BWA Sport 26 GTO Review
We already touched on other boats from these series – and now it’s finally time for BWA Sport 26 GTO, a middle brother to previously reviewed models, so to speak. Light, fast and affordable, this RIB surely deserves its own story, and as always, we provide photo materials, list of characteristics, layout plans and video gallery along with this lengthy article.
Here it is – almost as if a normal dinghy got magically enlarged, was supplied with alien tech and somehow developed a steady, reliable helm control and speed. But don’t let the inflatable chambers put it in the same line as some cheap tenders, as no regular dinghy will be able to fit 18 people on board with the help of modular cushy sofas, bow sunbathing area and great helm seat. Sure, it can still be used a transom boat for a much larger yacht, but mostly it’s aimed at small families or groups of friends who don’t want to commit to a full-size solid monohull vessel.
Somehow the BWA Nautica (BWA stands for Breventani William Adriano) managed to reach the top of the market when it comes to luxurious RIBs. One of the reasons would be their obsession with safety and comfort, which is quite unusual for RIB manufacturers, especially considering that this type of boat originated in military environment and is not usually associated with luxury at all. You can draw the parallels between HMMWV or Humvee, which was the army model and Hummer – street legal comfortable version of the same SUV. Only in this case, BWA models are not in danger of being discontinued, as they gathered boating lovers from all around the world, offering various vessels for every niche – starting with modest Sport GTO 19 and finishing with remarkable, although much more expensive Sport 33 GTO.
Based at Dresdano, near Milan, the shipyard made quite a buzz with their boats optimized for use by Italian Coast Guards. That’s why durability, safety and performance were always Breventani’s primary concern, and later the opportunity presented itself to add comfort into the mix. That’s why their boats are used by so many yacht clubs, enthusiasts and professionals: you get reliable, proven fundamentals and as much as possible luxury for a reasonable price tag. On the photo above you can easily see the secret to this boat’s great performance on the water – a planing rigid ribbed hull made of fiberglass that allows the boat to stay directly on the course without jumping on the waves.
More than Meets the Eye – Most Optimal Materials
Of course, the chambers of BWA Sport 26 GTO are not made of regular rubber. Hypalon, or chlorosulfonated polyethylene, is a synthetic material that is highly resistant to temperature extremes, ultraviolet light and various chemicals, developed by DuPont. Neoprene is another synthetic material, that remains flexible in different temperatures and is highly stable. On this model, both materials are used in a mix, providing a great balance between reliability and flexibility in its design.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows as Hypalon is more expensive and is almost twice as heavy as PVC, but that’s why we have this massive engine in the back - to handle the additional weight. That weight helps the boat stay firm on the surface though, while, as you know, incredibly light boats have huge problems with stability. Since this material is comprised of 10 layers based on Kevlar cord and metallized rubber, it can be stored outside in the cold or be exposed to scorching tropical sun, which would destroy most RIBs out there quite quickly. Also, you don’t have the problem of depressurizing like with PVC so you don’t have to pump the chambers more than needed – the chambers shape doesn’t change at all.
And if we are talking about its durability, then rest assured – even sharp fishing or hunting supplies can be safely stored on board without the fear of puncturing the sides, unless you are REALLY trying to. Since the rigid net inside the material is incredibly rigid, you also don’t have to be worried about brushing against a cliff and having to send SOS signal right away, as you biggest worry will be some unpleasant-looking scratch marks left. Sharp rocks, reefs, hitting another vessel (God forbid), making mistakes during mooring and hitting the pier full force – these chambers are real fighters, although not invincible, as nothing is fully foolproof.
In case the Murphy’s law comes into play and you do manage to somehow damage ALL the chambers, don’t worry – the fiberglass hull can stay afloat and support the weight of all passengers while they are waiting for the rescue.
This boat was made with Italian obsession over perfection. Let’s check out what the result of that obsession looks like up-close – our virtual tour officially begins.
