New for 2012, Robalo’s R180 CC shrinks big boat luxury and performance down to a micro-sized trailerable go-anywhere package. Robalo’s yearling R180 CC joins a growing stable of bigger sisters that include 20-, 22-, 24-, 26- and 30-foot center consoles.

What’s unique is that this mighty mite gives you many of the standard fishing and comfort features that you’d expect on some of these larger craft, but delivered on a much smaller and more manageable package. Unlike some competitive 18-footers that might scrimp on freeboard, overall weight and beam, the Robalo R180 is a beast in her class, with an 18-degree aft deadrise, thigh-high gunwales, a full eight-foot beam and a net weight that tops 2,000 pounds dry and without power. Translated, you can take this downsized sportfisher into some agitated waterways that would send fear into other 17- and 18-footers but be rest assured that all will be good to go.

The Robalo R180 CC takes a classic center console design approach with a few interesting modern twists. Starting aft and working forward, the Robalo engineers figured out some interesting ways to give you more from less. The transom area is the epitome of this creative approach, offering a pair of jump seats for the crew to stay comfy when in-transit, with a handy 15-gallon recirculating livewell set in between the port and starboard seating, both of which offer dry stowage areas down below. But when it’s time to put the fishing rods to good use, both seat backs fold flush to create an elevated one-level aft casting platform that is just the ticket to fan-cast to schools of surfacing gamefish in your wake. Speaking of fishing rods, the R180 CC offers stowage for a total of 14 outfits, with a quartet of flush-mount rodholders mounted in the gunwales, two horizontal racks under each covering board, plus a six-pack of vertical rodholders split equally on either side of the console.

Yet another unique feature of the R180 CC is the fact that it offers a very roomy head area, accessed via a way-cool hinged companionway positioned in the front of the console that swings out to port and allows total unobstructed mobility to and from the head area that would fit a 350-pound NFL lineman. Going topsides, the large console features the usual amenities, including twin outboard accessory panels, a flush mount compass and room for twin engine gauges and a single large multi-function display for your marine electronics.

The standard leaning post with backrest is a nice touch for an 18-footer, as is the removable Igloo cooler set down below which will ice your drinks and lunch for the day, yet stay out from underfoot. Going forward, the raised forward casting deck hatch lifts up to reveal an insulated fishbox down below, plus the flush anchor locker in the forepeak will hold a Danforth-type hook and rode ready for immediate deployment when it’s time to anchor over your favorite wreck or reef.

As I’ve stated many times, any boat with a vee bottom over 17 feet usually will perform better with trim tabs, especially so when attempting to control the level attitude of your chines in a crosswind, which can make long runs across an open bay very unpleasant if one of your hull’s edges is dipping into the breeze. With its 18-degree aft deadrise running surface, the Robalo R180 CC is definitely a candidate for these “requisite” tabs, a factory option that will add $625 to the cost of your ride. If this were my boat, I’d also opt for hydraulic steering ($150 for the F115 and $415 for the F150) that will enable you to have more control of getting in and out of your slip dockside or at the launching ramp. The $65 upcharge for a raw water washdown is worth the investment, as is the $2,625 for a T-Top that will keep the sun from beating down on your head during a long day out on the bay. Powered by a standard F115 Yamaha, the R180 sells for a no-haggle, “Reel Deal” price starting at $26,220 complete with an aluminum trailer. Although the F115 will provide acceptable performance with a top speed in the high 30s, if you want a few more sea ponies on the transom, the Yamaha F150 is the four-stroke outboard for you, with its larger 2.7-liter block and a top speed that should top 40 mph. No matter what the power source, the 50-gallon tank should take you a long way between fill-ups, but not burden you with too much net weight if you trailer her to your fave hot spots.

Length- 18 feet, 4 inches
Beam- 8 feet
Weight- 2,600 lbs (dry, with standard F115)
Deadrise Aft- 18 degrees
Draft- 11 inches (engine drive up); 27 inches (engine drive down)
Fuel Capacity- 50 gallons
Max Power- 150 HP (single outboard)