsive and light on the wheels She feels like a bigger boat, partly due to the helm position being perched on the transom and the large, well thoughtout cockpit ahead of you. There are plenty of control lines for those who love to tweak, but it’s not necessary to constantly play them. Her hull is light and easily driven, and getting over 5 knots to windward in 10 knots of apparent showed her speed potential (although she was without a typical payload of cruising kit).
Her deck layout, with the genoa winches flanking the companionway, works really well for a short-handed crew. One person can handle both sheets while tacking without even moving their feet or leaning over the coaming. They can also take a step forward and up to tend the coachroof winches while standing upright.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Our test boat had a single keel and twin rudders, but the opposite is available too and using the twin keels and single rudder she can take the ground with ease. The foredeck is flat, broad and ideal for sunbathing or inflating dinghies. The foredeck anchor locker is vast and ideal for fenders, which is just as well, as getting kit in and out of the technical area, aft of the heads, on a daily basis would soon lose its appeal – and scratch the paintwork.
The white-painted interior makes it bright down below, and with the midsummer sun shining into the saloon, I still needed my sunglasses (to be fair, we had removed the UV screens from the windows for the photo shoot).
She has a single bow roller integrated into the optional bowsprit, which houses the bower anchor. You'd need to rig a bridle to use a swinging mooring.
Like nearly all twin-rudder yachts, she lacked propwash over the rudders when manoeuvring in tight spaces.
Would she suit you and your crew?
The RM970 isn’t your normal family cruiser and RM isn't your normal boatbuilder. Everything is a little bit different: hard chines, plywood construction, multicoloured hulls. About the only ‘regular’ thing on board is the GRP deck, which is lined with wood! Not everyone will like her reverse bow; from some angles she looks low and sleek, from others she can appear slab-sided and boxy, but all this matters not when you start sailing her. Put aside any reservations and have a go at what she does best: sailing.
She might appear basic – an argument bolstered by the lack of a solid door to the forepeak – but she displays many features lacking on more expensive yachts: soft closures on locker doors, Antal deck hardware, Dyneema halyards and fine-tune adjustment on the mainsheet led back to the helm. You may want more space and privacy, or more headroom if you’re over 6ft tall. If so, check out the RM 1070. But if you’re willing to forego a little luxury for a cracking sailing boat, this one should be on your shortlist.