Reinell V190

By Andy Adams

A solid and good looking performer.

You may need this Test Bench article just to tell the difference between our test boat, the Reinell V190, and a Sea Ray. The Reinell people would like you to say a Sea Ray “looks just like a Reinell”, but usually it’s the other way around.

There is an increasing degree of similarity in boat design these days; in fact, it almost looks like standardization. Sea Ray first started marketing this style in 1968 and has refined it into what is a sort of industry standard.

The Reinell Vl90 test boat was a head-turner, sporting bright yellow topsides, white deck and bottom, and rich brown interior.

Reinell actually is a larger company in terms of sales volume than Sea Ray and can well afford to produce almost any design. But they have chosen to go with what I’ll call the Sea Ray style for a number of reasons.

It isn’t for styles sake; it’s engineering. The boat has no flat surfaces on it. The bottom has a very deep V for a good ride in rough water. It is liberally straked from bow to stern for lift and ride-softening. The bottom shape starts at the bow and curves in an arc almost all the way back to the middle of the cockpit before it straightens out for the planing section.

Reinell V190 - SeatsThis series of curves gives the boat better running characteristics than a flat hull. The continuous curve aids water flow at high speeds, and the compound curves add considerable strength. The deck is also curved for design and strength.

The boat should ride high in the water, on the after third of its bottom and with its bow up. The deck dips down from the windscreen forward, reversing the sheer-line, aiding visibility and adding a lighter look.

A five-section, skiff-type windscreen allows flat safety glass to be used without the cost and inconvenience of special shapes. It is easy to make one section swingable for deck access; stainless steel bow rails would then be a necessary and a prominent design feature.

Reinell intends to keep this hull shape for 1979 (the test boat was a 1978) but will redesign the deck to increase interior room and give it more “Reinell”. There will be several improvements to detail.

Reinell V190 - EngineThe Reinell V190 planes off without getting its nose up too high or burying its stern. Using only partial throttle will still do the trick, but the boat then takes some time to level off. Unless you are smart with the trim, the boat is prone to light cavitation and digs down fairly hard.

The trim setting is very important to performance. Even a mildly tight corner is improved by bringing the stern-drive unit in a touch. Trimming out at high speed adds several mph to the top end but not to rpms, so it’s hull attitude here that matters most.

I have often commented on excessive steering tension in one boat or another, and the culprit is often a Mercruiser 165. The design or mounting of this drive pack at times makes steering unmanageable, especially when trimming is poor.

Beyond that, the 165 is a good engine and drive. The test boat started and ran without fault except at high rpm. This 165 ran more roughly at full throttle than others I’ve driven, and I suspect the mounting could use more isolation from the rest of the boat. But the engine was new and should smoothen out some with use.

Fuel mileage was good, at 4.85mpg, although not the best in its class. While discussing fuel in general, I’d like to suggest that Reinell relocate the fuel filler when they do the new deck. The 1978 has the filler mounted on the deck in the centre above the transom with the breather lying only inches below it. A large and long line runs down beside the engine. The tank is mounted along the keel under the floor. The end result is a strong tendency to spit gas back into the water in embarrassingly large quantities.

Moving to the interior, the layout is conventional, but missing some of the features I expect to find in a boat of this class. There is a large but difficult-to-get-at area for storage under the deck. The access is through a small opening in the centre console, not really adequate to handle skis and large items. This will be corrected in 1979, as will the lack of a cooler.

Reinell V190 - Instrument PanelOtherwise, leave it alone! I loved the seats, which are very deep in the squabs with lots of thigh support, nicely contoured for lateral support while cornering, and beautifully upholstered. Best of all, they are not made of untreated plywood but heavy molded plastic that feels like soft, pliable but strong nylon. The construction allows some flex for additional cushioning and the seats slide fore and aft as well as folding flat. High marks here for sure.

The instrument pod is hooded from glare and fairly complete, but the lack of a trim gauge was annoying. The fuel gauge was not working and neither was the cigarette lighter, but occasionally no gauges worked. It seems that the wiring was done rather haphazardly. One of the multi-line connectors had a habit of coming undone, knocking out the bilge pump, blower, some lights, and likely the lighter. This is just sloppy, and again I hope the new deck will solve the problem.

For family use, skiing, trailering and so on, the Reinell Vl90 is a very useful boat. It seems to be strong, with no rattles or squeaks, and truly has a lovely interior. I had too many criticisms, though. Attention to detail was simply slack.

I don’t mean there is anything structurally wrong or that the boat’s unsafe, but it’s the little things that can drive you crazy. If I bought one I would spend time cleaning up the dash wiring, picking wires out of the bilge and generally straightening things up.

But I have to temper my comments with the price. Topping out at $12,250 (1978 price), the Reinell is a very good boat for the price. It’s almost $2,000 less than some competitors. If you’re handy with a screw-driver, it could be the best bargain in its class.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s November 1978 issue.

Engine: Mercruiser 165 (6-cyl Chevrolet). 165 hp.
Length: 18 ft 4 in
Beam: 7.5 feet
Weight: 2200 lbs
Propeller: 151/4 x 21

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 – The Reinell V190 may “look like a Searay” but is a solid and well-appointed boat for its price.
Photo 2 – The seats are deep in the squabs with lateral support and fine upholstery.
Photo 3 – The engine is a Mercriser 165.
Photo 4 – Instruments are hooded from glare.

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