We live in a world where predictable homogeny often wins out over individuality. Time and again, you see new boats featuring the same mouldings, the same layouts and the same tediously competent armoury of talents as their competitors. And of course, in a world where a boat builder needs to do his best to avoid alienating his potential customers, you can see why mediocrity is often a safer route than a brazen commitment to a fresh direction. But from the first moment you lay eyes on the Zego, you know this is something altogether more interesting.
With twin-hulls, an outboard engine, a remote helm unit and polyethylene construction all crammed together on a small, affordable two-man leisure craft, to say that the Zego is unusual is an understatement of comic proportions. And yet, despite its evident novelty, the Zego shares conceptual similarities with the relatively famous twin-hulled, surf-munching Zapcats and Thundercats that we see on the UK’s race circuits. Obviously, the Zego is more sedate and composed than the fast and flighty inflatable race cats, and that was always likely to be the case with the extra weight of its polyethylene construction and remote helm console. But the Zego remains a boat where helming fun is the key feature - so just how good is it to drive?
On of the major assets of the Zego from a dynamic perspective is the low centre of gravity - and as I put the boat through her paces in the steep, shattered swells of the Solent, the benefits of that quickly become apparent. Despite her twin hulls, there is a confidence-inspiring monohull-style heel into the turn that helps keep the wetness from the outside of the arc at bay. The froth merely flicks at the underside of the aluminium bow platform as the sponsons grip the water - and while the turn is very controllable, the arc is sufficiently vigorous to have you straining to grip the jockey seat and keep your body position stable in the boat.
Even so, the relatively heavyweight build, modest power and lateral stability of the twin hulls combine to ensure that ride of this boat is characterised more by composure than white knuckles. We have the maximum 30hp outboard on the transom of the test boat and yet I feel robbed of the grunt I require - particularly in the absence of electric trim. When you try to elevate the nose down the back of a wave with a blip of the throttle, there is often no extra power available to achieve it. You could of course alter the trim on the go by shifting your weight forward and back on the jockey seat, but it only costs an extra few hundred pounds to specify electric trim and tilt, so it is really an option you should take.
Polyethylene construction is quite surprising for a leisure boat of this style and type. After all, it’s not pretty, it’s not refined and it’s not especially lightweight or cheap, but its practical everyday merits are not in doubt. It is resistant to salt, punctures, delamination and many of the other problems that affect inflatables and fibreglass boats. It will also take a good beating and, because the production process sees the pigment running consistently throughout the material, even a deep scuff is easily repaired.
With the Zego’s rugged construction, there’s obviously no need to be overly concerned about bumping alongside or dragging the hulls up a pebbly beach. And with the dry storage inside the seat, allied to a broad open bow space, plus rod holders and a ski pole, the boat is well set up to offer most of the pursuits the average UK boater enjoys.
This boat is also quite practical from a safety perspective, not least because about two thirds of the hull space is filled with closed cell foam. This means that, even if you were to compromise both hulls, the Zego would remain afloat and operational, with the engine, battery and fuel supply all functioning normally above the flooded waterline.
As regards the everyday ownership experience, the all-in boat weight of just 190kg means you can tow it with any car, launch and recover it on your own and manoeuvre the trailer by hand. You can wakeboard behind it, beach it without concern, fish from it or use it as a platform for a swimming session. You can also get on and off from the bow, the stern or the beam, so when you begin to use it, the Zego actually proves itself a far more sensible boating option than you might imagine. The real problem is that it is only rated to carry two people - at least one person fewer than average three-metre inflatable. This means that, while it may look a like a fun family vessel, it is better viewed as a solitary plaything or a stable and durable safety boat.
If you equipped the Zego with electric trim and tilt, a whole load of dry bags and a stainless prop, it would encompass a broad range of boating pastimes for a very accessible price. It is simple to buy, store, launch, drive and maintain - and despite appearances, it is not a rip-snorting thrill ride but a composed and oddly sensible means of transit. If generous seating space and muted styling are on your wish list, you will certainly need to discard the Zego and look elsewhere. But if you want an affordable toy that is more grown-up and more useable than most, take a long hard look at the Zego.
An ex-demo model (with four-stroke 30hp Tohatsu) is now available at £6,600, while the price new (option 1, as tested) is from £7,350 For more details contact Redrourke Racing.