See it tied to the dock and you may think to yourself, So what? It's just another deckboat. But then you might notice how much more room there seems to be in the bow cockpit. Hmmm. Get underway, and you'll think, Hey, deckboats aren't supposed to handle chop this well. What's going on here? Lean over the bow swim platform, look down, and everything makes sense. The Rinker 26 Flotilla is a trimaran, which makes it different from most other deckboats on the market, yet at the same time as true to the deck philosophy as it could possibly be.
Companies that build deckboats have been making them sportier than the floating cattle-pen designs of the past, and justifiably so. But it's impossible to have it all, and in the name of style, some builders have stripped away one of the key features that makes a deckboat a deckboat: space. Rinker, with the 26 Flotilla, hasn't forgotten that the deck is the ultimate family boat. The trimaran design gives it the stability and spaciousness that other decks just can't match.
THREE-TO-ONE ODDS. A trimaran is similar to a catamaran, except that it has a third hull running down the center. Like a cat, the trimaran design gives the 26 Flotilla great stability and the predictability of multiple keels underway. Why add the extra hull? One reason: load-carrying capacity. The third hull adds extra buoyancy, helping a trimaran handle larger loads without sinking as deeply in the water as a catamaran.
Trimarans can also jump on plane quickly - the 26 Flotilla did in 3.2 seconds - with moderate bowrise. The 26 Flotilla also stayed on plane at very low rpm and speed (2400 rpm and 16 mph) - another planingcat-like characteristic. As with cats, trimarans have a rough-water advantage over conventional V-hulls - particularly ones with a moderate 16 to 18 degrees of deadrise, typically found on most deckboats. The Four Winns 254 Funship ($49,071 with a 315-hp 5.7L Volvo Penta), for example, has a V-hull with 17 degrees of transom deadrise. I ran the 254 Funship through offshore swells and it performed well, but the 26 Flotilla felt smoother. Harris-Kayot's Legend 240 ($41,900 with a 220-hp 5.0L MerCruiser) is a catamaran deckboat that performs nearly as well as the 26 Flotilla, but it gives up more than 2' in LOA and doesn't have nearly as much stowage capacity.
On the water, the 26 Flotilla tracked exceptionally straight and was predictable at the helm. The new 320-hp 6.2L MerCruiser stern drive gave it enough get-up-and-go to top out at 46.7 mph and cruise nicely at just under 30 mph. Just don't expect to make any sharp, banking turns as you would on the 254 Funship; the 26 Flotilla turns flat in corners, just like any multihull. Close, tight turns can be executed, but it takes time to get used to the sensation. Another multihull trait is that in, a chop, spray from the tunnels gets thrown back over the bow and onto the passengers. The 26 Flotilla has a nice "sneeze" guard molded under the bow platform to help keep the spray down.