Rinker 212 Festiva Cuddy

by admin

What’s so special about a boat that attracts such a diverse clientele as freezing workers, barristers and orthopaedic surgeons? Five years ago, John Kinder brought in his first American built Rinker and today, with more than 200 on the water, he’s established a comfortable niche for himself.

Rinker is one of the most  highly respected brands in  the USA, with 53 years experience as an independent family boat building business. Current production runs around 5500 boats annually, with over 60 of those finding their way to New Zealand each year. The 212 Festiva Cuddy is based on the same hull as the 212 Captiva Bowrider, the only difference being the topsides and layout. There are eleven models in the Rinker range from 10.39m to 5.56m, from weekenders to cuddys, bowriders, a sportjet and even a Flotilla boat.

The somewhat conservative Kiwi market ensures that only a selection of the range is actively marketed, although PSL Marine, importers of the Rinker will happily sell you any model you want. Most popular have been the 182 Bowrider, the 192 Captiva and the Fiesta Vee 266.

Conservative perhaps, but one of the 212 Festivas I played with on Lyttelton Harbour for a few hours was far from placid. Normally sold with a 4.3 litre V6 90hp MerCruiser, the 212 Festiva is well matched and returns a respectable top speed with good acceleration and enough grunt for towing any watertoy or skiers.

Knowing my penchant for things fast, Kinder had arranged a hot option in one of the two 212 Festivas, by way of a 300hp, 350 MerCruiser Magnum MPI with Bravo 1 leg. Added to that was a Corsa Silent Choice exhaust system, which allows you (with the flick of a switch) to cruise to the reverberating sound of 300hp expelling its tones over the transom – and across the whole of Lyttelton Harbour or the more sedate low hum of a through-hub release.

This was the first to be offered here with the 350 Magnum and despite a $12,000 upcharge over the standard 190hp option, it’s certainly not going to be the last.


Although the wind was already coming up at 9.00am and we knew that before long the whole harbour would be ‘messy’, a calm water stretch off Diamond Bay was enough to stretch the legs of each boat. Trimmed to the max with two aboard and a little breeze under the hull, the 350 Magnum powered 212 Festiva topped the speedo at just shy of an impressive 65mph @ 4800 rpm. Not bad for a full bodied cabin boat weighing in around 1500 kg.

With the 190hp option, I just managed to tip the needle to 50mph @ 4600 rpm. At 3000 rpm they ran 38mph and 22 mph respectively, and 55mph and 40mph @ 4000 rpm. If you are into  towing a wakeboard then the 20/22mph  setting for both boats is ideal. At just 2200rpm
( 350 Magnum), the boat sat nicely on the plane and left an excellent steep wake for short rope wakeboarders like my sons.

In the calm water the 212 Festiva performance is predictable  and without vices. The power assisted steering means it responds quickly and goes where you want it. In fast, hard turns, it stays flat without excessive heel and if you get your trimming right then acceleration from the hole is very quick.

However it was in the confused sea at Lyttelton Heads that I  wanted to try the 212 Festiva and see if it had what it takes  to pass the standard set by most Kiwi buyers. There must be  something about a sterndrive  that makes a boat like this feel  so good in the water. Although  it didn’t like heading straight  into the steep, close-breaking  1.5m swells at 20/25mph, I felt
it would take more than I was prepared to give it. The 20 degree deadrise hull proved a little harsh on re-entry, especially when I got the prop airborne a few times.

With the unpredictable pattern of the sea I felt a more conservative approach was in order. Running  beam on or quartering the waves, I was well in control of the hull and found myself pushing the boat faster and faster as I got the measure of the water. In the following sea it holds its bow up with the full forward sections offering plenty of buoyant re-entry. All the time the decks and screen remained dry.

With a fully adjustable seat you can drive both seated or standing, with all the instrumentation in easy reach. Whilst the moulded fascia comes complete with all the instrumentation and switches you need, there is only limited space for extra electronics. You could have a problem fitting flush or bracket mounted sounders, gps or plotters, as limited areas are available.


The recent move by Rinker to full fibreglass liners has been a major plus for Kiwi buyers, especially those who tend to kick their fish all around the cockpit. Gone is the full carpet lining, to be replaced with easy-to-clean fibreglass and a clip-on carpet. This liner extends from the forward bulkhead right through to the transom and certainly makes for easier cleaning than in previous models.

Rinker call it a cuddy, but it’s probably closer to a full cabin that offers sitting headroom for a couple of adults and full-length berths. Two infills make the entire area one large bed, ideal for overnighting or a place to relax during the day.

Storage is in narrow side trays with soft double-rolled backrests and also under the squabs. Limited somewhat by space, the portable head is stowed out of the way under the aft bulkhead and pulled out only when needed. Double acrylic doors secure the cabin for privacy and security. Light and ventilation are by way of twin oval side ports and an overhead Bomar hatch with inbuilt bug screen.

