RM’s distinctive new flagship, the RM 1380, offers an enticing combination of good sailing qualities, spacious accommodation and twin keels as standard

Product Overview


RM 1380 review: an enticing alternative to the mainstream


Price as reviewed:

£339,360.00 (Base price ex. VAT)

I’ve admired the innovative range of fast yet comfortable cruisers from RM Yachts for many years – their combination of spacious, attractive and brightly lit interiors, planing performance and well planned deck layouts is particularly appealing. And their plywood epoxy hull construction offers a stiff alternative to the norm. But despite having sailed some 250 different yachts in my time, I haven’t had an opportunity to sail an RM until recently. When I did, it was the RM 1380, the yard’s new flagship and its fourth generation 45-footer.

This long anticipated model from the Marc Lombard Yacht Design Group is typical of the brand in many respects. It’s also one of the few yachts of this size offered with a complete range of keel options, including the efficient high aspect 1.95m draught twin keels fitted to our test boat, making this one of the largest ever twin keel production yachts.

Displacement is light by the standards of most cruising yachts of this size, at a shade under 10 tonnes, and is broadly comparable with performance cruisers such as the X46 and Beneteau First 44, rather than the ultra lightweight Pogo 44. Yet this is not a staid design, even if it does adhere to a tried and tested formula.

To promote easy surfing, and even full planing in the right conditions, the underside of the hull profile has relatively little fore and aft rocker. Reduced static waterline beam also improves light airs performance compared to earlier wide-bodied designs. I was eager to try it on the water.

A powerful shape but with minimal fore and aft rocker intended for early planing. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

Power it up

My first day on board the RM 1380 was in lighter airs, when reaching with an asymmetric spinnaker in 5-8 knots of true wind we consistently made around 95% of the windspeed. However, in 7 knots of true wind we struggled to make more than around 4 knots upwind. and there was not enough breeze to drop into a clear and easy groove.

It’s rare that I test a boat these days, especially a performance one, with Dacron sails. A well cut suit made of a high tech fabric would undoubtedly have set better, produced a better feel and given a few degrees closer pointing at similar wind speeds.

waterline beam is porportionately narrower than earlier designs. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

Bearing away and hoisting a big asymmetric spinnaker as the wind built to 10 knots true, our speed rose to a maximum of 7.8 knots at a true wind angle of 105°, with the apparent therefore a long way forward of the beam. Now fully powered up, the boat felt rock solid, with a light, positive and direct feel to the helm.

Dropping the kite and hardening up on a close-hauled course again the RM felt much more alive in 10 knots of breeze than it had in the lighter airs earlier. It was now easy to get in the groove and we made just over 6 knots at true wind angles of 45-48º.

We had marginally more wind for my second day, when clocking 6.5-7 knots to windward, with the helm so well balanced it could be left for short periods to attend sail trim without even engaging the pilot. As well as the generous 1.95m draught, the keels are splayed at an angle of 15°. This combination makes for good windward performance in these conditions and a yacht that’s a totally different proposition to bilge keel yachts of old.

Halyard and primary winches at the companionway. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

RM 1380’s clever sail plan

In some respects the RM 1380 sail plan has more in common with Class 40s than conventional cruising yachts. Granted, the pin-head mainsail and slightly overlapping jib are conventional, as are Code sails for reaching and big asymmetric spinnakers for downwind work. However there’s also a multipurpose staysail that offers more benefits than its modest size might suggest. In strong winds it can be used as a heavy weather jib, with a much more efficient shape than a heavily reefed roller furling headsail.

The staysail is also designed to be used in conjunction with a Code sail or asymmetric kite when power reaching. This increases sail area forward of the centre of effort, reducing weather helm and therefore making the boat easier to steer, whether a human or autopilot is driving. This can markedly improve the motion at sea, while a speed boost of up to half a knot is a useful added bonus.

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A conventional fin keel, or hydraulic lifting keel, both with twin rudders, are also offered. The latter might be a tempting option thanks to its combination of shoal draught giving access to many smaller harbours and anchorages, along with a very deep draught that maximises efficiency when it’s impossible to avoid an upwind passage. However it’s an extra €42,000 and the casing and lifting mechanism impinge a little on space in the galley and saloon.

The deck layout also eschews common thinking for cruising yachts of this size, particularly the arrangement at the companionway where halyards, reefing lines and other key lines are handled. The primary winches are also here, mounted inboard on pedestals at an efficient height, yet under the protection of the sprayhood.

Bowsprit with integrated bow roller. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

With a couple of exceptions it works very well, whether sailing short-handed or fully crewed, while leaving those who want to relax further aft in the cockpit mostly clear of the action. The exceptions are that the mainsheet is handled aft, as are the cleats for the headsail furling lines, which means a degree of planning is required for a lone watch keeper to reef the headsail.

The RM 1380 mainsheet traveller runs across the cockpit just ahead of the helm stations, and is controlled by winches on the coaming each side, with the traveller lines taken to clutches next to the wheels. Our test boat lacked rope bags to prevent the mainsheet and traveller lines tangling.

Side decks are wide and benefit from deep moulded toerails, plus a very effective painted non-slip surface that uses micro balloons to create the texture. As with other RMs the foredeck is large and flat, though hatches are not flush and furling lines are led along the deck, so it’s not as aesthetically clean as some.

Mainsheet traveller is mounted on the cockpit sole. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

An integrated bowsprit includes anchor stowage and roller, while the windlass is just aft of the forestay, neatly concealed under a locker lid.

