By Jon Blaicher
Zodiac is perhaps the most recognizable brand when it comes to inflatable boats. Well-known for their rugged design and rough water capability, they are often a top choice for commercial operations. The new Pro 7 is no departure from that pedigree with a deep-V fibreglass hull and standard Hypalon tubes. What is unique about the Pro is the modular design, which allows a ton of flexibility in layout and configuration.
Starting with empty deck, you can customize the layout to suit your needs. There are four consoles available in two different widths and since they are bolted down instead of moulded into the deck, there is some flexibility in mounting locations. You can decide if you want more open space forward or aft and if you want the walk through to port or to starboard.
Our test boat had the wider H-XLS console with a moulded forward seat, ideal for added passengers. It provides a fair bit of storage and easy access to instrument wiring. If your focus is fishing or diving however, you might opt for the smaller HL console.
The stern bench seats three and folds flat allowing easy access to the transom. Innovative new bumper cones to stern finish the tubes off nicely and creates space for small optional swim platforms to either side. Add the optional tow bar and you have a boat well suited for watersports.
Multi-fix mounts can be found on most of the big accessories and provide solid mounting points for flag, mask and cup holders. We counted ten on the tow bar alone. An optional T-top is available to add some shade along with more multi-fix mounting points. This modular flexibility and the wide range of accessories make the Pro Zodiacs the most versatile in the fleet.
Our test boat was well equipped for family recreation. You could just as easily leave it wide open for fishing or fill it with scuba racks and run dive charters from it.
Regardless of how you equip your Pro, it remains incredibly capable. With a self-bailing deck and twenty-two and-a-half inch tubes, the Pro 7’s inshore maximum load capacity is over 4,300 pounds. Two large sub-deck storage compartments are standard and will keep a lot of gear stowed out of sight. Integrating the gas tank into the hull puts the centre of gravity lower and handling neutral, regardless of fuel load.
With winds well over 15 knots and waves approaching two feet, conditions were perfect to check ride comfort and control. The 24-degree hull provides serious offshore capability, which translates into a soft ride that your passengers will love. So reassuring is the ride, we were tempted to look for bigger water. The compromise for this off-shore capability is a mild chine walk at speed and fair bit of lean when turning. But the large diameter tubes prevent too much lean with the added bonus of keeping spray down. Yamaha’s lightweight F200 doesn’t spoil the handling and has enough power for most applications with a top speed in the 50 mph range.
If you’re looking for a highly capable offshore RHIB but haven’t found the right configuration, you might want to consider customizing your own Zodiac Pro.
TEST BOAT ENGINE
200 HP Yamaha F200, 2.8L inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC, multi-point EFI
Length: 22 ft 2 in / 6.75 m
Beam: 8 ft 4 in / 2.54 m
Weight: 1,741 lb / 790 kg (dry)
Fuel Capacity: 52.8 US gal / 200 L
Price: $70,415 USD (as tested)