Cabo, the first ICON/ROBSON 433 sport fisher is one of the most innovative new power cats to be launched in recent years and is a testimony to kiwi custom building and design.
When the owner of Cabo first approached designer Scott Robson he explained he wanted a big day boat for Fiji with overnight options. The layout had to be fresh and ‘beachy’ as this was a boat to be used for a lot of day entertaining, diving and swimming. Hence the open plan design, extra-large cockpit, huge saloon, a galley that you would expect to find in a boat twice this size and all encompassed in an ultra-modern, functional and minimalistic layout.
The owner’s wife picked the cool Ice Blue ‘Fiji’ inspired fabric colours, which tastefully offsets the darker Zebrano veneer used on all the wood panelling. The Beach House concept really works well, especially for day entertaining, which is primarily what the boat has Robson 433 Sports Fisher been designed for.
Built by Icon Custom Boats in Rangiora, north of Christchurch, the Robson 433 Sport Fisher had a longer than normal gestation due to considerable changes made to the initial drawings.
“We worked closely with the owner right from the outset and made a lot of changes as we understood more about what he want from the boat”, says designer Scott Robson.
Such were the changes that the initial drawings featured twin outboard power and a very different appearance. This was ultimately changed and today’s Robson 433 Sport Fisher is very much a different boat, albeit based on the same hull premise.
One of the things that impressed me about the Robson 433 is the innovative aspects of the design. This is the first powercat I have seen with an open bowrider design on the foredeck (although I have seen it on a Leopard sailing cat) and it is the first I have seen with a side opening door with steps especially built for the height of the marina where it will be moored in Fiji. It is also the first boat of this size I have come across with fold-down bow steps. Now while all these ideas were driven by the owner’s wishes, they have been so well incorporated in the design that they are aspects that owners of similar boats may consider in the future.
With its unique open bow layout Cabo is very much a game changer and what a brilliantly refreshing idea. Access is via a wide opening hatch in the centre of the windscreen or around the side decks. Being an enthusiast for bow riders, I loved it. Okay, so you forfeit the cabin space below, but in the case of Cabo, that wasn’t an issue. Maybe on a much bigger version you may even be able to incorporate the two.
The builders refer to it as a ‘bunny pit’ and it is one part of the initial design that has remained unchanged from the start. Together the builders and designers came up with a forward fold-down set of stairs for ease of access to beaches. Operated by a simple electric winch and pulley system, the steps can be adjusted to whatever height is required. This adds yet another innovative perspective to the whole layout. Very practical and very cool!
When closed, the steps blend into the natural hull lines and are both double locked and fully sealed so they don’t leak. With no central anchor locker available, the anchor tackle is dropped into a locker offset to port and a strategically placed roller guides the rode into the Muir 2500 winch, with the Manson Supreme anchor locking into a port-side fairlead.
Functional and practical and designed for a purpose is the best way to describe the saloon of Cabo. Forward are access steps either side down to the accommodation areas in the hulls and the steps leading forward to the open fore deck area.
Cabo has an exceptionally large galley for its size but that’s again been designed to cater for entertaining on board. Taking up all the port side, the galley is finished with a massive Corian bench top, two-element electric hob and large stainless sink. Underneath are plenty of drawers and storage areas, plus a Microwave and fridge/freezer. However I would imagine that most of the cooking is going to be done on the barbeque in the cockpit. With a hopper style window, the galley and the barbeque blend together as one. Opposite is a large settee with a drop-down table that can convert this area into another berth. If you are going to eat inside, then there’s room enough for at least six around the table, with a couple of loose chairs added. Personally, I can see most of the dining being done outside on one of the two side loungers.
The accommodation layout is reasonably simple, with a double berth amidships in each sponson and a large ensuite with walk-in shower on the port side only. The same space in the opposite sponson is a utility and storage room. The berths are full-size doubles and the cabins both have plenty of storage. All lockers are cedar lined and all construction surfaces are covered with stitched vinyl so there is no bare alloy exposed.
While traditionally the forward cabin space extends right across the roof of the tunnel, in the case of this particular boat that isn’t possible due to the ‘bunny pit’ on the foredeck. Robson is quick to point out that the open bow section is totally this owner’s choice and with a straight foredeck the space below would be utilised for accommodation.