On deck stowage includes a deep foredeck sail locker, a liferaft locker positioned centrally aft between the helm stations, plus a large lazarette with access each side of the cockpit. This has capacity to take many fenders and potentially an inflatable dinghy, if it’s not stowed on the optional aft stainless steel arch that’s fitted to our test boat.

Bright and refreshing

Below decks the RM 1380 is typically RM, though thoughtfully updated. The sculpted coachroof is higher than it appears, so only three easy steps are needed to descend the wide companionway to a wonderfully bright, full width saloon with a great feeling of space.

RM’s trademark big front coachroof windows provide lots of natural light, although unlike the smaller boats in the range these are slightly too high for me to see out of. On the other hand you can easily see out of the hull windows when sitting on the saloon settees or on the berths in any of the cabins.

U-shaped galley is well planned and has plenty of work surface. Saloon is bright and airy. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

The saloon of our test boat is mostly decorated in white, but with enough natural wood on the saloon and chart tables, the sides of the hull around the windows, and the sole boards to give it a feeling of warmth. U-shaped seating wraps around the table to port, while a 1.83m-long corner settee to starboard can double as a sea berth if fitted with a lee cloth. Aft of that is a navigation station that’s raised to improve the view and has a good size forward-facing chart table with its own seat.

There’s not a great deal of provision for natural ventilation in the saloon, aside from small overhead hatches each side of the mast, plus one above the outboard galley worktop. The two forehatches in the owner’s cabin may help in this respect, but a drawback of the big glazed panels at the front of the coachroof is the potential for solar heat gain on hot, sunny days if the canvas covers are not in place.

Bright, generous and well planned galley. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

The large, almost wraparound galley is to port at the foot of the companionway and is easy to use at sea, even in challenging conditions. It has generous worktop space with decent raised fiddles, 1.5 sinks, plus a lot of refrigeration volume in two wide Isotherm drawers, plus a top-loading fridge. There’s further storage in four drawers, a big locker under the sinks, and eye-level lockers behind sliding doors outboard of the worktop.

The owner’s cabin forward is of a good size, though surprisingly the bed is only 1.4m wide, even though there appears to be space to extend its width. A couple of hull windows and a pair of opening hatches above the aft end of the bed provide natural light and ventilation.

Owner’s cabin has a 1.4m-wide double berth, and stowage is not particularly generous. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

Stowage here is not overly generous, with hanging lockers fitted with fabric shelves, both port and starboard, plus a couple of drawers under the aft end of the berth. There are also four short shelves, plus additional space in open bins for storing small items like phones, keys, books and wallets. En-suite facilities include a large shower stall to port and a separate heads compartment to starboard.

The mirror image quarter cabins are a good size and well lit, though natural ventilation is only via two small opening ports, one in the front of the cockpit well and the other aft by the helm station. Stowage is in a double width hanging locker, plus long, slim shelves and three large bins. There’s plenty of standing area at the forward end of the berth, though the 1.85m headroom is lower than elsewhere. On our test boat the starboard cabin had an optional mini washer-drier installed in place of the hanging locker.

Starboard corner sofa and raised navstation. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

Some owners may not be impressed by the mass market furniture style of the materials used to line lockers, even though this is simply a surface finish for quality plywood. Our test boat also had bare plywood edges on otherwise nicely finished cabin sole boards. Both relatively minor points, it would not be difficult to solve the latter.

Plywood and epoxy hull construction, along with a more conventional glassfibre foam sandwich deck, was a brave move when the yard was founded in the late 1980s. Yet it creates a lightweight and very stiff structure that suits today’s hull shapes perfectly. Encasing the timber in glass cloth and epoxy resin gives good impact protection, so longevity is on a par with other materials.

In addition, no hull moulds are needed, which results in less plastic waste. This also means every boat is painted, which opens up a wide range of hull colour options that helps RMs stand out in any marina or anchorage.
Whichever of the three keel options is chosen – fin, lifting or twin – loads are distributed via a galvanised framework.

Well powered up, sailing under asymmetric spinnaker. Photo: Ludovic Fruchaud/imacis.fr/EYOTY

The 270lt fresh water capacity is not overly generous for boats without a watermaker, however a further 130lt is available as an option. Owners planning to sail longer distances may also want to specify the option that doubles the standard 150lt diesel tankage.

RM 1380 specifications

LOA: 14.40m 47ft 3in
Hull length: 13.30m 43ft 7in Beam 4.50m 14ft 9in
Draught (twin keels): 1.95m 6ft 5in,
Draught (lifting keel): 1.45m 4ft 9in to 3.35m 11ft 0in
Displacement (twin keels): 9,800kg 21,600lb
Displacement (lifting keel): 9,700kg 21,400lb Mainsail 55m2 592ft2
Jib: 55m2 592ft2
Staysail: 33m2 355ft2
Code 0: 110m2 1,184ft2
Asymmetric spinnaker: 150m2 1,614ft2
Fresh water: 270lt 59.4gal (400lt 88 gal option)
Diesel: 150lt 33 gal (300lt 66gal option)
Engine: 60hp diesel (75hp option)
Price as tested: €434,267 ex VAT
Builder: rm-yachts.com

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The market for mid-45ft performance cruisers has become very competitive with a number of well regarded yards offering attractive models. RM has never been afraid to tread a different path, whether in construction materials or standard twin keels. Happily it seems to be a route to an appealing yacht that offers something different to those of larger yards and the 1380 represents an enticing alternative to the mainstream. The boat is generally very nicely finished, the interior is comfortable, attractive and will work well at sea, while the sail plan and deck layout are in general excellent. Even in the twin keel format I sailed, this is a powerful and rewarding yacht to sail, especially once the true wind is above 10 knots, though sadly I didn’t have the chance to experience it in planing conditions.