It seemed that every time we planned to take the Rayglass 650 Legend out on the water the gods were against us. Weather, boat availability or just
organising everyone together at one particular time and place. In fact it got so bad we almost didn’t make it for this issue. Was it worth the wait – you’re darn right it was!
It wasn’t so many years ago that Rayglass didn’t feature in the top tenor even top twenty boat builders of choice in the country. How things change in just a few short years with the company now regarded as one of the leading and most influential trailer boat manufacturers in the New Zealand.
The Rayglass name has become synonymous with quality and safety, both attributes that Rayglass boss, Tony Hembrow holds dearly. His enthusiasm for his product is infectious and he treats every boat that leaves his big new Pakuranga factory as if it where his own. Even after six months he is just as excited about his latest release as when it received the 1997 Boat Of The Show Award. There were two main reasons for releasing the 650. Firstly the demand for a full volume boat that weighed under 2000 kgs on the trailer and could legally be towed by a six cylinder family saloon, i.e. Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore. But more importantly a boat suitable for a sterndrive package. Currently the sales ratio is 60/40 in favour of the sterndrive option which is not surprising considering a big proportion of 650 owners use their boat for gamefishing. Less running costs, no 2 stroke fumes, no vibration and no noise. It’s also a boat that accepts an outboard well and even a jet unit if you want something different.
Fun To Drive
This is a totally new hull and not a revamp of anything else but incorporates many of the same winning features of the 730. The deadrise at the transom has been increased to 23 degree, from Rayglass’s traditional 19 degree and now features a variable vee. At speed it is designed to run on the inner 23 deg section and at slower speeds the 20 degree outer sections are there to assist in hull stability and lift. They work on both accounts. It’s not unlike an old gullwing, but doesn’t suck the horsepower, due in part to the outer section being flat rather than concave and the ability of the boat to get up and run easily on the inner strakes.
It’s a fun boat to drive and nimble as skiboat. It’s not until you hook the 650 into a high speed full lock to lock turn that you realise just how good this hull really is. You can toss it around any which-way and it will not let go or do anything unpredictable. Even the most novice driver will have no problems behind the wheel. The hull stays flat, with stability no doubt aided by the lower centre of gravity of the sterndrive
In a typical Auckland Harbour chop with a 20 knot gusting breeze, the deeper vee certainly made a difference. In a short quartering sea the 650 ran flat (with a touch on one tab), soft riding, had no forward hull slapping noises and never took a drop of spray across the screen. It wasn’t rough, but rough enough to get a good feel for the boat and appreciate that the extra time and effort spend in researching the hull has paid off in both ride and handling.
Powered by a MerCruiser 210hp fuel injected LXEFI, the 650 pokes heaps of power into the water and what a great combination. Top speed on a moderately choppy Auckland Harbour was 45 knots ( 51.8 mph) @ 4500 rpm. Cruising at a comfortable 30 knots (34.5mph) @ 3100 rpm, the 650 was a pleasure to drive. Bolt in more horsepower and the 650 will handle it, but I wouldn’t bother. The stock option of the 210hp MerCruiser is a good match. You can expect much the same speed from a 175hp V6 outboard.
Whilst sterndrives have never been the most favoured power option in boats this size, the 650 will change your way of thinking. Rayglass have ‘buried’ the engine into an ingeniously moulded transom section which means there is no space penalty in the cockpit, over a conventional outboard. Typical of the forethought gone into the design, the split engine box is shaped to mould around most popular sterndrives that suit the 650, from MerCruiser, Volvo Penta and Yamaha. With the hatches open, access to the engine and power steering system is uninhibited making service and maintenance an easier task.
Whilst the 650 looks from the side to have a portofino stern…it doesn’t. The running surface goes full length to the transom and is built with the theory that the longer the waterline the better the ride. It also supports the extra weight of the sterndrive package.
The hull entry is sharper than the 620 and 520 models, but the same as the 730. All models feature the same distinctive Rayglass stemline. As for the deck styling you might be excused for mistaking it for a 730. From the cabin forward that’s almost exactly what it is, although there is more radius in the cabin top and with no separate toilet and galley inside it’s naturally shorter. The cockpit is modestly larger than the 730 due to the new sterndrive positioning, but the seat stations and facia are identical. The 650 is also a little narrower – 2.35m compared to 2.45m.
A walk-around side deck is a big change over the 620 which has no side decks at all. With the hull being slightly higher there is more cabin room and less bulbous shape in the top.
Easy To Clean
The 650 has one of those easy to clean, no nonsense cockpits that only require a quick splash with the hose and detergent. Big aft drains take away the post-fishing mess and with the one-piece internal liner, there’s no chance of missing a mashed up pilchard in a crack.
Space to put things is always important and the Rayglass 650 has more per metre cockpit storage than any other similar sized boat on the market. The draining, fully moulded cockpit has recessed side panels to keep your rods, boat hook and gaff out of the way, although for the serious fisherman the optional rocket launcher is a better bet.
