Robalo was founded in 1968 with a plan to build the most durable, longest-lasting fishing boats on the
water. In the ’80s, the late, great Salt Water Sportsman writer Mark Sosin called them “overbuilt,” and nobody argued. Robalos were, and still are, among the most sturdy and coveted fishing boats.
A few decades later, Chaparral Boats acquired the brand at a time when unparalleled fishability wasn’t enough to lure families into such a big investment, so engineers set about adding family luxury, comfort and cruisability. The new R270 is the latest center-console built with that mindset.
Robalo was among the first to eliminate plywood transoms and stringers from its boats, moving into the modern all-composite fiberglass construction with foam-filled stringer grids, reinforced structural foam and fiberglass transoms. Over the decades, Robalo has perfected its techniques, resulting in the ability to offer a limited lifetime hull warranty and a five-year component warranty.
Performance on our test boat was exciting, even with a pair of modest 200 hp Yamaha outboards that made 46.4 mph in our less-than-ideal test conditions. The vessel accelerated to plane in 5.5 seconds and reached 30 mph in 10 seconds. Our testing ground was a short, narrow deepwater channel running through a wide flat. The short runway made it challenging to reach WOT, but proved the R270’s ability to make high-speed hairpin turns without sliding out or chine-tripping. The V-bottom hull has a 23-degree transom deadrise and a 91/2-foot beam, and we found it stable at rest and reliably comfortable at
rest and underway.
The helm is well-appointed, with room for plenty of electronics. Electric switches are flush push buttons that are lighted for evening use. With the Yamahas, we had electric throttle and shift, as well as power steering. The hardtop rests on stanchions integrated into the console and leaning post, leaving no toe-stubbing posts fastened to the deck. A bonded safety glass windshield gave the skipper a clear view with no distortion, even from polarized glasses. Optional dual 12-inch Simrads fit nicely in the dash, and a JL Audio system with a six-channel amp, subwoofer and six coaxial speakers is standard.
Dual bucket helm seats are large and luxurious. With bolsters flipped up, you can stand up and drive securely while leaning back on them. With bolsters and armrests down, the seat position put the controls in comfortable reach—an unusual plus for most center-consoles. The wide beam allowed for a broad helm with plenty of elbow room. Narrowing the gunwales amidships effectively widens the deck space.
The R270 is equipped with two livewells. The main well is 30 gallons in the transom. A 20-gallon livewell can also serve as a cooler, located under the mezzanine seat. There’s an additonal 20-gallon cooler at the bow to ice drinks and provisions. If you choose the wet-bar option ($1,405), the mezzanine seating is replaced with a livewell, sink and slide-out cooler. A transom bench folds out to face the mezzanine seating, creating a comfortable and roomy conversation area in the cockpit. It tucks away quickly for fighting fish. You can bring fish aboard via the starboard transom door or the portside door, also equipped with mounts for a heavy-duty stowable ladder. Over a dozen rod holders are on board, with shotgun rod holders in the transom bulkhead and six in the gunwales. While a portside door usually eliminates undergunwale rod holders, Robalo’s clever placement of the door allowed room for a set ahead of them. Toe rails in the cockpit enable secure footing for leaning out to gaff a fish. Tackle storage on the left and right of the leaning post keeps hooks and tools handy.
Robalo optionally offers a bow-mounted trolling motor with batteries and a ProMariner charger. Without the trolling motor, a two-bank ProMariner keeps starting batteries charged while plugged into shore power or a household electrical outlet.
Forward, the cockpit has wraparound seating with stowable cushions. A cocktail table can lower to seating level to complete a large casting platform ideal for bottomfishing or cast-netting. Robalo equipped this area with thick cushions (standard) that work in concert with stem-to-stern coaming bolsters to create a second luxury conversation area. Add in the seat on the hinged-front console, and it’s a cozy circle of fun.
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Unlatched, the console door opens to a large compartment with a china head and ample access to electrical systems. All the compartments below the seating are insulated and drain overboard for use as dry storage, coolers or fish boxes. Paddle latches recessed into the fiberglass seat bases are easily accessible and convenient to use without having to adjust or move the upholstery. That’s a major convenience over the established tactic of putting twist latches underneath the cushions, which are accessible only after unsnapping them.
Raw- and freshwater washdowns are standard on the R270. In fact, Robalo includes so many standards on this boat that if you decide to order one, it’s almost as easy as saying, “I’ll take an R270 in Harbor Gray with twin 200 hp outboards.”
Length:27’6″Beam:9’6″Draft:1’9″ (motors up)Fuel:180 gal.Weight:7,000 lb. (dry with power)Max HP:500Price:$176,855
Robalo – Nashville, Georgia; robalo.com