Ukranian builder, Grand Marine, has been around for more than 15 years now and in that time, it has generated a remarkably comprehensive fleet. In addition to a four-way range of inflatable tenders, it offers a compact aluminium runabout, an entry-level ‘Silver’ line of RIBs from eight to 18 feet in length and a premier ‘Golden Line’, defined by greater size, more lavish materials, more complex deck furniture and more sophisticated levels of styling.
Brought into the UK courtesy of Wills Marine in South Devon, the company’s range-topping Gold line has been expanding of late. It now comprises seven craft, ranging from the modestly proportioned G340 to the new 12-man G850. Many of these are relatively fresh to the market, but having been introduced toward the start of 2017, to help straddle the gap between the popular G500 and G650 models, the new G580 represents a particularly exciting point in the range.
Making the size count
The extra scale of the new G580 over the established G500 brings some very clear benefits. For a start, it enables the use of a central two-man helm station with walkaround side decks rather than the standard, offset one-man helm station so commonly used on small family boats. In fairness, the G580’s console is still very compact, as it has to be for a boat with an internal beam of less than 1.5 metres - and that inevitably leaves the outside leg of both Skipper and co-pilot exposed to wind blast. But for its ability to free up deck space and to position the helmsman in the optimum driving position, it’s undoubtedly a big plus.
Further aft, the G580 is also large enough to benefit from Grand’s more complex aft bench set-up. Its wraparound mouldings engender a tremendous sense of containment and security that the flat and often quite shallow benches used elsewhere in the fleet can’t match. It comes with elevated armrests on both sides, as well as a pair of aft-facing grab handles and cupholders built into the back of the helm seats to help make a very effective space even more user-friendly.
There are also some steps built into the cones at the back ends of those textured Hypalon tubes, but given the use of extended swim platforms, plus a boarding ladder on the port side, these are better described as a ‘cosmetic curiosity’ than a practical asset.
Up at the bow, however, things are more conventional. You get a forward lounging platform, plus a seat built into the leading edge of the console and an infil to help join up the two. You also get a couple of cupholders and some usefully elevated steel rails built into the tube tops, making the bow feel quite deep and secure, even underway. The nose cone on the test boat is oddly naked, with no anchor rollers or fairleads, but in all other regards, the bow, like the cockpit, does a very credible job with limited proportions.
Steady and stable
It’s immediately plain that the G580 is a very stable boat, as proven by the ease with which you can make your way forward and aft, past the rail-lined console, even when underway at pace. That’s probably at least in part a consequence of the fact that the broad tubes play a very active role in the driving experience. Even on the plane, there’s still some of the collar at the aft end in contact with the water’s surface and in the turn that translates into a very stable feeling manoeuvre, as the buoyancy of the inside tube arrests the heel. It is noticeable though that the rubber strake on the outside of the collar is too shallow to deflect all of the spray. In fact, even on gentle waters with modest beam winds, minor wetness tends to find its way inboard with very little provocation.
In terms of your environment at the helm, the data displays are usefully shaded beneath a moulded lip at the top of the dash and the helm seats (a pair of leaning posts with flip-up seat bases) are very sound indeed. But it’s not perfect. There’s some warping of your vision through the curved screen; the console base needs a foot brace; the navigator needs a console-mounted grab handle; and the throttle needs to be positioned much lower down. As it is, the Skipper finds himself with his right hand continually up at shoulder-height – which can be uncomfortable over extended periods and quite inaccurate when you’re trying to make fine throttle adjustments.
Even so, this is a very sound driving RIB and while the new Yamaha F100 does a manful job of propelling the G580, it’s difficult not to hanker after something that takes greater advantage of the boat’s 150hp rating. It’s great news then that the package currently being offered by Wills Marine (July 2017) includes an Evinrude ETEC G2 115hp HO outboard. That ought to mean not just a simple increase in output, but exactly the kind of two-stroke-style torque, hole shot and throttle response the keen driver (not to mention the watersports fan) would want to see.
However, the extra calibre of the Wills Marine package doesn’t end there. It also comes with the sundeck and table kit, plus an overall cover, additional covers for the console and seats and protection packs for the keel and tubes. It even includes the SeaDek laminate flooring, an Admiral road trailer and an electronics pack, comprising a Garmin 55dv plotter/sounder, an Icom M323G fixed VHF/DSC radio and a Fusion MS-RA70 marine entertainment system. At a price of just £39,995, that transforms the very worthy test boat into a family package that is altogether more versatile and dynamic.
There’s no doubt that the G580’s helm could do with a few ergonomic tweaks and that the finish here and there could be executed with greater care. But with both the extra features and the extra grunt of the G2-equipped Wills Marine package, this is a safe, fun and affordable family boat, offering compelling value for money for the family boater in search of a dependable coastal runabout.
Grand G580 specifications
Internal length: 4.27m
Internal beam: 1.45m
Tube diameter: 0.5m
People capacity: 10
Maximum power: 150hp
Test engine: Yamaha F100
Contact: Grand Boats / Wills Marine