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By Andy Adams

Bittersweet – that was our thought after testing Rinker’s new 310. The “sweet” is the boat…really sweet. The “bitter” are the conditions in the marine business in the US (and to a lesser extent in Canada).

At first, we felt sorry for the Rinker people because of the timing. There couldn’t be a worse business climate into which a new model should be launched. This is a really appealing boat; Rinker’s 310 would probably do well in any market and in reality, because of the global economic slowdown, the Rinker will have little or no competition. There are few other builders bringing out new models just now. The 310 almost runs the field alone.

We regard this as a breakthrough design as well. Comparing this new design to the older models on the market shows where design thinking is going today, globally. Rinker exports its products to many countries including Europe – a marketplace that has evolved very specific desires for this type of boat.

The emphasis is on open above decks living space; for its size, the Rinker 310 really delivers. Buyers today want family or entertaining room with space to move around and be comfortable. The Rinker 310 has a living area that rivals much larger boats. The 310 is actually 33’3” overall with a 10’6” beam and weighs approximately 12,200 lbs., with twin stern drives. The test boat had a pair of MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI fuel-injected V8s delivering 300 horsepower each and running Bravo 3 drives.

The engines can be concealed under the trick aft bench seat. Right from the swim platform to the bridge, the Rinker 310 gets a one-level flat floor and in our test boat, this was covered with Flexiteek flooring. The Flexiteek emphasizes the continuous flat floor, looks elegant and “yachty”, wears well, offers sure footing and doesn't get too hot in the sun either.

This is an impressive living room on the water. Starting at the swim platform, you get recessed cleats on the corners for running spring lines and additional large cleats are mounted on the sides of the transom. Shore power and telephone connections as well as the fuel, waste and water fillers are also right on the stern. There is a five-step, stainless-steel boarding ladder, remote for the stereo and a handheld transom shower. You also get an aft-facing stern seat; there is a large storage area too.

The transom door welcomes you into the cockpit. Across the stern is a large seat that curves up the port side to seat several people. There is a folding backrest and a side section that pulls out and fills in to make up a generous aft sun lounge. Adding to the great seating, the doublewide helm seat swivels around to join in the party.

On the starboard side is a refreshment center with substantial counter space and an electric grill, refrigerator, small sink and Rinker’s trademark flip-up electric blender for mixing drinks at the end of the day. The refreshment centre is almost good enough to render the galley redundant.

Over this wonderful cockpit, the standard equipment radar arch carries an array of four speakers and a combination of overhead and floor lighting make outdoor evenings a real treat. We especially liked the white Stamoid canvas treatment. Rinker President Kim Slocum tells us that they find it more durable than some other top-quality fabrics and easier to clean. The main thing, however, is the light it brings in.

Other good features include an engine bay access hatch, conveniently located battery switches and abundant storage. You really can spend the day here comfortably.

When it comes time to cast off, the captain will quickly appreciate the impressive helm with black, low reflective vertical surfaces for the Raymarine C80 system, full array of Faria multi-function instruments, Lenco trim tabs with LED indicators and a nice, tilting sport wheel.

We loved the angled footrest, flip-up bolster for standing operation and the MerCruiser controls are particularly handsome and convenient with the lever-mounted trim control. Other equipment includes a Fireboy engine monitoring system and stereo; we especially liked the handy, hidden tray where the captain can keep sunglasses, an iPod and other little items.

The only way forward is to step up through the opening windshield section. To maximize interior space, Rinker has eliminated the side decks. The relatively flat forward deck is finished in a non-skid surface and has a removable sun pad with handy drink holders. Under the sun pad is a substantial, tempered glass section in the center of the deck. It brings a wonderful amount of natural light into the cabin during the day.

Rinker gives you a remote control spotlight and Lewmar windlass with deck switches and ground tackle including longer than usual chain section. It has been organized this way to make the ground tackle easy to set and retrieve from the helm without ever having to go forward.

With such a fabulous cockpit, you would not expect the cabin to get much attention but this time it did. Leading to the cabin is a “wet step” that lifts to house sponges and other items, then it is down two floating steps into the salon. You are immediately struck by how bright the deck skylight makes it. The space is open to the forward queen berth and feels spacious. Hanging lockers, escape hatch and good storage add convenience to the vee area.

On the starboard side is a fully enclosed standing height head large enough to comfortably shower. Features include a mirrored door, a second mirror for shaving or makeup, a small stainless-steel sink in Corian counter and a VacuFlush system.

Just ahead is the galley again with Corian counter, single-burner Kenyan stove, Dometic refrigerator, stainless-steel sink and large trash locker. There is also a microwave and the flat screen TV is here, aimed at the dinette on the port side.

The dinette converts to a double berth and the seat lifts revealing storage and a built-in safe for valuables. The removable table keeps the space open most of the time.

A queen size mid-cabin with opening porthole will usually be the master’s quarters just for the convenience of keeping the cabin clear.

Twin 300 horsepower MerCruisers power this Rinker 310 and it is a fast boat. The factory recorded top speed was 45.3 mph at a screaming 5,280 rpm. More importantly, though, it cruises at 3,500 rpm doing a brisk 28.5 mpg while getting maximum fuel economy. The Bravo 3 drives have amazing grip on the water and power assisted steering help you pick the best course through the rough stuff. The view from the helm is unobstructed and rough water handling is confidence inspiring.

Overall, it’s an impressive package for 33 feet and the cockpit sells the boat on first impressions alone. If any cruiser can lead the market away from the bitter taste of 2009, it’s this sweet machine.


Specifications
Length    33’3”/10.13 m
Beam    10’6”/3.20 m
Weight    12,200 lbs./5489 kg
Fuel Capacity    150 gal./567.8 l
Water Capacity    33 gal./124.9 l
Holding Capacity    47 gal./177.9 l
Price (as tested)    $174,000 US
Test boat provided by and price quoted by:
Rinker Boats
www.rinkerboats.com


Performance
Test boat engines: MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI, 5.7 L / 350 ci V8 with sequential electronic fuel injection, 300 hp, Bravo 3 drives
Engine (RPM    Speed (MPH)
1000    5.4
1500    7.4
2000    9.2
2500    14.2
3000    22.1
3500    28.5*
4000    38.1
5000    42.9
5280 (MAX)    45.3
* Cruising speed
Performance data supplied by factory.


Photo Captions:
Photo 1 - the Rinker 310 - Breakthrough Design
Photo 2 - The forward queen berth feels spacious and features hanging lockers and an escape hatch; good storage adds even more convenience.
Photo 3 - The galley boasts a Corian counter, single-burner Kenyan stove, Dometic refrigerator, stainless-steel sink and large trash locker.
Photo 4 - The transom door welcomes you into the cockpit. Across the stern is a large seat that curves up the port side to seat several people.