Bryant Speranza: Punching Above its Weight

It’s hard to believe how much Bryant packs into its new Speranza runabout.


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Republished by permission. 


If you look at the overhead shot of the new Bryant Speranza, you might mistake this boat for a 23- or 25-foot bowrider. Just look at all that deck space and the abundance of seating. But, no. The new Speranza isn’t 25 or even 23 feet long. It measures just 21 feet 4 inches in length overall, yet it feels so roomy no one would fault you for thinking it’s larger than it is. Part of that roomy feeling comes from the clever use of a flat-pane windshield and side curtains, which protrude less into the cockpit than a wraparound-style windshield. Step aboard and watch our video of this boat, to get a view of the Speranza with your own eyes.

“The Speranza is the sister model of the larger Calandra. It maximizes usable space while providing extremely sociable and comfortable seating,” said Bryant Boats president John Dorton. “The open layout provides a living room type of atmosphere for interacting with guests and entertaining. This boat will satisfy even customers who were looking for a deck boat or pontoon boat, due to the spacious interior.”

Inside, the Speranza offers large, spacious seating for a 21-footer, yet still provides ample floor space. That’s clever design at work. Bryant devised the cockpit seating so it’s deep on fore- and aft-facing lounges, yet narrower for lounges on which passengers face inward. That simple detail opens up floor space without sacrificing comfort on the seating surfaces used most.

The use of deck space in the Speranza isn’t just creative—it’s also smart.
The use of deck space in the Speranza isn’t just creative—it’s also smart.

The cockpit opens up to a stepped transom walk-through, which is something you don’t usually get on a 21 footer. The platforms are covered in SeaDek foam padding, there’s stowage under the walk-through, and a generous swim platform with horizontal and vertical grab rails.

Up front in the bow, lounges are nice and wide, with stowage underneath all the cushions and a fully equipped anchor locker. Bryant also used pull-up cleats and tucked the grab rails inside the bow so as not to spoil the profile. But here’s where the boat’s relatively short length is noticeable. Legroom up front is good, but not great.

Save the bow for the kids, and add the playpen-style filler cushion to get the most from that space.
Save the bow for the kids, and add the playpen-style filler cushion to get the most from that space.

Stowage in the cockpit is ample, with wide access to bins under the lounges, which are all nicely-finished positive-molded gelcoat surfaces. No brush-painted bare fiberglass here, and that brings up something that must be noted about any Bryant model: if you take the time to pull up all the cushions, open the hatches and doors, and look in places you wouldn’t normally look, you begin to get a good idea of how a Bryant is put together. All Bryants are hand-laminated and built without any wood. The stringer system is all composite, which means there’s nothing to rot in the event of water intrusion. The wiring and plumbing is all rigged neatly and better than you would expect in a 21-foot runabout. There is a pride of workmanship here and it’s been a Bryant hallmark for years. They’re impressive.

Because the Speranza is a 21-footer, you can get away with smaller engines such as MerCruiser’s 4.3-liter V6 equipped with an Alpha One drive. There are also choices from Volvo Penta, which includes a V6 with the SX or DuoProp drive. You can’t get dual propellers in a MerCruiser unless you get a V8.

Whatever power you choose, the Bryant Speranza is a nifty new runabout that punches above its weight and feels larger than it is. Base MSRP for the Speranza is $57,900, but if you scroll down and click on the link to listings on Boat Trader, you’ll find them for less.

For more information, visit Bryant.

 

Five Overlooked Used Runabout Brands

Before you label me a flip-flopper, yes, I have previously in this space advocated focusing your search on big name brands. And that’s still a good approach. However, like any skilled politician (if you can think of one) will tell you — I’m not a flip-flopper. I just adjust my opinion based on new information as it becomes available.  Or maybe as it dawns on me…

Rinker Boats has been in business almost 100 years and has a strong following despite not being a household name.
Rinker Boats has been in business almost 100 years and has a strong following — despite not being a household name.

I got to thinking about that advice and I found that it was something of a disservice. There are lots of great, small-volume builders who offer high-quality boats. Their names might not register with some used-boat shoppers, because these companies don’t have the marketing budget of, say, Sea Ray or Bayliner.  But they are certainly worth considering. The live links below will take you to the builders’ listings on BoatTrader.com.

