We were in good company as we blasted across Biscayne Bay during the Miami International Boat Show in the Robalo R300 center console fishing boat this past February. Surrounded by plenty of other capable offshore center consoles being run by fellow journalists, we transitioned into open water and poured on more power—watching while boat by boat dropped farther and farther behind. We passed the upper 40s, broke into the 50s, and then topped out at 55 MPH.
OK, we know what you’re thinking—there are plenty of center consoles that can go faster than this. But how many of them can do this comfortably, in a three-foot chop? Not that many, in our experience. Yet the Robalo R300 we ran in Miami handled these conditions comfortably, giving us the confidence to run fast. And that’s a nice feather to have in your hat, when offshore fishing is your game.
Though twin 250-horsepower 4.2-liter Yamaha F250 outboards are the most common power arrangement ordered by R300 buyers, we were quite pleased with the performance of the F300’s on our test boat. Yes, they had a rather thirsty 51.9 GPH fuel burn at top-end, but dialing it back to a 4500 RPM cruise around nets you 1.4 MPG while running at over 41 MPH. And at 25 MPH they provide an efficient 1.9 MPG cruise. Do some quick math and you’ll find that at that speed, the R300 has a monstrous theoretical range of around 575 miles. In case you were wondering, the twin F250 outboards net a top-end of around 51 MPH with a cruise in the upper 30’s. You’ll also save around four grand by choosing the F250s… about $1,000 for every one MPH of top-end.
The R300’s solid ride comes compliments of its deep-V hull and 21-degree transom deadrise, which we found cuts through a steep chop like the proverbial knife through butter. The feeling of solidness also comes from a very noticeable lack of creaks, squeaks, and rattling while underway—a benefit of the R300’s beefy composite construction. The R300 performed admirably when put through a curvy, twisty course of sharp turns and figure eights, providing excellent tracking and an overwhelming feeling of surefootedness. There’s not much more to say other than the R300 is one sweet ride in a choppy, churned-up sea.
Stretch Out and Fish
Hopping onboard the boat we found a vast deck with lots of walk-around space past the center console—a common bottleneck on this type of boat. Thanks for this roominess goes to the R300’s 10’6” beam. To give you an idea of how beamy that is for a boat this size, many competing 28- to 30-footers have beams well under 10 feet. So, what does Robalo pack into all this space? Lots of comfort and fishing-friendly features, that’s what.
We were particularly pleased to see not only two 82.5-gallon fish boxes under the cockpit deck, but also an additional pair up in the bow, under the U-shaped bow seating area. Behind the center console’s twin bucket seats is an aft-facing bench with a rigging station above it and stowage lockers beneath it. While it’s certainly big enough and up to the job, we wished it had a little more room—and a cutting board and sink—for chopping up and rigging dead baits. We counted more than 25 places to stow a rod onboard if you include the hard top rocket launchers, deck-mounted rigging station spots, under-gunwale rod stowage, the flush-mount rod holders on deck, and the rod stowage engineered into the head compartment under the center console unit. Twin Simrad multifunction displays at the helm and a 25-gallon livewell at the transom round out the R300’s compliment of fishy features.
Robalo thankfully didn’t skimp on keeping the R300 comfy in favor of all those fishing accouterments, however. Forward at the bow is the aforementioned U-shaped seating area, which can be transformed into a dining area with a drop-in table. A little bit farther aft is a cushy, two-person bench with an integrated cooler beneath it. It’s just ahead of the center console unit, which has a head, sink, and stowage area hidden beneath it.
Upholstered bolstering runs around the inside of the gunwale from bow to stern; it’s a nice way to protect against waist-level bangs and bumps against the hard fiberglass. The aft cockpit has seating for two more folks in the form of an aft-facing bench, but you lose that seating when the rigging station is in use. We really liked the seating at the helm—a pair of nicely upholstered bucket seats with push-up bolsters that convert for standing and leaning versus sitting. All in all there’s plenty of seating and creature comforts to keep a crowd of family and friends happy.
As you might have guessed, all of this performance and comfort comes at a price. Our test model pushed well into the low $200,000 range with all the options boxes checked. Still, for that money you get one of the most capable and comfortable 30-foot center console boats around—especially when the seas get churned-up and choppy.
Other Choices: The Contender 30 ST is another boat known for rough-water abilities, and although it has a foot less beam, it also adds about 10 MPH to top-end. If you want to go a bit bigger (and more expensive) check out the Pursuit ST 310. And the Cobia 296 should be another boat of interest to buyers in this market.
See Robalo R300 listings.
For more information, visit Robalo.
|Fuel capacity||300 gal.|
|Water capacity||30 gal.|
|Test conditions: Five to 10 MPH winds, calm seas, three POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Twin Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboards, swinging 15.25” x 19” three-bladed stainless-steel props.|