Just a brief search of Britain’s used boat pages will quickly illustrate how prominent Draco boats used to be throughout Europe in the 1970s and 80s (search all secondhand Draco boats for sale on www.boats.com). For a decade or so, this Norwegian builder was one of the Continent’s biggest powerboat manufacturers, specialising in small open sports boats and hard top runabouts – and today, the great many used examples still around are warmly appreciated by an active Draco fan club. It was a sombre day when Windy ceased production of the brand back in 2002 but now, this iconic 50-year old marque has been brought back to life with a boat that very much echoes the ethos that saw the original company win so much appreciation.
Join boats.com reviewer Alex Smith for a quick video tour of the boat: Draco 27 RS video: first look aboard.
On board the 27 RS
Modern Draco boats are built in the same Polish factory as Windy’s own highly regarded product line, and the moment you lay eyes on it, it is plain that the quality here remains very high. From the telescopic ladder in its stainless steel, letter-slot receptacle to the glossy black topsides, the deep upholstery and the finish of the decking, this feels like a premium product – and the presence of a Yamaha F300 outboard on the transom (not to mention a £120,000 price tag on the screen) reinforces that initial impression.
It is also interesting to note that there is a certain Windy resonance in terms of some of the fabrics, fittings and design ideas – so much so that when you sit this boat alongside a couple of Windy sports cruisers, it looks and feels like it could almost be a smaller sibling. And yet make no mistake: despite sharing some of Windy’s expertise and building facilities, this is a new boat from a very distinct brand with a flavour all of its own.
Windy boats feature regularly in our boats.com 'top 10' lists, including: Powerboat Bucket List: 10 Best Boats to Drive.
Step on board and the accommodation is extraordinarily deep throughout. In the cockpit, twin transom gates lead forward, past a central four-man seating pod, to a helm station set beneath a robust screen with a beautifully integrated stainless steel handrail. Here, as elsewhere, the bulwarks are very high indeed – and that welcome security continues in the bow, where some very generous seating helps supplement that of the modest aft arrangement. Now plainly, even on a bow rider, people are often reluctant to spend much time in the bow space when underway, partly because of the uncompromising stiffness of the ride and partly because of the relative shallowness of the accommodation. But in addition to the welcome reassurance of the deepset seating, that steep, acutely angled forefoot ought to mean plenty of ride softness, particularly given Windy’s deserved renown in the dark arts of hull design. Chuck in a full-length infil that can turn the entire section into a huge sunpad for a very safe and relaxed spot of lounging and this is a very effective bow space, even by the standards of a 27-footer.
Options and improvements
Among the most notable options are a real or synthetic teak deck, plus a wide range of hull colours, a radio with Bluetooth, a cockpit fridge and a removable ski pole. The ‘Comfort package’ (with its heads, fresh water system and sink) also makes good sense for those looking to maximise this boat’s useability, as does the tonneau cover for the cockpit and bow section.
However it’s the ingenious ‘Camper Canopy’ that really steals the show. This elevated canvas enables you to transform that big bow space into a floating tent with standing headroom and access to the cockpit via a full-height door in the middle of the walkthrough screen. In fact, it essentially turns this very open and uncluttered boat into a cuddy – but without any of the issues endemic to the type. That means no limited headroom, no extra weight, no unduly inflated price and no reduction in external deck space. As high-value options go, it’s a real belter.
Elsewhere, despite the fact that this is the first of the new Dracos, the conceptual clarity appears very sound. In fact, there are only a couple of very isolated areas that still look in need of greater consideration or development. For instance, the lid on the central seating unit is quick and effective in terms of its transition from seat to sunpad and back again, but it makes accessing the contents of the storage section in the seat base quite awkward. Similarly, although the hidden step and walk-through rail at the bow is very effective, the closed mouldings are under-utilised in terms of their storage potential - and because the seat in the V of the bow is immovable, there is only very limited access to the hatch above the bow thruster.
Back in the cockpit, the removable table around which the seating revolves is a rather small, flimsy, cheap looking plastic affair. That’s often good enough on a pocket money runabout, but on a boat with high-end aspirations from a stable of this quality, a solid teak affair would plainly be more appropriate. And finally, we need to mention the heads compartment, which is so compact that a six-footer has to crane his neck at a right angle in order to perch on the loo and close the door. However, this can’t be counted as an unqualified criticism because any heads compartment is better than none and it will rightly be viewed as a major bonus on an open, deck-intensive boat like the Draco.
The 27 RS is a very modern interpretation of the much-loved Draco. It doesn’t betray itself with slavish adherence to retro style and nor does it pander to the imperatives of modern showroom glitter. It is simple, spacious, classical and clean. Build quality feels great, finish is generally well up to scratch and while the aft configuration doesn’t push as hard as it might to exploit the available space, that bow is a very impressive piece of work. Unsurprisingly, this ‘Renaissance Draco’ has already been nominated for recognition in the 2015 European Powerboat of the Year awards. The only real question for those of you with a penchant for the brand is whether that premium price takes it out of your reach. If so, it’s time to revisit the used pages. If not, it’s time to get excited.
Draco 27 RS: Specifications
Engine: Yamaha F300
Fuel capacity: 230 litres
Water capacity: 42 litres
Max speed: 44 knots
Designer: Hans J Johnsen / Dubois