This small and dynamic Turkish company may be named after a decorative tree, but Yuka certainly know how to build sexy and stylish boats. Both the directors are keen racing enthusiasts, and part of their modern factory at Tuzla, near Istanbul, is dedicated to building high performance catamarans. However, in another part of the factory, the sleek hulls of four main models, the 700 Open Bow, the 10M Cruiser, the 580 Speedster and the 700 Classic are all being hand built by a team of dedicated and highly skilled craftsmen.
Test driving the Yuka
Boats.com was given a ride out in two of Yuka’s models during a press open day, and both craft impressed us with their build quality and performance. Perhaps it’s the racing heritage, but these boats ooze a stylish competence. In keeping with the Riva mindset, the basic concept is based on the look and feel of the classic American convertible sportscar, but with unashamed Italian styling.
As such, the 7.1m (22ft) 700 Classic gives you deeply comfortable cream-coloured leather seats, a wrap around tinted windscreen, and a beautifully styled mahogany dashboard with inlaid chrome-trimmed instruments. Drop that into a hull that offers the tracking and handling of a deep-vee, along with a reverse sheer, and a distinctive barrel-back, and the end result is a sportsboat that would happily grace the embarkation platform of any discerning superyacht.
Grace and pace
The look of the boat is so retro 50s, and the amount of timber so profilic, you could be forgiven for thinking she was actually a beautifully restored example from that era. In fact, the hulls are moulded in composite GRP to produce a high strength-to-weight ratio, another throwback from the racing scene. The exteriors are invariably finished in blue gel coat, and the colour schemes of cream, mahogany and dark blue work well together. For example, the blue gel is taken in a sweep around the foredeck to make the inlaid deck an island behind a rich hardwood gunwale trim. But it doesn’t just end with good looks. With the grace comes the pace.
Power for the 700 Classic comes from a single Mercury 4.3 litre MPI 220hp petrol engine working via a Bravo 3 outdrive leg. Petrol engines are always remarkably quiet, and lighter (and initially less expensive) than diesels, and this unit purrs away in its large engine bay like a restless tiger. As a neat design touch, a series of windows along the spine of the barrel back allows you to look directly down onto the engine. There is probably a practical reason for this – tick over is so quiet you may want to check the flywheel is actually turning, but in reality it’s mostly a fashion statement. When not inviting quayside sightseers to admire the polished rocker cover, the aft deck can be converted into a single sunbed.
Layout and design
The engine bay itself is also very neatly laid out. Learning from the running repairs needed in the racing scene, the designers have made all key systems highly accessible, with all major hoses and other vital ancillaries either securely bolted, well-strapped, or double clipped into place. This is a boat designed for throwing around with impunity.
The 700 Classic, as with all of the Yuka range, is awash with stainless steel, the highly polished metal fittings contrasting sharply with both the deep blue hull, and the beautifully inlaid mahogany deck. Multiple coats of faultless varnish on all the woodwork make this boat gleam. All the stainless-steel work and hardwood joinery is done in house, so there is a degree of customisation available. Indeed, the Yuka website allows potential new owners to configure their new boats on line.
Out on the water
Out on the water, the Classic 700 doesn’t disappoint. We went out loaded with four adults, all finding enough room to stretch out and lounge. The large space under the foredeck takes some additional cushions if you wanted to sleep out, but there are no cooking or toilet facilities on board.
The engine pushed the boat up onto the plane relatively easily – use of trim is recommended, especially if the rear seats are occupied - and once there hurled us along at speeds of up to about 30 knots. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to measure the exact velocity. The boat turned well, partly due to her deep-vee, and with a gratifying amount of lean-in, giving thrill seekers a look down into the languid waters of the bay as the 700 Classic described a very tight circle.
The windscreen offers full protection to the helmsman from the wind and spray, but as with all fixed screens with a solid top trim, this trim could interfere with the eye-line of some of the drivers. If you wanted to look over the top, you would have to half stand in the helm seat, but this could easily be solved with a bolster, or a custom screen if preferred.
The baby sister
The smaller 5.8m (18ft 6in) 580 Speedster uses the same concept as the 700 Classic, but being smaller and more compact, also gives a more startling performance. In the boat we tried, the owner had swapped the standard Mercury 3-litre 135hp petrol unit for a more gutsy V6 220hp version, so our boat was somewhat overpowered. The standard unit can provide up to 40 knots of performance, but we daren’t try full throttle on the 220, not with several expensive yachts moored nearby. It was more of a ballistic missile than a sportsboat.
Performance, even overpowered, was terrific, with additional lift aft coming from two tail-fin style spray rails that also helped with tracking in a tight turn.
Both boats were striking to look at, handled well, and oozed sex appeal. Whilst only intended as runabouts, they would nevertheless provide an exciting day put on the water, with the ability to sunbathe on the fore or aft decks when anchored. You could also sleep out on the 700 (specifications right). One obvious role would be as a tender for a large, luxury yacht, allowing the owners to come ashore in style, and at some speed. We were most impressed with the build quality throughout, which was hard to fault, and the hand-finished nature of each model leaves some scope for adding your own personal touches.
For more details see Yuka Yachts.