Rinker

I seem to recall reading about a study somewhere that the Rinker name had the unfortunate distinction of being one of the least recognized names in the boat business. This, despite nearly a hundred years of building boats. A couple of Rinker family members even race tunnel boats with Rinker Boats’ sponsorship.

Despite the lack of brand recognition, Rinker Boats has been offering a fine array of runabouts, cuddies, deckboats, and cruisers for years. Now under management of the Nautic Global Group, Rinker has a network of dealers all over the country who will service used boats just as readily as those under warranty.

I’ve been through Rinker’s plant, too, and the way they put things together makes sense. One of the nice things about searching for a used Rinker is that, because the company has been in business for so long, they’re not difficult to find.

Maxum's doors were shuttered in the recession, but there are good used models on the market.
Maxum’s doors were shuttered in the recession, but there are good used models on the market.

Maxum

If you do a Google search on Maxum boats, you won’t find any of its new models to lust after. In fact, you won’t find much of a website, either. You see, Maxum ceased operations in 2009 in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008. But don’t let that scare you. Maxum was a Brunswick company, and it turned out some good product, from runabouts to cruisers.

That Maxum is no longer in business is as much a function of bad luck as it was corporate decision-making. The boat business was in shards in 2009. Brunswick is a publicly traded company that must deliver value to shareholders.  Brunswick sold some brands and shuttered Maxum. But I drove a bunch of them in the early 2000s, and their quality was on par with that of larger boatbuilders.

Caravelle built a host of models, and is recovering from the downturn, with new  employees and dealers.
Caravelle built a host of models, and is recovering from the downturn, with new employees and dealers.

Caravelle

Here’s another boatbuilder that got the dirty end of the stick in the Great Recession. The company closed its doors in 2012, but it’s on the uptick again, with more than a hundred employees and some 50 dealers, according to a news report on WALB.com, my local ABC and NBC affiliate.

That’s current product. In terms of older product, Caravelle had a lot to offer, from a full line of runabouts and Sea Hawk center-consoles to its performance-oriented line of Interceptor models.

The Inteceptors were always a favorite of mine because they straddled the line between family runabout and go-fast boat so delicately. It was the kind of boat that allowed, say, a dad to bring home a boat with a performance flavor that wouldn’t raise red flags with mom.

Ebbtide is a small, privately held company that builds boats to last.
Ebbtide is a small, privately held company that builds boats to last.

Ebbtide

Ebbtide has long been turning out solid boats that stand up over time and offer good value to buyers. The reason it might be overlooked is one of exposure. Ebbtide simply doesn’t have a marketing budget on par with Sea Ray or Cobalt, but its boats are built to high standards.

The small, privately held company knows that word of mouth is critical to its success, and it believes in building boats that last longer than the loan term.

“Boats are products that are entirely built by human beings,” said Ebbtide president Tom Trabue. “There are no machines to pop them out, so there are many, many opportunities to have mistakes and things like that, and if you skimp you know you’re asking for trouble. And we just don’t do that. I’ve just never believed in that. I believe that if a family buys one of our boats and wants to keep it for 10 years or 15 years or whatever, then that boat ought to hold up.”

Bryant Boats, of Sweetwater, Tenn, is a family-owned, high-quality boatbuilder.
Bryant Boats, of Sweetwater, Tenn, is a family-owned, high-quality boatbuilder.

Bryant

If you have never heard of Bryant Boats, well, they’re worth investigating. Having toured the company’s plant, I know how well-built they are. And having driven a number of Bryant boats over the years, I can recommend them easily.

Located in Sweetwater, Tenn., Bryant Boats is a family business founded by Jim Bryant and his son Joe, who are still active in the business. Just last year, former MasterCraft CEO John Dorton purchased a majority stake in Bryant Boats, so Bryant’s exposure level seems poised to change. Dorton has already grown the dealer base and added product, but the workmanship was already in place.

“They have always put quality first,” Dorton said.  “I know it’s kind of an overused word. But their warranty expenses were among the lowest I’ve ever heard of, so that tends to tell you that you have a great product out the door.”