Features of BWA Sport 26 GTO
- Hull type: Monohull
- Overall length, m: 7.75
- Overall length, ft: 25
- Width, m: 3.1
- Power, HP: 225 (minimum)
- Option engine, HP: 300
- Fuel tank, l: 350
- Water tank, l: 80
|Up to 40 knots
|Up to 26 knots
|32 l/h when planing at a speed of 20 knots
Review of BWA Sport 26 GTO by topRik Team
When we finally got our hands on this model, we already tested multiple boats from BWA and knew what to expect overall. But were still surprised with how perfect this model symbolizes the idea of perfect balance – it’s not as large as to be considered an overkill, but not small enough to be confused with a dinghy or have insufficient space for the passengers.
As always, we approach the boat from the stern and immediately see the impressive Honda 250 VTEC engine. Somehow the designers found a way to fit two swimming platforms on such a compact boat – one of them even has a solid unfolding ladder.
Just so we are on the same page, here’s the layout plan of the entire vessel:
You can clearly see how the designers stayed true to classic luxury setup – aft cockpit with comfortable furniture and table, “saloon” in the center with optional T-top and a social area at the bow with another optional table. And we are talking about an RIB that is less than 8 meters long! We especially like how BWA solves the problem of anchor and chain box by fitting it somewhat outside the bow, saving up on the useful space on board.
Here's the BWA Sport 26 GTO in its entirety, with optional T-top raised. For some extra payment you get a sunshade and protection from the rain that can always be put away when not needed. It covers both the helm console and cockpit sofas – highly recommended option in our opinion, without which the boat actually feels a little incomplete.
Now that you have a full picture, let’s continue. We step into the aft space and see this high-quality seating space right away. It looks quite different now, doesn’t it?
That’s because BWA Nautica are really into modularity and love putting transformer sofas, chairs, loungers everywhere they can, and we are not complaining, since this is pretty much the only way you can get such variety without paying extra or committing to a single choice when purchasing the boat.
The back of the sofa can be lowered all the way and the space in the middle can either continue this huge flat area or house a little coffee table (you can see the insertion point in the shadow below).
And this is how it looks without the central piece and with back raised:
You don’t have to install the table here – this way it just becomes a roomy social area with easier access to the lockers. Which lockers, might you ask? There is quite some storage space right under these brown mattresses. By the way, the flooring of the entire deck can be enhanced with synthetic teak for additional pay and the boat cover becomes even more needed in that case, so the deck is protected when the boat is left unused.
Here you can actually see the handle on the chamber – you can always hold onto it from the water in case you are not the most confident swimmer.
Overall, the aft cockpit is a great place to enjoy some snacks that you brought on board and discuss the latest news in the shade. Or, you could just get rid of T-top and sunbathe all you want on modular mattress – you decide. This is a great place to collect those memorable moments that are so pleasant to remember years later.
Now let’s move on to the center of the deck.
This is how the helm console looks from the aft. The seat for two is adjustable and can be quickly turned into a bench with a backrest for driving while standing up. It is installed on top of a compact optional refrigerator and a sink with a faucet.
And this is our helm console. It reminds us of a racing car with its steering wheel and of a racing motorcycle with that windshield. It is fully equipped by default with a responsive throttle, radio, navigation lights, compass and a high-end chartplotter. By now you probably noticed how much different elements you can hold on to – there are stainless-steel rails everywhere so during a sudden change of pace or a turn you will never lose balance.
There’s no need to get an assistant to manage this boat and its not exactly demands in terms of driving skill, hence it is perfect for beginners.
Why is it so large though? Well, inside you have a space for storage or a marine toilet, which is pretty unusual for a RIB to say the least. The front part opens directly up along with a seat. Again, we see even more railing, reflecting the BWA’s passion for ensuring safety for everyone.
