RM has continuously improved its boats and the new 970 is a spacious and highly versatile yacht.

When I visited the RM yard in La Rochelle in 2012, I was really impressed by the quality of the company’s plywood epoxy construction process. Not only is plywood more sustainable than composite or metal, it is also a stiff, light and naturally insulating material.

RM’s yachts were still a little quirky, however, and needed to dazzle a little more on the water. Since then RM has moved into a larger yard and put an energetic young team in place, which has given the new line added spark.

RM won the European Yacht of the Year family cruiser category in 2013, was nominated in 2015 with its 890 and won again this year. Other nominees in the 2016/17 European Yacht of the Year awards: Django 12.70, Ikone 7.50, Jeanneau 51, Sunbeam 22.1.

This 970 perfectly demonstrates why designer Marc Lombard is so crafty in this size range. Modern lines, including reverse sheerline and voluminous forward sections, help create a spacious and highly versatile yacht that’s fun to sail.

Wheel or tiller steering can be specified; fixed or twin keels are offered too. RM has collaborated with specialists INO Rope on the deck layout: the purchase systems make light work of sail handling; the 3D genoa on an inhauler/barber system is a particularly neat set-up.

The 970 is great fun on the helm, really sporty, especially with the kite hoisted. There is direct communication to the twin rudders, which have real traction, allowing you to boss her around sharply.

Those accustomed to single rudders may still miss the feedback however, as the helm is neutral. We sailed in 15 to 18 knots with full sail, averaging 8.5 to 9 knots under gennaker.

At just over 9 knots she starts to plane, which is a blast and about the right balance of sportiness and control that you want out of a family cruiser. Upwind figures hovered around 7 knots but at a relatively low angle, even under staysail.

Further reading
RM970 review continues below…

RM sites the primary winches inboard, which is a superbly practical solution and the cutter rig option works well for cruising. I enjoyed steering from the aft quarters, but at this size, when a boat is fitted with wheels rather than tillers, the helmsman is squashed against the backstay.

Down below is the sort of  simple, bright and colourful modern interior that RM is known for. The saloon receives the majority of the space and light, thanks also to the open vee berth forward, and it adjoins a galley and a proper little navstation.

The two-cabin layout has a large heads aft that includes some wet hanging space and access to a utility/storage area.

Specifications: RM970

LOA: 9.65m (31ft 8in)
LWL: 8.95m (29ft 4in)
Beam: 3.70m (12ft 2in)
Draught (twin keels): 1.65m (5ft 5in)
Draught (single keel): 2.10m (6ft 11in)
Displacement (twin): 4,100kg (9,039lb)
Displacement (single): 3,900kg (8,598lb)
Price ex VAT: €120,417 (£106,500)
Contact: www.rm-yachts.com

Toby’s conclusion

This is the most impressive RM yet and shows the plywood specialists setting the bar for midsize cruisers. The 970 packs it all in – exciting performance in a fun, voluminous, versatile and refreshingly modern family-friendly cruiser. However, like past RMs it is comparatively expensive. I like the deck design, notably the running rigging and winch layout, and she’s a joy to drive – sporty yet authoritative, the ideal balance for a fast family cruiser.

Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Bert Bosman, Waterkampioen, The Netherlands
The prettiest and best sailing RM to date. The contemporary and eye-catching interior is as fresh and as bright as a greenhouse

Pancho Pi-Suñer Oses, Nautica y Yates, Spain
The RM 970 achieves an incredible feeling of space inside, plus fast sailing and very comfortable in cruising mode.

Axel Nissen-Lie, Seilas, Norway
Sailors on the French west coast demand high standards of build quality and function. This is a boat you can push hard. Both the exterior and interior design excels and sets a trend.

Jochen Rieker, YACHT, Germany
She has one of the best cockpit layouts, a very fresh interior and – above all – she sailed convincingly well, making her a very good all-rounder.

Lori Schüpbach, Marina.ch, Switzerland
A roomy and comfortably equipped family cruiser that is impressive under sail with a surprising potential for speed and a high level of stability.