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November 01, 2006

Robalo R260

Throughout my earliest boating memories, I recall the name Robalo. I was just 10 when the brand launched, but I remember an overarching desire to have one...

Throughout my earliest boating memories, I recall the name Robalo. I was just 10 when the brand launched, but I remember an overarching desire to have one. I suppose it was something about the boat's lines and sturdy build. I know I felt the same about the 1968 Camaro.

Unfortunately, I've never owned either a Robalo or a Camaro, but I can still appreciate both. 

Performance
I was more than pleased with the Robalo R260 center console during my test ride off Tarpon Springs, Florida, in late September. It proved its superb seaworthiness in a sloppy 3-foot chop as I put it through some rigorous paces.

Running at all directions to the seas, we maintained a comfortable ride with only slight tab adjustments. Even when I tried stabbing the bow into the back of a wave, we took on no water. Heading into the seas, I had to bring the tabs up all the way to force the hull to pound. Even then, it landed solidly, with the brunt of the force absorbed amidships.

From a standstill, the R260 rocketed off the mark at full throttle, achieving plane in 3.8 seconds. Wide open, the twin Yamaha 225 four-strokes we tested will push this boat to 54 mph at 6,000 rpm, according to Robalo's figures. Yamaha performance data shows that 250s (the max power for this vessel) produce 57.3 mph at 5,800 rpm, consuming 42.2 gph.

At a cruising speed of 30 mph at 3,500 rpm, the boat took hard-over turns in stride, carving a 180-degree arc in about a boat length. The Robalo's unique hull design grips the water like tank treads on ice, so be prepared for what this boat can do. With the wheel cranked all the way to the left or right, the R260 accelerates into tight doughnut turns without a drop of water breaching the gunwale.

Slow to trolling speed, and the boat responds politely, showing a broad expanse of clean water and small wakes perfect for surfing and skipping baits.

The R260 drifts beam-to quietly and with surprisingly little perceived motion. I remained comfortable standing on the bow casting platform as the boat handled the seas.

Fishing
This Robalo really speaks the language of fishing, while ensuring family comfort and enjoyment. The foredeck features a seating area with upholstered cushions and a table. Remove the cushions and add the filler piece for a broad casting deck about 18 inches below the low-profile bow rail.

The bow also hosts three fully insulated, locking fish boxes on hydraulic lifts: one in-deck and two integrated into the casting platform. Robalo even thought to recess the hinges so toes don't get stubbed during fevered fish battles. One of the three boxes is macerated and includes a deep groove for placing a large wahoo or kingfish below the ice.

Beneath the gunwales aft, the R260 features lockable horizontal holders for four rods. Where each reel hangs - and potentially bounces against the fiberglass - Robalo affixed rubber mats for cushion- ing. The company also placed a mat below the horizontal holders - a perfect spot to lay a short bait rod. With four standard vertical rod holders in the gunwales and four in the leaning post, the boat comes with storage for 14 rods. Order the optional hard or soft top and gain room for four more.

Bolster cushions run around the entire boat, and a stainless-steel toe rail lines the deck around the cockpit.

The European-style transom provides a latching door and an expansive integrated platform for swimmers or scuba divers - with a swim ladder deployable from the water. Standard salt- and freshwater washdowns are also accessible from the platform.

The transom holds a 33-gallon elliptical livewell equipped with red LED lights and an overboard drain. The well runs off a designated pump separate from the washdowns. To the left of the livewell, anglers will enjoy the bait-rigging station, which includes a pan to hold rigged baits on ice with a StarBoard top for cutting. At knee level, Robalo placed one of two angled tackle drawers.

For those who like to watch a bait master at work or simply prefer riding astern while underway, Robalo offers a transom seat that folds completely down and away.

Design and Construction
For the 2006 model year, Robalo eliminated the R260's heavy wooden stringer box and designed a new system that uses foam-filled fiberglass stringers bonded to the hull with Plexus adhesive. This technology took 1,000 pounds off the boat's weight.

Robalo will begin reinforcing its 2007 hulls with Kevlar. All hulls are hand-laid, bonded with vinylester resins and contain basic flotation. The company opted for poured-composite (fiber-reinforced ceramic) transoms instead of wood.
 The R260 still carries Robalo's signature Hydro-Lift hull design, including reverse chines, variable deadrise and inverted strakes. The standard Lenco trim tabs are recessed into the hull.

The roomy helm area begins with a uniquely designed leaning post with flip-up seats separated by a drink console so the captain can stand or sit comfortably. The leaning post's fold-down metal footrest, double-molded footrests in the console and a tilt steering wheel accommodate helmsmen of all sizes.

Gauges and backlit rocker switches fill the left side of the console face, leaving the right side wide open for an assortment of electronics.

Inside the console, Robalo designed easy access to wiring; you'll also find a marine head and shower.

The R260's redesign demonstrates improved speed and fuel efficiency while maintaining structural integrity and a classic ride.

     Specifications

 LOA  26 ft. 5 in.
   WEIGHT  6,075 lb.
 BEAM  9 ft.    FUEL  205 gal.
 HULL DRAFT  1 ft. 8 in.
   MAX HP  T250 hp OB
 DEADRISE  23 deg.    MSRP  $92,310 (w/ T225 Yamaha OB)

Robalo Boats
Nashville, Georgia
229-686-7481
www.robalo.com