by Jarrod Day
Last month we took the Robalo R180 for a test run and put it through its paces and this month we decided that we wanted something a little bigger to explore. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but Scott from Chaparral, Victoria was more than happy to pass on the keys to the next model in line, the Robalo R200.
The Robalo R200 is an impressive walkaround.
Like all the Robalo’s in the range, safety and security are of high priority and there is no better feeling than to stand in a boat for the first time while underfoot you instantly get that safe feeling. This is testament of the quality and personal touches that go into building such a magnificent water craft.
Having stepped into the R200 I was keen to dive right in and check out all its ins and outs. Similar to that of the R180, a sturdy well designed stainless steel bow rail wrapped right around the front. When anchoring, the bow rail is within easy grabbing distance should conditions be uncomfortable and you need to hold on. Mind you, the bow rail runs right back inline with the center console so there is always somewhere to hold onto without the need to really look around to find something, just reach out in any direction and there will be a grab rail nearby.
As you step back into the bow area, two very comfortable seats run either side. If your out for a leisure cruise, nothing can beat kicking back with the salty air blowing in your face on a hot summers evening. For an angler, though these two seats might not get too much use, it is under them that allows plenty of stowage. Both cushioned seats lift up and you can store heaps of stuff in here.
The bow seats have plenty of stowage under them.
The transom is set out well with rear a rear casting deck and live well.
Once again simply by turning around your instantly faced with another seat forward of the helm and just like the R180, simply unclip the chair and it opens up to reveal plenty more storage and a toilet which is optional. I really like the idea of a toilet in a boat such as this. How many girlfriends, wife’s, children and mothers love fishing but may feel uncomfortable because of the lack of one of life’s little luxuries. Well, stop the boat, Robalo encounter for the entire family which is a great option if you have the need.
The front od the centre console has plenty of stowage and provisions for a porta pottie.
Either side of the bow is a neatly configured grab rail level with the gunwales. When moving about, it is very easy to grab should you be in slightly rough conditions.
The centre console will see most of the action no doubt and being the main station for all boating has been designed extremely well for all occasions. The sturdy aluminum T Topper has plenty of well designed features. What I was most impressed with was the how solid the T Topper itself was. No matter where you walked past it, there was somewhere to hold onto and its specific mounting location was no problem even when casting, you never had to worry that it would get in the way.When, walking past the center console you would think it would be quite tight on a smaller vessel but with the R200 the average sized man could easily walk through to the bow without side stepping, testament of the 2.53m beam.
The T Topper is very sturdy and offers rod storage in the rocket launcher.
The console itself was fitted with a Garmin GPSmap 5008 but with the spacious dash there is more than enough room to mount a unit with a 12' screen should you require one. Two switch panels and two Garmin gauges fitted out the dash but there is still plenty of room for other additions if you plan their positions at the time of purchasing the boat.
Standing at the helm, the steering wheel was a perfect height for me and the windscreen was quite large for this size boat enabling excellent viewing right around the front ¾’s of the vessel. The side gunwales are quite wide which an advantage is if you have to stand on them to spot tuna or salmon in the ocean. You can easily hold onto the T Topper, be sturdy underfoot and see from a higher vantage point.
Inside the gunwales on either side were two rod holders. For larger rods it is a little tight to fit in but manageable. If you had to get a rod out quick for some explosive tuna action, you may have a hard time but, the T-Topper does have four rod holders in the Rocket Launcher anyway. Still, the gunwale rod holders are good storage for smaller boat rods.
Gunwhale rod storage is suitable for smaller rods.
In the bottom corners of the boat there are two draining holes to rid any unwanted deck water quickly along with a fitted hose mount for a deck wash. This makes cleaning the boat easy when on the water to save time in the car wash.
Ever since driving the R180, I have fallen in love with the helm chair. It is comfortable, the right height and placed in the perfect position. Though it dose need some storage in the back rest; overall, it is a great addition to a magnificent boat. Under the helm chair is more than enough room to mount a reasonable sized esky and due to the chair height, the lid of the esky can still be opened without having to pull it out to access.
The transom itself has been configured well with storage, safety and space in mind. Accessing the oil and batteries is easy simply by lifting the rear seats and with the backrest being able to be laid down creating a non-slip rear casting deck, you have the ability to cast everywhere.
At speed, the back rests are very strong and with the added grunt of the Honda 150 you could feel you body being sucked back into the seat.
Between the seats is a nice 15 gallon live well which has the capacity to hold more than enough live bait or your catch while on the water.
On this model, I was very pleased with the purpose built bait board which has been hard mounted to the transom. The board itself is quite large and offers more rod holders for trolling purposes. Should you be at anchor bait fishing, you might want to consider a set of three-way rod holders or have a local stainless steel manufacture design a set of removable snapper racks if you’re really serious about fishing. If you’re a leisure person who just likes to dabble in fishing then you’d be impressed with the ski tow rail and stainless steel boarding ladder on the transom.
The transom is set out well with rear a rear casting deck and live well.
My test boat was fitted with e Honda 150 which for this model had more than enough grunt to power in the open swells. Unfortunately we were lacking wind chop but the flat rolling swell still aloud us to get see some good handling performance. Should you be heading offshore, the boat sits really well in the water while under power and its deep V hull designs disperses any water spray right away from the boat. This is great for a centre console as they are traditionally a wet boat but not the cast with the R200. Obviously you would expect some spray with winder conditions but the hulls designs are specific to keeping water spray to a minimum. As for stability, the 18 degree deadrise keeps the boat quite still on the water. Sure if you had a few anglers on one side of the boat, the boat would tip to the side but still nothing to be worried about. If you were drifting for bottom dwelling species, the boats sits quite nice, still and with the added grab rails around and toe rails, fishing even in choppy conditions will be more than bearable.
The hull design is superior keeping excess water outside the boat.
At the end of the day, the R200 has everything for those that like to play on the water and as a family boat; there is so much you can do with this model. Whether it is a spot of offshore fishing or just a run around a calm lake, the R200 can fulfill every boaters needs.
Price as tested $79,500
If you think this boat has as much merit as I do, contact Chaparral Australia on (03) 9397-6977 for more information on the Robalo R200.
Robalo R200 Specifications:
Spec/Capacity US Metric
LOA: 20' 7' 6.27 m
Beam: 8' 4' 2.53 m
Bridge Clearance: 7' 4' 2.24 m
Bridge Clearance with T-Top: 9' 2.74 m
Deadrise: 18 ° 18 °
Fuel Capacity: 70 gal 265 L
Draft Down: 30' 76 cm
Draft Up: 15' 38 cm
Max HP: 200 hp 149 kW
Dry Weight w/ Engines: 3000 lbs 1361 kg
Passenger Capacity (NMMA): 8 Persons/ 1,200 lbs
Full bow Rail Bow Cushions Ski Tow
Raw Water Wash Rod holders Console Cover
Aluminum T-Top with canvas Porta Pottie Sound System
Leaning post cover Wide Band black hull colour Garmin 5008 with GSD sounder
Dual Battery set up Hydraulic Tilt Steering GMI 10 Digital Gauge pack
Baitboard (retro fitted) Two-tone gelcoat on console Anchor
Easytow Tandem fish and sports trailer - custom build
*Available from: $61,999 (on Magic Tilt trailer, with 115hp)
There is easy access to the anchor well with full stainless steel Bow rail.
The centre console has plenty of room for all your electronics.