The bow is just a huge sunbathing space with the already mentioned chainbox:
Again, where BWA couldn’t put the rails, they added the handles right on the chambers, making it very convenient to sit on the side or climb into the water right from here. And here we have more modularity, since here the furniture also shapeshifts into this:
This way the seat becomes the extension of the full-size bed – seems like the spot to fight over on a family vacation. Of course, under these mattresses you also get spacious lockers.
The design of the boat is as minimalistic as it gets, but options add more shine to it, like automatic bilge pump or piston for single engine hydraulic steering – check out our price calculator to get all possible options in one list.
Speaking of steering, let’s talk about what we experienced while cutting the waves on BWA Sport 26 GTO.
Performance at the Sea – Top-Notch for the Price
One of the remarkable advantages of RIBs is always their incredible lightness in combination with large size, which allows the boat to reach planing incredibly fast and keep it all the way to the bank while allowing for plenty of space on board.
It took us quite a while to prepare for this trip, since many of our crewmate were not sure whether its worth it to make a review of an “inbetween” BWA Sport model – isn’t it obvious already what they are all about? But since our mission is to give the full coverage of the entire range, we left out the lazy ones at home and went on a trip anyway, just the three of us. And we didn’t regret it as we went full throttle and the boat just revved up instantly. The sound that we heard was surprisingly quiet and without unpleasant humming, clicks, high-pitched noises and other signs of low-quality engines. Good engine should caress your ears like good bass line in a rock song while you are playing with throttle and the helm - designers of BWA Nautica apparently get that.
BWA Sport 26 GTO was made for speed and as you go full throttle, at 40 knots, you enjoy it just as much as other boats of the range, but due to weight it feels more “glued” to the water than Sport 24 GTO that we reviewed lately. That’s why testing different boats pays off – you can feel the tiniest differences if the models are similar and we that’s why we recommend, if you can, test the boats before you buy them, no matter how similar they look. It turns little bit slower too, but jumps less when cruising at 26 knots. If we compare to 28 GTO (which we also reviewed) the situation is the opposite. And yet thanks to only one motor present, there’s much less noise, so if you are noise sensitive, it’s an important point.
Let’s have some nitpicks too, shall we? From this picture you can see that you shouldn’t go full speed if you care about staying completely dry. We think that an optional automatic bilge pump is a must if you really like to go full out, but you should definitely avoid full speed if you want your 350-liter fuel tank to last. Also, it would be great to somehow make the windshield more modular, just like the sofas, so it could be adjusted to the height of the skipper. Dear Santa…
The chambers here are also 65 cm in diameter, but the hull is slightly smaller so it will be easier to dock. Thanks to cleats all over the sides, choosing a good place is not a problem. Same as on other models, Drive-by-wire technology helps you out when turning, automating the process and eliminating human factor without any mechanics or a key needed.
There were three of us, but we never had problems tripping over each other’s toes – BWA RIBs are incredibly spacious. Also, those rails weren’t even touched much – that’s how steady the boat goes, all thanks the rigid keel.
Advantages of BWA Sport 26 GTO
You should ask yourself first - why even get a RIB in the first place? What is it that you are looking for in a boat? Based on what we found out during our testing, this boat’s advantages shine best in the following cases.
- You love speed more than anything but don’t want to overpay. With 350 liters of fuel, you can still glide at 40 knots along the coastline for hours. You don’t have to compromise on weight OR space thanks to inflatable chambers – what you sacrifice is unneeded extra durability of full rigid monohull which in 99% of cases is an overkill as long as you drive safely. All that weight missing translates into a hybrid design with such impressive performance characteristics that it would be physically impossible to replicate it in any other way, considering the price tag. Also, since boat shipping prices usually depend on boat width instead of length, this slender boat wins more points in terms of transportation.
