Sea Legs 12RC Review

by admin


Story and Images by Richard Milner

 Sealegs 12RC takes the amphibious boat to a whole new level. Richard Milner spend a few hours on Auckland Harbour putting the new boat through its paces and came away impressed.


What started in 2001 as an idea on a napkin, like all great success stories of kiwi ingenuity, has grown to become a success story of kiwi boat building some 20 years later and some 1500 boats on the water, and let’s not forget the beach too.

For those that don’t know, Sealegs combines one of New Zealand’s privileges of great boating with trouble-free launching, retrieving, and going ashore and exploring our beautiful coastline. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Sealegs boats have gone worldwide in recreational and commercial operations and are now in more than 55 countries. It’s a true testament to New Zealand boat building.

It is fair to say that there have been other designs for boats with wheels, but Sealegs were the first, and they certainly know how to stay out in front.


The drive train is genuinely remarkable and combines some great features. Whether you are using the Sealegs System 70, 100 or even the Sealegs Electric, some neat, important, and innovative features put the Sealegs Amphibious drive system at the forefront of amphibious technology.

All wheel drive. This provides the maximum power to transition your boat to shore and where you need to go. Some manufacturers only have the rear wheels powered, which can cause the front wheel to dig into the beach. Having the front wheel powered also enables better steering.

Automatic Braking System. The rear wheels automatically engage the brakes when you stop. No accidents with the boat heading downhill while you’re having a picnic, and it’s also great in case of malfunction.

Enhanced Power Steering (EPS). While in boat mode, the front wheel remains straight – it’s not connected to the engine steering. Not the best look on some amphibious systems but not a Sealegs. When you put the wheels down, it engages the steering for the front wheel, and the EPS engages the steering. It’s all automatic, seamless and a smooth amphibious experience.

The series 100 system on the Sealegs 12RC has been used commercially and benefited from military applications making it strong, robust, and perfect for up to 7500kg of boat. It can be driven up to 6km/hr (on the Sealegs 12RC) with over 10000nm torque. Imagine asking your ute to provide that kind of power. It’s diesel-powered and can climb up to 15-degree slopes. Just thinking about the opportunities gives me goosebumps.


No other ambitious manufacturer has had the nerve to go after the larger boat series like SeaLegs. I can’t express enough how standing on the launching area at Westhaven and looking up at a 12m basking in the spring sunshine felt. The Sealegs 12RC had mana. Not just a little but a lot. It said bring it on.

The Sealegs 12RC is a brave move for a 12m boat. It’s not your typical floating holiday home of many other designs. It’s not baked in suede and soft touches, but it’s practical and well presented, from the generous cockpit to the modest cabin area. I can’t help but wonder whether it’s what you want from a 12m boat. Let’s find out.

While the 12m is overkill at a concrete ramp, I have to admit it’s pretty cool transitioning to the water. Simply get going, and it drives just like a car. Typically I’m reversing the tandem trailer down the ramp, cursing the other boaties that can’t back their 4m tinny straight. Then the whole launching process; setting the hitch, taking it off the trailer, tying it up, driving some unearthly distance since our beloved council changed the trailer parking to small car parking and then yellow lines for six streets, and walking back. Well, not today.

Today we simply drove down the ramp, started the engines and left the marina. Until you have experienced it, you can’t understand how easy it is to launch and retrieve, and you would never go back to a trailer. But what is more impressive is the Sealegs 12RC is a 12m vessel and not really what you would classify as a trailer boat. I couldn’t see myself taking a 12m Genesis to the boat ramp. So, by the time we left the ramp and headed past the ferry terminal – some 15 mins later, I recall thinking I’d still be walking from the car to the ramp. PURPOSEFUL The Sealegs 12RC immediately gives the impression of practical boating. Its large cockpit and functional design are spacious and purposeful, with people and openness in mind. The forward helm is a stroke of intentional genius. It’s quite a neat experience to be so far forward. It’s a comfortable feeling with wrap-around visibility. I do have to admit the large rail and bowsprit that houses the front wheel is imposing, but you soon get used to it.

When approaching the beach, a camera is in the wheel well, which sorts that blind spot out.

The helm is clean win large MFDs, all the switches and necessary equipment easy to hand and the controls for the wheels are housed in a comfortable position whether standing or sitting. A pedestal helm seat bolstered for sitting, leaning, or standing gives you the best options. Given my usual leaning preference, there was tons of room to lean comfortably with everything in easy reach.