“We are currently in negotiations with a client on a similar but larger version of the 433 and they have gone back to the more conventional forward layout”, says Robson.
The flybridge is set up like the rest of the boat for entertaining and there’s no shortage of comfortable seating, with an L-shaped settee again accented with the ice blue coloured fabric. Here you’ll also find the only helm station which is situated so that you get great forward visibility. The owner wanted to have a clear view of the open bow area at all times and this is made possible with clear panels in the reverse sheer eyebrow. The helm has been equipped with a full array of Raymarine products, such as a pair of C90W screens, with all controls, switches, etc., within easy reach. A single Softrider pedestal helm chair is used, with the benefit of an adjustable bolster, so you can drive seated or semi-standing. The sole is finished in TecDeck and for emergency a six-man Zodiac liferaft is stowed under the aft seat.
The flybridge, pillars and hardtop are a composite construction and bolted to the alloy superstructure. This seems to work really well and the components appear to flow seamlessly together. As the boat is to be used in the hotter climes of Fiji, the choice was for full clears, although a semi or fully enclosed flybridge is an option.
Step out into the cockpit and you cannot help but be impressed by the space, from the forward bulkhead right through to the end of the transom boarding area. This isn’t a boat set up for fishing so there are no tuna tubes, bait bins or rocket launcher. But there is a big drop-down ladder for divers and swimmers and pull-out stainless steel rails so you can have the entire stern area open.
Central double stainless and glass doors divide off the cockpit, with sun pads either side. L-shaped settees with swivelling tables are provided on both sides and hinge up when access to the engine rooms below is required. To starboard are the custom made side opening door and steps that lead through to the foredeck area. The only access to the flybridge is via starboard side steps.
On the port side, is the Black & Stone electric convection barbecue mounted above an Isotherm fridge/freezer combo and icemaker. 30 Knot Plus The hull is an ongoing development of the hull that the designer Scott Robson has been using for the past 25 years.
The underwater sections are based on symmetric hulls with a foil assist. During our test we had nice flat water within the Sounds and a confused short chop outside, so I was able to give the boat a good hard run in a variety of sea states. As you would expect it was quick and easy in the calm and handles like a large runabout. It’s slippery on the water, reaching 30 knots easily and with a tweak of the trim on the legs 31 knots wasn’t hard to achieve.
We cruised around 26 knots @ 3200 rpm and used around 100L/h for both engines. Power in Cabo is a pair of 330hp Volvo Penta D300s through DPS legs. You have various power options available up to around 500hp a side and conventional shafts with straight or V drives.
Crank the boat into a high speed turn and I was impressed with how it stayed so level and dropped little in speed. Recovery from a tight turning circle was almost instant. Just make sure you tell your passengers you are doing a high speed turn first and clear the plates off the tables. The DPS legs give you the ability to trim the boat to get the best ride and this was very noticeable in the rougher water. While at negative trim the hulls ran well in the short following sea, when you added a little in trim, the boat went even better. Thanks in some ways to the high tunnels and fine entry, there was minimal hull noise when running hard on the rougher water.
Impressive & Innovative
Immediately after our sea trials in the Marlborough Sounds, Cabo was loaded back onto a truck, taken to Auckland and then shipped to Fiji. Cabo is unquestionably one of the most innovative cats I have seen for a while. I was really impressed with what the designer and builders have managed to do with the space available and the boat is a clear indication that custom boat building is alive and well in New Zealand. Couple that with a superb finish and an exceptional on the water performance and you’ve got yourself a really awesome powercat.
- Boat Design Name: Robson 433 Sport Yacht
- Year Launched: 2013
- Designer: Scott Robson Design
- Interior Designer: Scott Robson Design
- Builder: Icon Custom Boats
- LOA: 14.50m
- LWL: 11.30m
- Beam: 4.80m
- Draft: 1.0m
- Displacement (full): 14 tonnes
- Max Speed: 31 knots
- Cruise Speed: 26 knots
- Construction: Alloy hull 4mm/5mm & composite flybridge
- Fuel Capacity: 1250 litres
- Water Capacity: 400 litres
- Engines Make: Volvo Penta D6 330
- Drive Train: Volvo Penta DPH sterndrives
- Base Price of Boat: POA