- You are professional, who is just looking for an efficient workhorse. Whether you need a rescue vessel, fishing boat or a boat to add to your fleet of rented out models, this particular horse doesn’t need much food and does whatever you throw at it. Maintenance is quick because of fully exposed engine, parts are easy to find, repairs of the hull are unlikely to hit your wallet much also. Again – BWA Nautica originated from catering to professionals and they are very interested in keeping their values intact still.
- You believe in active family vacations. Going to the park sounds boring to you, so you got to take your wife and kids on a thrilling trip along the islands once in a while, making sure that your family doesn’t get bored by camping-like wild trip without any amenities and at the same time doesn’t get too spoiled. Adjustable comfortable seats that turn into beds, T-top above, shower with autoclave and even refrigerated cold drinks on board - BWA Sport 26 GTO has just enough comfort on board that your daughter might roll her eyes first but will still go on a weekend boat trip without regrets and will remember these trips later with nostalgia after she grows up.
- You are a minimalist who values function over form. Since it is very difficult to come up with a more resource-efficient design than RIB, this design dominates the coast guard and military landscapes. It just works, plain and simple. No waste of materials, but you get the same result as a twice more expensive boat will give you, all because the chambers don’t look aesthetically pleasing to some. If you don’t care about occasional side eye from “true” yachting connoisseurs and would rather spend tens of thousands on something more valuable than “legitimate” monohull, then you really can’t go wrong with a high-quality Italian RIB like BWA Sport 26 GTO.
We hope that this summary helps you to understand this boat better. But the next section will show you this vessel in full colors.
Video Reviews of BWA Sport 26 GTO
This time we got for you the brightest, yet fleeting glimpses into the magic of BWA Sport 26 movement to help you to get the essence of what this boat is about.
Energetic, beautiful, fast, easy to handle – all these qualities are well depicted here:
More of a soothing video, showing different scenarios of the boat’s usage:
And here’s that pleasant engine sound we were talking about:
A longer interior tour of BWA Sport 26 GTO:
In general, BWA Sport 26 GTO is about efficiency – you get more than what you pay for in this case compared to rigid monohulls. One of the things we noticed as we were disembarking is just how fun it was.
Nowadays some companies just forget that boating is not about bragging rights or fancy logos, it’s about the thrill of flying on top of the water surface, doing something that human being is just not supposed to do naturally. You are trying to beat the world itself at your own terms and in that particular moment, as you glide across the ocean, it’s just you versus the nature - and you are winning! Do you need 3 galleys on board for that? Or maybe more cupholders will improve on that thrill you are getting? Not really.
As we left, looking back at this agile practical beast, we remembered our first experiences and mistakes, how we got into this at all, it’s always a different story for each one of us. Many of us are just trying to chase this first high that we experienced on some cheap dad’s boat as we first took the wheel. And maybe it’s impossible to experience THAT feeling ever again, but driving fun boats like this is the next best thing.
Where to Buy BWA Sport 26 GTO at a Bargain Price
That’s some question, isn’t it? The only way to get the bargain price is to actually bargain and that’s exactly what we are going to do for you if you are just willing to get some quick consultations from one of our team members at topRik.
We will try to make sure that you get the best deal on the market and only from reliable dealer or directly from the manufacturer, depending on the circumstances. If you are unsure what options and additional equipment you’ll need, don’t worry – we have price calculator for majority of yachts presented on the marketplace so you could easily estimate the final price with all the extras. All of this completely for free!
Also, our team will answer all your questions regarding shipping, documentation, registration issues and will resolve such problems efficiently – we will get the papers in order, haul the yacht to your location if needed, check all the equipment many times over. Our experience of moving between various marinas of Mediterranean allows us to quickly crack all kinds of bureaucratic codes and navigate in the convoluted world of marine law so you don’t have to.
You can always send us a message at [email protected], give us a call using the phone number above or go to Contacts section to fill the feedback form. And if you are already thinking about something that even the additional options from the manufacturer are lacking and you need even more equipment for your boat, check out our full catalogue of various marine gear. Thanks for reading!
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