A little while ago we wrote about the Grady-White Freedom 192, and how Grady builds boats with stringers of marine plywood encased in hand-laid fiberglass. This makes for a heavier, often sturdier structure than a hull made with hollow or foam-filled stringers, and also generally means a more comfortable ride in seaway.
The downside, of course, is that it takes more power to push a heavier boat at the same speeds as its same-length competition, all else –especially deadrise – being equal.
A similar boat in some ways is the Robalo R180. Like the Freedom 192, it’s the smallest boat in its builder’s lineup, and it’s built with lots of beef, not only in the hull and deck structures but in its systems, rails, and other mounted hardware, right down to its hinges. In fact, in his short-take video review of the 180, Lenny Rudow says it’s “built like a little bull.”
The Robalo R180 gets a lot of its weight from a simple abundance of construction material. The fiberglass hull is hand-laid, the stringers are solid molded FRP, and the elements of the molded structure are sizeable, including a deep, safe cockpit inside high freeboard, and wide gunwales. Also, the 18-footer carries a full eight feet of beam, which adds more deck space and increased initial stability to the weight of materials.
Here the two boats diverge, both in design and function. The Grady-White is a dual-console bow-rider – more of a family-fun machine, while the Robalo is a true center-console, more of a fishing and fast-travel platform – with a good-sized head compartment and wet locker in the console, no less.
The 2012 R180 has been offered by Robalo in a package with a Yamaha 115 outboard and aluminum trailer for $26,220 — certainly a good value, and it will be interesting to see how the value of package holds up when these boats start coming on the used market.