Aft lockers hid away a saltwater washdown to starboard and the battery to port. The central bait station, with cutting board comes standard with a moulded sink unit and a foot operated water pump.
Under the cockpit sole a massive 150 litre lift-out stainless steel bin is a marvellous feature, especially for fishos and divers. But the piece-de-resistance are the moulded seat stations, which were introduced three years ago in the 730 and have been copied in various forms by a number of other boat manufacturers.
Lift up the rear section and there’s enough space for my youngest boys to play hide and seek. More importantly you can get eight dive bottles each side, sets of dive gear, the spare outboard auxiliary, chilly bin, fishing gear, safety pack, spare warp, fenders and plus plus plus. There are extra side lockers forward but no side floor lockers.
Being a strong advocate of making his boats as save as possible, Hembrow believes that in order to make their under floor RPF buoyancy work correctly the outer stringers need to be sealed with maximum flotation to eliminate any roll-over should the boat become fully flooded. Tests by Rayglass have proven the theory works and with a cockpit full of water the 650 is balanced by the weight of water in the keel section.
The positive flotation is provided by RPF Endurathane closed cell foam, injected into all cavities within the boat not required for storage. The RPF bonds to fibreglass, making the boat a one-piece unit and transferring strength from all components. It only adds around 25kgs in weight, adds structural strength to all already strong boat (built under CPC), rigidity, reduces noise and adds less than 25 kgs of weight.
The three layer dash system has a switch system on the lower panel, flush mounted electronics in the centre and all instruments above. A compass is standard and the whole lot is well placed and easy on the eye. Like the bigger 730, the 650 runs a Taylor glass screen, which allows you the privilege of a windscreen wiper.
The Living Is Easy
Below decks it’s a lot different from the 730, and is genuinely comfortable. The V berth has an in-fill to make the whole space into a large double berth. A fully plumbed electric head under the centre squab is a standard item and there are lockers for your gear under both berths as well as in deep side trays.
An overhead side panel takes a VHF and stereo and a hatch behind the facia gives access to the back of the gauges, fuses and electronics. The height of the cabin is ample for the average (or tall) boatie, with sitting headroom for 5-6 adults. Although there are side decks, you can do all your anchoring via the cabin hatch and never need to go forward. A popular option would be a capstan winch.
Construction of the 650, like all Rayglass Boats is a little different than most. Rayglass have gone for ease of manufacturing and efficient moulding, which means the 650 only has three main moulds. There’s nothing to come loose, break or unscrew and the boat has a certain stiffness about it. Hull and decks are joined in the same cure cycle when the two are glassed together, so are effectively form part of the same laminate.
The 650 is a day boat that moonlights as an overnighter, although I’m picking that very few people will ever burn-out the cabin light bulbs. With production running at one a week since its release in June ’97, the market has certainly accepted the Rayglass 650 without reserve. It’s making a big impact in Australia and is destined to become the top selling Rayglass within 12 months.
It is unashamedly pitched at the top end of the small boat market and is built around the brick s…house principle, which according to Hembrow is how every boat should be. With his customers tending to go further and further offshore, he is conscious of producing a boat that epitomises safety, strength and seaworthiness, but without loosing the stylish look. It’s not a gadget boat and being conventional in many respects is probably one of its strongest points.
But it lacks for nothing, from the moulded sink unit, to the 200 litre stainless fuel tank. The layout has been designed around the most efficient use of the areas available and if you can find a fault in the gelcoat, upholstery engineering then you’re nit-picking!
There’s no doubt the Rayglass 650 is a Kiwi boat for kiwi blokes….and the ladies will love it too.
- Model: Rayglass 650
- Price: $34650
- Price As Tested: $65000
- Designer: Rayglass Boats
- Material: grp
- Type: cabin runabout
- LOA: 6.74m
- Beam: 2.35m
- Hull Configuration: deep vee
- Trailerable Weight: 1950 kgs
- Engine Capacity: 115-225
- Power Options: sterndrive, outboard, jet.
- Fuel Capacity: 200 litres
1200 rpm @ 7.1 knots (8.1 mph)
2000 rpm @ 12.3 knots (14.1 mph)
2500 rpm @ 20.0 knots (23.0 mph)
3000 rpm @ 30.0 knots (34.5 mph)
3500 rpm @ 36.0 knots (41.5 mph)
4000 rpm @ 40.0 knots (46.1 mph)
4500 rpm @ 45.0 knots (52.0 mph)
Deck Hardware, toughened glass screen, internal liner, 200 litre fuel tank, seat stations, RPF buoyancy.
OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT
Rocket launcher, canopy, capstan winch
- Make: MerCruiser
- HP: 210
- Model: LXEFI
- Cylinder Type: V6
- Max RPM: 4500rpm
- Propeller: 17” Vengeance
- Retail Price: $19266
- Make: Hoskings
- Model: Multiroller
- Braked: no
- Suspension: springs
- Rollers: multi rollers
- Std Features: guide poles, grp guards, pneumatic jockey wheel, sub lights.
- Retail Price: $6580