The cockpit seating layout comes in two styles: either a single helm pedestal and passenger back-to-back, plus 51 litre Igloo cooler with seat cushion and twin rear jump seats, or the sport pack option with the back-to-back replaced by another single pedestal. The rear seats are removable or can be raised to an elevated position to form a full width rear sun lounger. The back-to-backs also fold out to make a second lounger. If you are going fishing you can leave the carpet and the rear seats at home.

An interesting feature of the 212 Festiva is the walkthough screen, complete with moulded steps from the cockpit and anti-skid on the fordeck. With no side decks this is the only way forward to do the anchoring, unless you fit a fully automatic system.

PSL Marine make a few modifications to the foredeck area, adding a good solid fairlead and repositioning the bow cleat to where the navigation light used to be. Factory fitted, the anchor hatch gets in the way when you’re bringing in the warp and chain and the lights are subject to being damaged by the anchor tackle.

Storage is available in four side shelves, under the back to back seat and in rear compartments. Underfloor space is taken up by the 158 litre aluminium fuel tank. The canopy and entire framework hide away snugly in their own space under the padded aft deck. It took under five minutes to erect the full canvas with side curtains and rear cover.

You can buy a Rinker only with MerCruiser power – no outboards – so the engine box becomes another seat, has a couple of drink holders built in and forms a great table for a light lunch. Although there is a removable snack table if you don’t want to mark your clean upholstery. Acoustical foam is used on the engine covers to reduce on-board engine noise.

Completing the layout is a wide moulded boarding area complete with three-step stainless fold-down ladder, ski hook and fuel filler. The 212 Festiva comes on a Shoreland’r multi roller tandem trailer, which is standard with brakes, flush kit and fibreglass guards. Shoreland’r are reportedly the biggest boat trailer manufacturer in the world and, whilst they cost over $2000 more than a regular ‘bunk’ trailer, PSL include them in the overall package price at no extra charge.


The Rinker 212 Festiva comes with just about everything and then some. It’s a boat that doesn’t make any pretence towards individual usage, but rates well as an all-rounder— something that Kiwi’s like, especially those with a young family. It may look prissy from the outside, but it’s certainly not that way inside, and it’s built for practical use.

Rinker pride themselves in their construction materials and building techniques, which combined produce a quality product that comes standard with a five-year limited hull warranty. The fit and finish of all componentry is excellent, with an emphasis on detail that is very evident throughout. Multiple layers of hand laid woven rovings are used, with decks of balsa core and Coremat and plywood core used in areas where hardware is through bolted. The hull is built with a fade-resistant gel coat and in the 212 a fibreglass stringer system is used.

Let’s be honest, you don’t really expect a boat like this to do speeds in the mid 60s. But why not! While 190hp is adequate, 300hp is a buzz. 


  • Model: 212 Festiva
  • Price As Tested: $51995 / $64000
  • Price Boat Only: NA
  • Designer: John Rinker
  • Materials: GRP
  • Type: cuddy
  • LOA: 6.34m
  • Beam:  2.48m
  • Hull Configuration: semi deep vee
  • Deadrise at Transom: 20 deg
  • Trailerable Weight: 1350kg / 1500kg
  • Engine Capacity: 190-300hp
  • Power Options: sterndrive only
  • Fuel Capacity: 158 litres
  • Cockpit LOA: 2.26m
  • Cabin LOA: 1.80m


4.3 L V6                               350 Magnum V8

2500                                    (15mph) @ 13.0 kts     (22mph) @19.0 kts

3000                                    (22mph) @ 19.0 kts     (38mph) @32.9 kts

3500                                    (31mph) @ 27.0 kts     (46mph) @39.9 kts

4000                                    (40mph) @ 34.7 kts     (55mph) @47.7 kts

4600/4800                      (50mph) @43.4 kts      (64mph) @ 55.5 kts


Walk-through full glass Taylor screen, full instrumentation, deck hardware, depth gauge, bilge pump, blower, tilt steering, Clarion cassette stereo, removable snack table, drink holders, Igloo cooler, portable toilet, full canvas pack, CD player (V8 boat only), Bomar deck hatch, Teleflex gauges and steering.


CD player (V6 boat only)


  • Make: MerCruiser
  • HP: 190               300
  • Model: 4.3L               350 Magnum
  • Cylinder Type: V6                  V8
  • Max RPM: 4600            4800
  • Propeller: 21” Vengance 21” Mirage Plus
  • Retail Price: $16082       $26980


  • Make: Shoreland’r (USA)
  • Model: 2040 Tandem
  • Braked: Yes
  • Suspension: springs
  • Rollers: Multi roller
  • Features: soft rollers, webbing strap, grp mudguards, washdown kits.
  • Price: NA                 


Rinker Boat Company Inc, 300 W. Chicago Street, Syracuse, Indiana 46567, USA.


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