Bryant Calandra Boat Review: Get the Skinny

The all-new Bryant Calandra helps chart a new course for the Sweetwater, Tenn., builder.

15th March 2014.
By Brett Becker

If you want to see where Bryant as a boat company has been, look at a review of one its signature runabout models like the 210 Bowrider, which was one of our Top 10 Bowriders of 2013. Building all of their models from composite materials (read: no wood) Bryant boats exhibit tremendous pride in workmanship and build quality on par with or better than that of larger manufacturers.

Bryant Calandra boat review

If you want to get an idea of where Bryant is going, take a look at its new Calandra, a distinct and big-thinking departure from the look of the company’s existing lineup of boats.

A bit of perspective: nearly two years ago, former MasterCraft CEO John Dorton purchased a majority interest in Bryant Boats from the original Bryant family, many of whom are still with the company. Dorton’s first goal was to expand the dealer base. At the time Bryant had about 30 dealers; now they have more than 60, and Dorton has set his sights on new product. The Calandra is the first of a few new planned models. There will be a shorter and a longer model forthcoming, according to Bryant’s business development manager Steve Wedemeyer.

At 23’4” long, the Calandra features taller hull sides and less deck above the rub rail, which is different from its existing models. It also employs a unique new windshield design that has broad, swept-back side panes and flat front sections. The overall effect is less intrusion into the boat’s interior and enhancement of the boat’s handsome profile.

We had a chance to go through a Calandra at the 2014 Miami Boat Show and take it out on the water, and the Calandra is every bit as good as you’d expect from a Bryant. With 20 degrees of deadrise, the Calandra dealt with the confused two-foot chop on north Biscayne Bay well. The hull also was noticeably quiet when hitting the larger waves — nothing rattled, not even the Bimini top, and conditions were a bit like those in the boating scene in the movie “Caddyshack.”

The hull design pops right on plane with minimal bow rise, even at modest throttle. Hit the gas a little harder and it’s on plane in less than three seconds. The boat we tested had Volvo Penta’s new 350-horsepower digital-throttle small-block V8, but there are several power options available from both Volvo Penta and MerCruiser; read Stern Drive Engines: MerCruiser vs Volvo Penta for more info.

We ended up raising the Bimini due to an early morning shower, which is one of those opportunities you don’t always get on a sea trial. Not only did it go up quickly, but it covered darn near every bit of the cockpit, which shows forethought involved in its development.

Inside, the Calandra is the first Bryant to make use of a deck-level walk-through to the swim platform, which is covered with rubber Sea Dek matting. The deck is covered not with snap-in carpeting but something called “basketweave” matting, a delightful alternative, pleasing to the eye, easy to maintain, with good grip even when wet.

bryant calandra swim platform

The swim platform on the Bryant Calandra is roomy, grippy underfoot, and good looking.

There’s an abundance of seating aboard, but two of the neatest interior features don’t immediately leap to the eye. The first is hidden quite well, actually because it’s the hinge for the rear facing seat behind the driver. It’s a dual-action hinge, which means you can flip the seat cushion up or forward on the same hinge. You can even do it with one hand. We also dig the reversible backrest on the observer seat, which lets you face forward in an upright position, or face the stern with your legs stretched out on the port lounge. The front seats both have flip-up thigh bolsters, too.

Specifications
Length 23’6″
Beam 8’6″
Draft 2’9″
Deadrise 20 degrees
Displacement 4,750 lbs
Fuel capacity 49 gal.

We also loved the helm, which was fitted with an optional Garmin digital display and private-labeled analog gauges. If you don’t want the Garmin unit, Bryant uses that space for a small stowage compartment, which is perfect for phones and keys. The upper dash was upholstered with French-stitching, with a unique vinyl that looked and felt like fabric. That fabric also was used on the coaming panels and on the port-side dash, which concealed a good size head compartment. Our test model came with a sink and an optional vacuum flush commode.

Belowdecks nearly all runabouts have stowage for skis and wakeboards, but they’re hardly ever as large as the one in the Calandra. Simply put, it’s huge—and that reflects the kind of big thinking coming from Bryant these days. The Calandra is your proof.

Other Choices: The Rinker Captiva 236 is another brave new bowrider which costs about $1,600 less than the Calandra (it has a base MSRP of $58,598), but doesn’t have that tricked-out aft seat nor the head compartment. Or, for just a couple thousand more, you could look at a slightly larger model like the Stingray 250 LR.

View Bryant Calandra listings.


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About the author:

Brett Becker

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Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for Boats.com, he regularly writes and shoots for BoatTrader.com. Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

2 thoughts on “Bryant Calandra Boat Review: Get the Skinny

  1. We also got to drive one at the Orlando dealers meeting, having owned 2 previous Bryants with no problems. We loved everything about the Calandra and are having one built for us as I type. What a boat…. We have evolved as boaters and so has Bryant!!!

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