Rayglass Legend 850

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Rayglass Legend 850

They don’t come any bigger than this. Rayglass’s new Legend 850 is the biggest production grp trailerboat built in New Zealand and as Barry Thompson found out in this exclusive review, it’s one hell of a boat.                      

Thirty years ago when my father said he was going to buy a 19ft trailerboat I thought he was joking. How could he tow it, where would he park it and what sort of huge engine would he need to power it? How times have changed and today when I take home a boat that size my young sons certainly don’t consider it being huge.

Just prior to the New Zealand Boat Show NZ Propeller magazine was given the opportunity for an exclusive photo session and trial run in the Rayglass Legend 850 and whilst my time aboard wasn’t long enough to bring you a full boat test report, I felt the significance of the boat was more than worthy of a review.

For Tony Hembrow and his team at Rayglass, the Legend 850  has been borne out of customer response for a bigger boat than their current Legend 730. It is a boat that makes no pretence about being designed to cater for the offshore fisherman who wants something robust enough to take 70 miles offshore, or the serious diver who looks to a boat as being both a vehicle of transport as well as a spacious changing room. Both have been more than catered for in the Legend 850. Added to this it has the comforts and amenities of a true weekender. Although most of the offshore bluewater  criteria was being catered for in the Legend 730, for some discerning owners it still wasn’t big enough.

Hembrow reacted to this in a positive way and whilst in the past he admits he designed boat’s that he wanted, the Legend 850 was very much customer driven. More waterline length, better seakeeping and most importantly even more fishing area. This despite the 730 having the biggest workable cockpit space of all the production grp trailerable 7m boats. The 850 just leaves it for dead!

This is a boat not with a big fishing cockpit, but a enormous fishing cockpit. This is also a boat not with a big fuel tank, but a huge fuel tank (450 litres) and it’s a boat with not a large underfloor kill tank but a cavernous one (300 litres). Everything about the Legend 850 is big and naturally this also includes the price ($127,000 for the standard boat/motor/trailer package), the space you need to park it and the vehicle you need to tow it (it weighs 2640kgs on the trailer). If none of that scares you off, then read on.

The Legend 850 slots into the gap between those stepping up to a really big trailerboat and those steeping down from a launch. It’s a boat that will probably be housed more in the drystack and marinas, or on a beach trailer, than on a fully road legal trailer. As per the 730, the 850 is taken out to the maximum trailerable beam and it’s ideal for those that like to do their boating on either coast.


The Legend 850  is a totally new hull and although loosely based on the well proven 730, isn’t simply a ‘cut and stretch’. Underneath , Rayglass have continued with the deep 23 degree hull form with wide strakes and running plank to assist lift and hull speed, but with a finer entry forward, changes in the chine and more pronounced rocker in the bottom now has more lift than the 730.  The entry and bottom configuration is designed around rough water and that’s where the 850 is certain to excel.  At 8.5m overall length, weighing over 2500 lbs and 23 degree vee, the reality is, it has no option.

                The topside styling looks just like a  Legend 730 and it’s really only the extra 1.2m of cockpit space that sets this boat apart from the 730. Rayglass didn’t want to alter too much in the layout concept, especially considering the outstanding acceptance of the seating stations. Again these have been carried through to the 850 and for divers (eight bottles stowed either side) they are the ultimate for tank stowage. Such is the success of this design they are being carried through also to the new Legend 650.

From the seat stations forward the 850 is a copy of the 730, with all the same overnighting facilities. Under the high cabin top Rayglass have managed to compact in just about everything that’s necessary for a weekender. The fully plumbed head is concealed behind a teak door, that also doubles as the cabin door. With a pair of slid in boards the cabin can be locked or given total privacy. It’s an ingenious design that graphically illustrates the attention to detail that has gone into the new flagship of Rayglass. The galley features a small cooker with fridge below, sink unit with hot and cold pressurised water and storage lockers. The oversized V berth  with 7ft 6in bunks makes comfortable accommodation for two and although that’s probably enough for a boat this size, there’s still enough space in the cockpit to fit a blow-up double mattress for those you couldn’t leave behind. With the optional cockpit tent canopy in place you virtually have another cabin. This is a boat that’s ideal for two or three guys who want to go away on a three day fishing trip!

