Whether you want to call it a day cruiser, an overnighter, a weekender or a sports cuddy, a compact sports boat with a forward cabin can be a very exciting thing. It’s a tough task blending the lightweight dexterity of an open sports boat with serviceable sleeping facilities - particularly as effectiveness in one regard tends to diminish effectiveness in the other. But while a great many cuddies struggle to strike the right balance, the following ten platforms do more than enough to warrant your attention.
1. Bayliner VR5
Bayliner is very good at compact cruising boats, as illustrated by the buying public’s continued regard for the 642. But despite being slightly shorter, the more recent VR5 has a broader beam, more space in the forward part of the cabin, a rating to carry eight (rather than seven) people and a slightly larger fuel tank. Equipped with an outboard, the storage is also huge – and for many, that combination of talents makes it an even more convincing weekend companion.
2. Cormate T24
This well built and beautiful looking Norwegian sports boat employs a centre console arrangement on top of a soft-riding, race-derived hull with a 25-degree deadrise. As a standard package, it’s good for 40 to 50 knots and in Supersport (350hp) guise, it boasts a 54-knot top end. The convertible sunpad running fore and aft in the centre of the cockpit is usefully versatile, but it’s the combination of a very useable cabin alongside a relatively sheltered and deepset foredeck sunbathing area that is particularly impressive. If you can handle the premium price, this high-calibre Norwegian speed machine is a very tempting option. See also Cormate T27 and Cormate U23 R.
3. Sting 610 DC
Sting, a new Norwegian brand, designed by Espen Thorup and built in Poland at the same factory as XO’s award-winning craft, offers an excellent point of entry to the world of practical, user-friendly leisure craft. However, the 610 DC feels more solid, more mature, more grown up somehow than a compact cuddy from the most famous budget brands. Meanwhile, the space in the cabin is improved by means of a fulsome forward hull section, the cockpit seating is unstinting and with a 150hp outboard, this is a 43-knot boat with plenty of sporting ability. It’s by no means the last word in luxury but the quality is good, the practicality is impressive and the price is a steal. See our full review of the Sting 610.
4. Jeanneau Cap Camarat 6.5 WA
While everyone is talking about Jeanneau’s new BR line (which has arrived in 2017 to supplement the established Centre Console, Walkaround and Day Cruiser variants), the 6.5 WA remains one of the strongest boats in the Cap Camarat fleet. While you could just as easily opt for the 6.5 DC, the WA version adds better deck space, enhanced freedom of movement and a very attractive bow section. They’re by no means the most heavily built boats in the world, but after 20 years in production, with three modern variants on this same 6.5-metre platform, it’s a sound choice.
5. Yamarin 65 Day Cruiser
Ever since the company’s aluminium ‘Cross’ line started fluttering its hybrid eyelashes at Europe’s boating public, Yamarin has been trying to reinvent its fibreglass range in a bid to keep pace. It’s exactly this ambition that brought about the creation of the rather flawed Yamarin 81 DC flagship. But while the traditional Yamarin fibreglass day cruisers might be losing out to more modern looking craft, they remain unerringly good. The 65 DC is a case in point. It comes with a safe family cockpit, a perfectly serviceable cabin, a fine helming experience and a power rating from 115 to 225hp for performance of up to 46 knots. It might feel a bit dated in parts, but this is a cuddy you can buy with the utmost confidence. Also see Yamarin 61CC.
6. Beneteau Flyer 6.6 Sundeck
The concept of the Flyer, with three layout options on a compact selection of identical hulls, continues to work very well. If you want an open boat with great freedom of movement, you buy the Spacedeck; if you want a bowrider-style layout with an optional wakeboard tower, you buy the Sportdeck; and if you want the sun (or indeed the cuddy cabin that lurks beneath that cushion-lined bow), you buy the Sundeck. It comes with a 200hp outboard, seating for eight, a small cabin with optional marine toilet and a convertible double berth in the cockpit. I still reckon a lot of that pretty trim looks like it would give up the ghost in a stiff breeze, but it won European Powerboat of the Year in 2015 and it remains right up there for value. See Beneteau Flyer 6: three layouts, one video tour.
7. Finnmaster T7
Hot on the heels of Finmaster’s delightful T8 comes the smaller, more affordable T7. It brings lots of the same style, those same sexy, feline docking lights, the same basic cabin configuration and (at a metre shorter and half a tonne lighter) slightly more in the way of handling dexterity. The cabin, with its diagonal double berth and port seat, is impressively bright, the second berth (or large storage space) beneath the cockpit sole is very handy and with a Yamaha F250 on the transom, it’s good for 42 very entertaining knots. See Finnmaster T7 First Look Video.
8. Clear Aries Cabin
This delicious looking Italian thoroughbred is only a shade over 20 feet but it offers a very decent double berth, allied to a small galley and space for a heads with sink. Up top, the compact cockpit is limited in seating and restricted in forward visibility but with a huge, flat foredeck sunpad, easy embarkation all round, a very attractive palette of materials and a race derived hull, this remarkably desirable outboard-powered boat is a real treat for the keen driver as well as the style-conscious sun-worshiper.
9. Quicksilver Activ 755 Cruiser
It might carry the ‘Activ’ label but the new Scandinavian-style 755 cruiser from Quicksilver is altogether different - and the reason is that it’s basically an Uttern D70. It comes with an impressively convertible dinette on the port side of the cockpit, plus an alfresco galley and a choice of outboard engines from 150 to 300hp. Down below, big hull windows offer plenty of light and fine views and you even get a full heads compartment to starboard. It’s a Scandinavian sports cuddy of genuine quality with a starting price below £50,000 and it’s very tough to argue with that. See First Look Video: Quicksilver 755.
10. Windy 26 Kharma
It’s a matter for great rejoicing that Windy does a boat too small and slick to qualify as a proper cruiser, because it means I can include it here without risking a backlash. Arguably of course, every Windy prioritises performance over accommodation, but in the form of its most modest offering, we have a fast, soft, open water distance maker with a fixed double berth and the option of a sea toilet. Pick the top-rated 300hp engine and this is a fearsome piece of weekending equipment from an undisputed master of the art.
See also our features on Fast weekenders and Five of the best family powerboats.