Looking for the perfect blend of value and style? Look no further than the 276 BR.
Author: Alan Jones
Most people know that Rinker boats represent one of the best values in the industry, and the Captiva 276 BR might be the poster child for that proposition. When you start crunching the numbers and do some comparison shopping, the boat only looks better. But when you see it for the first time, you’re not thinking about its value. My first reaction was: Finally, a boat that’s as cool as I think I am.
Big, sexy bowriders are the current rage, but most come with a house-like price, well into six figures. When paired with a MerCruiser 350 MAG MPIC, the Captiva 276 BR — thanks to a special Rinker is running on the 29-footer — is priced at $59,999, excluding freight, tax and options. If you are reading this boat review in the doctor’s office and it’s July or later, the MSRP could be about $10,000 more, so if you’re interested, don’t wait till there’s dust on this issue. To put the cost of the 276 BR in perspective, the nationally advertised price is about half that of the slightly smaller Sea Ray 270 SLX ($117,852), and it isn’t far from the price of Sea Ray’s 21-footer ($53,387).
Forget about this being a “price” boat and the less-than-upscale connotation that carries. The 276 BR is elegance personified and is really well laid out and put together. The stern setup is perfect for the all-American pastime of “coving,” which is the art of hanging out and doing nothing … but relaxing. Padded stern seats create a wedding cake rear silhouette that culminates in a low-slung oversized swim platform that’s artfully integrated into the hull.
Our test boat features the Rinker Luxury Sport (RLS) Package, which is only available on four models this year and really ups the wow factor with its Espresso twin-stripe hull color, two-tone interior package, Chilewich bamboo snap-in carpeting, matching helm console color and a lengthy lineup of additional features. Adding to its luxurious aura is the optional Versa-Teak surface on the swim platform and the centerline walk-through. The faux teak is faux aged to look more authentic and match the upholstery. To fill in the walk-through, you lift the port-side gullwing stern pad and flip the filler section into place, which creates a huge full-beam sunpad. One of the few missteps is overly large piping that creates a noticeable speed bump in your lounging comfort — and it’s used throughout the boat. Capping off its South-of-France look is the optional aluminum radar arch, which is powder coated and has a ski tow for wakeboard thrill seeking. And something you don’t often see is two in-deck ski lockers to hold your board arsenal.
Our test boat features the “tame” version of MerCruiser’s big-block 8.2 MAG MPIC, which puts out 380 hp and bumps the price up less than $10K over the price of the standard 300 hp 350 MAG MPIC engine. You could take it up further, to its highest power, with the 430 hp incarnation for another $7,000, but based on our performance numbers, you’d be better off using that money to pay for the arch and still have some money left for other goodies.
Settling into the helm behind the chocolate-colored wrap-around console and grabbing the Isotta sport wheel with a flat bottom (both RLS Package add-ons), I began channeling my inner Formula One race driver. The slightly too-tall helm seat reinforced my belief that all boats should have height-adjustable seat pedestals, because one size does not fit all. Firing up the 8.2L V-8 and advancing the optional drive-by-wire Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS), I smoothed it into gear and idled out of the channel. When we get past the condos on Lake Wawasee in northern Indiana, I flipped the “attitude” rocker switch to change our optional Silent Choice exhaust to its through-hull setting, which emitted a satisfying rumble. I jammed the throttle, and the 276 rose on plane quickly in 3.4 seconds and reached 30 mph in 7.4 seconds. It topped out at 50.5 mph and still handled easily.
The big surprise on this 29-foot, 2-inch-long hull, which sports an oversized 9-foot, 1-inch beam, was its lithe handling. It tracked flawlessly, and a quick spin of the wheel resulted in a turn that banked in like a fighter plane and carved a precise arc. It felt as nimble as a 24-footer. The 276’s hull features 21 degrees of deadrise at the stern with a sharper entry for slicing and dicing through the chop, making it a good choice for larger bodies of water. I would have no problem taking this boat to the Bahamas from Florida (hint, hint to the folks at Rinker).
With the optional arch, the 276 BR is ready for all watersports. It planes at 17 mph, so it can go slow enough for anyone’s preferred wakeboard speed. By trimming it up slightly at around 20 mph, we were able to plow up a decent wake for launching ’boarders, but at 30 mph the wake flattens out enough that slalom skiers wouldn’t be hindered as they carve from one side to the other. By adding the DTS digital shift, you can include the Smart Tow speed control system for precision skiing or cruising.
The 276 excels as an entertainer and is yacht certified, so you won’t get in hot water during a courtesy inspection if the U-lounge and the bow seats are full — provided you have a PFD for everyone. And with 25 cupholders on board, everyone has a convenient beverage parking space. Behind the captain’s bucket seat is an entertainment center with a sink and a water spigot that’s topped with an upscale LG countertop and, on our boat, an optional AC/DC refrigerator. Up front, comfortable bowrider seats are ready for power lounging. There’s great storage underneath, though the low price reveals itself a bit here, with seat bottoms that have to be removed to access storage rather than having dams.
The big news for the 276 BR, which has been out for a few years, is the addition of the RLS Package, which takes this boat up to a new level of luxury and style. In addition to the many new features already mentioned, you get impressive Polk Audio speakers, an MTX amplifier and LED swim lights. Rinker starts you off with a well-equipped boat, with features such as the bow boarding ladder, a Porta Potti in an adult-sized console compartment, a ski tow, a four-position aft lounger and trim tabs with LED indicators.
The real beauty of the low price is that it gives you the fiscal headroom to load the boat up with options. On the Build-a-Boat section of Rinker’s website, I went all out, choosing every option I could ever want — the RLS Package, the sport arch with upgraded speakers, filler cushions fore and aft, the MerCruiser 8.2 with DTS, Smart Tow, the Versa-Teak swim platform, a windlass with an anchor, chain and rode, Silent Choice through-hull exhaust and a pumpout head. Despite little restraint, I only managed to drive the factory-authorized retail price up to $92,638. So load it up with options, then load it up with passengers.