      You would think that if you are going to do a lot of your boating offshore, the hardtop would be a standard item. Not so. The first 850 built featured a soft canopy and boat number two (as reviewed here) was the first with the hardtop option. The same as offered on the 730, it does add another $7000 to the price, but what a benefit. With the drop-in side and forward clears, the all weather protection is unequalled. For my mind it’s a definite option that should be on all 850s.

      Like all Rayglass Legends, the boat is constructed with an inner liner which offers superb draining when cleaning down the cockpit. It also means that you can’t have any other seating options….but then who would! One reason for the inner/outer liner design is that the boats are designed to hold far more buoyancy than any other boats on the market. Rayglass start prior to designing their boats by working out the buoyancy that’s needed and then build the boat around it. The centre sections are in fact hollow, with the buoyancy  raised up the sides, so the centre floods and the boat sits stable in the water even with the cockpit full. It’s not just guess work as Rayglass actually water test each new model and have photos to prove it.

Other storage areas in the cockpit are restricted to moulded side pockets which are primarily designed for rods, gaffs and boat hooks. However such is the space in the moulded seat stations that there’s little need for anymore.

The transom area is also very much Legend 730 with a twin walk-through design either side of a central bait and rod rack arrangment onto a full width boarding platform. Surprisingly the engine hatch (complete with padded seat) seems miniscule in the  huge cockpit. Access to steering, batteries etc is via lockers either side of the engine box.


Power options are whatever you want, diesel, petrol, inboard, outboard, jet or sterndrive. The first two have been fitted with Mercruisers, a 502, developing 445hp and our boat with a V8 280hp unit.  Hembrow feels that it’s not going to be long before he sells one with a pair of twin V6 outboards, which he sees as being a neat combination, especially for those into offshore fishing.

The 280hp Mercruiser saw the speedo sitting around 45mph during our run on a calm Auckland Harbour and with twin 150hp V6 outboards you would expect to see close to 50mph. The boat has the length, the shape and the strength to bolt on just about any realistic horsepower and Rayglass are more than happy to accommodate any reasonable request. The fact that there is no warranty limitation on horsepower says a lot for the faith Rayglass put in their hulls. As Hembrow says…” you’ll give up before the hull does”!

Construction is conventional grp, although every boat is built to a strict laminate design engineered by High Modulus Ltd. 


Rayglass are predicting big things from their new model and production in the new 29400 sqft factory is being geared-up to handle one a week if the orders are there to require it. However to be conservative, initial response is expected to be around 15 to 18 boats a year, simple due to the specialist nature of the boat. Compare this to the Legend 730 which currently runs at one a week!

This is a boat that requires a special owner. It’s a very expensive trailer boat that will suit someone that wants to fish both coasts or a large cockpit for diving. Yet, this is not just a fishing boat as it offers plenty of creature-comforts to make it a nice boat for both day cruising or weekending. Interestingly, boat number one went to a diver who was looking for the biggest damn cockpit he could get and boat number two, to a fisherman who wanted a boat that would offer him the security he required for real offshore fishing. The difference in price between the standard Legend 730 and a similar speced Legend 850 is $15,000. Big boats don’t just happen and in the case of the 850  it took 14 months to design, tool-up and produce the first boat. The just release Legend 650 was two years in the making and Rayglass estimate it’s cost over $100,000 per new boat. Hembrow predicts that any company that is not tooling for new models right now will not be around in a few years.

      However don’t think that this is the end of the big boat range for Rayglass as there is a very good chance that we will see 10-11m boats coming out in the next few seasons carrying the Rayglass label. No, they will not be trailerable, but then that’s
another story.

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