The curved screen, which is becoming a regular occurrence on kiwi boats, gives you heaps of space, isn’t claustrophobic and gives you great vision. Both port and starboard windows slide back for fresh air, and overhead are two powered sunroofs. It is light and airy, which is a great feature.



The Sealegs 12RC is fitted with a port dining area with a reversible forward seat for daytime cruising or entertaining. This folds down to overnight in a reasonably comfortable double berth. Behind the helm is a galley with a sink and double burner, fridge, and storage.

It is practical and functional. Separating you from the elements is a double door and an electric window behind the seating area, which opens the interior to give maximum connection with the cockpit. A real entertainers must.

The forward cabin is practical with no frills attached. It has a sleeping area for three at a push. I am 190cm tall, and it was perfect for me. The port side has a toilet under the seat, with the inflatable tubes taking up some of the cabin volume. Under the tubes, there is a shelf on each side to store items, along with storage under the squabs. The cabin is fully carpet-lined, plus there is a forward top hatch for light and air.

The foredeck is functional with a bow rail, deck tread and a drum winch. However, with all the controls at the helm, there is no real need to venture forward of the helm. The roof houses enough rod holders for the extended family, space for all the electronics and even some water toys for the kids.


The cockpit is extra-large with four fitted seats and heaps of sitting area on the tubes. There is impressive underfloor storage, a full-width work area, and large sliding drawers over the engine bay for the wheels. The cockpit is self-draining through large grates. There is no walk-through transom on the Sealegs 12RC, which I first thought was a massive failure, but the team at Sealegs just smirked as they hit a button and on the starboard, side a swim platform with ladder slid out at water level. Wow. Now I want one.

The Sealegs 12RC is powered by twin Yamaha 425hp outboards giving just over 38kts at WOT on standard props. The team at Sealegs assure me much more is possible with re-propping. But at 12m and 38kts, who wouldn’t be happy with that? Oh, wait, it’s me. More is always desirable.

The Sealegs 12RC comfortably cruises at 4000rpm, doing 23kts and burning a combined 97l/hr. I have to admit though, this big boat feeling had me pushing the hammer down.

Coupled with the soft riding tubes, excellent manoeuvrability under power and tight space agility with onboard Yamaha technology, it’s an impressive system. Sealegs also tell me that the hull is capable of much more power and could easily handle a pair of Mercury 600s.



The Sealegs 12RC is an impressive example of what can be achieved as a dayboat and weekender for the boys or a family that doesn’t need the soft pleasures. Sealegs also reminded me this is just one layout, and other options are available in the 12RC range. An aft toilet, trim changes, and different helm positions are all achievable. Sealegs welcomes that customer interaction. This particular boat was off to South Australia to be used commercially in the charter industry,

While cruising home at a comfortable cruise speed of WOT, the journey from Motuihe to just short of the inner harbour speed restriction boundary was a tickle over 10 minutes. Ok, so how much? Sealegs said as fitted with all the fruit you would expect and those impressive twin Yamaha outboards, she is worth in the vicinity of $1.35million. I have to admit this left me a little stunned. But when you compare it to its competition.

But wait, there is no competition in this market that can take a 12m vessel to the beach and beyond. You don’t need a tender and don’t get your feet wet. Coupled with the performance and practicality, the price becomes a small consideration.

This particular Sealegs is one of a kind and a real winner. I look forward to seeing more of them, and I’m eager to see how this market grows.


  • Model & Model: Sealegs 12RC
  • Designer: Hall Marine & C4 Design
  • Priced from: $NZ1.35m
  • Type: Cabin  RIB  
  • Construction: 6mm Alloy
  • LOA: 11.7m      
  • Beam: 3.63m 
  • Deadrise: 15 degrees  
  • Hght – Wheels Down: 3.53m
  • Hght – Wheels Up: 2.84m
  • Sealegs System: System 100
  • Tyres: 17”
  • Brakes: Hydrostatic
  • Run Time On Land: 30 min
  • On Land Power: 94hp Petrol
  • Max Incline on Land: 11-14 deg 
  • Rec Power: 2 x Yamaha 425 
  • Power options: Outboard Only
  • Fuel Capacity: 500 litres     
  • Manufacturer:

Performance Information: Sealegs 12RC

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