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The pursuit of power

25_pursuitofpower_01Here's a look at some of the new boats you'll find at the fall and winter shows

As we slowly pull out of the recession, boatbuilders are eager to showcase their new vessels at the fall and winter boat shows. This new era of thrift notwithstanding, builders are hopeful that new product and fresh technology, combined with pent-up demand, will prompt customers to consider buying new.

"There's just as much value out there in buying a new boat as there is in buying a pre-owned one," Tiara Yachts director of marketing David Walsh says. "Just as customers did five years ago, they should consider both options when making their boat decision."

Walsh continued: "There is new technology out there and there are new products. You're going to see value in the marketplace for having a 2010-2011 model versus buying one with low hours."

David Hensel, brand and marketing director at Grand Banks Yachts, agrees.

"Regardless of what is going on in the marketplace with regard to brokerage inventory, we believe that new boats and new designs will deliver value to the customer," Hensel says. "We've had two or three new boat releases each year and we continue to do that."

Grand Banks will showcase its new Aleutian 53 at four East Coast boat shows. Tiara plans to unveil its new 4500 Sovran at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The Newport (R.I.) International Boat Show starts it all off Sept. 16-19, followed a few days later by the Norwalk (Conn.) International In-Water Boat Show (Sept. 23-26). The schedule continues with the United States Powerboat Show (Oct. 14-17) in Annapolis, Md., and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 28-Nov. 1). The New York National Boat Show takes place Jan. 19-23, followed by the Miami International Boat Show (Feb. 17-21).

The new boats in this preview are scheduled to be on display at one or more of these events. Our collection represents 10 builders, with vessels ranging from 17 to 57 feet and pricing from $21,000 to $1.6 million.

Nearly every boat type is represented here - from a 1,150-pound center console with a 60-hp, 4-stroke outboard to a 27.5-ton fast trawler with twin Volvo Penta IPS II 900s. In between are two tug-style vessels, a 34-foot center console, a 46-foot New England-style express with Zeus pod drives and a 53-foot long-distance voyager.

Despite the slow economy, Formula Boats has launched a new series of boats within its fleet. The FX series melds the styles and features of Formula's performance line (Fas3Tech) and its Sun Sports and Super Sports dayboats, says Sam Blythe, product development manager. The first boat in the company's new product line is a 29-footer, the 290 FX 4. A 31-footer and a 34-footer will follow, Blythe says.

"I think there's definitely a latent buying desire in the consumer," Blythe says. "When they're going to act on that is anyone's guess. I know manufacturers are building up to go to shows - we certainly are. We are going to be showing new product."

Manufacturers also are repackaging or redesigning their boats above the waterline to generate sales. Tiara, for instance, since May has been offering its Sovran 3500 as a limited-edition vessel with a significantly reduced price. The builder and its dealers have chopped about $165,000 from the retail price, offering the boat with Volvo-Penta IPS400 diesels for $399,000, Walsh says.

"The program has a specific shorter list of optional equipment or many more standard features with a lot of value," Walsh says. "With the dealers, we decided to price this boat more commensurately, based on the market."

Tiara plans to show the Sovran 3500 LE at the Norwalk show.

Boat shows also are a good way to get a look at today's new propulsion offerings, including big 4-stroke outboards and pod drive systems with joystick helm control. The Grand Banks 46 Eastbay SX, for instance, is powered with Cummins MerCruiser Diesel's Zeus, while Volvo Penta IPS II powers the Island Pilot 535. And the Scout 345XFS is powered by twin Yamaha Gen II F300 4-strokes.

Boston Whaler 170 Super Sport

The 170 Super Sport becomes the largest boat in the builder's Super Sport line, which also includes 13- and 15-foot models.

25_pursuitofpower_02"We saw an opportunity to bring a simple skiff to the market ... that has a more attractive price point for a 17-foot boat," says Ron Berman, Boston Whaler's vice president of product development and engineering. "The 170 is a multipurpose boat. As the Super Sport models grow in size, not only do they get roomier, but they also have the ability to support more activities."

The standard 60-hp engine will push the 170 Super Sport to a top speed of 33 mph, while the boat tops out at 47 mph with the optional 90-hp 4-stroke. The 90 packs plenty of power to pull water skiers or wakeboarders and it provides excellent fuel economy - more than 8 miles to the gallon between 20 and 30 mph. With the 60-hp engine, the boat delivers 3.5 to 4.2 mpg at 20 to 27 mph.

Standard equipment includes a dash glove compartment and watertight Pelican Case, a forward anchor locker, a molded fiberglass side console with storage and a portside storage shelf with a storage net below. Options include a towing arch, a poling platform, sun top and a bow rail. The boat will be at most of the fall and winter shows, Berman says.

LOA: 17 feet BEAM: 6 feet, 10 inches DRAFT: 9 inches DISPLACEMENT: 1,150 pounds HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 12 gallons POWER: 60- or 90-hp Mercury 4-stroke TOP SPEED: 32 mph with 60 hp; 47 mph with 90 hp BEST MILEAGE: 4.4 mpg at 18 mph with 60 hp; 8.8 at 20 mph with 90 hp PRICE: $20,662 (boat, 60-hp motor, trailer) or $22,549 (boat, 90-hp motor, trailer) CONTACT: Boston Whaler, (877) 294-5645. www.whaler.com

Chris-Craft 20 Launch

This 20-foot bowrider joins the 22, 25 and 28 in Chris-Craft's lineup of launches. Stainless steel and varnished teak abound on this highly finished runabout, which can be powered with either a MerCruiser or Volvo Penta sterndrive.

26_pursuitofpower_01The engine sits under a padded engine cover. The tumblehome transom is fitted with a teak swim platform. Teak also accents the gunwale tops.

Seating includes a large athwartships cockpit settee and pedestal helm, and companion seats with stainless-steel bases. The windshield is also stainless steel, as well as the cup holders in the open bow.

You'll find storage under the bow cushions and under the sole along the centerline. Handrails are placed strategically from to bow to swim platform. The boat will be shown in Miami.

LOA: 20 feet, 2 inches BEAM: 7 feet ,11 inches DRAFT: 34 inches (drive lowered) DISPLACEMENT: 2,913 pounds HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 34 gallons fuel POWER: Volvo 4.3L Gxi V6 (225 hp); optional power: Volvo 5.0L Gxi (270 hp) or Mercury 5.0L MPI (260 hp); TOP SPEED: 49 mph with Volvo 5.0L Gxi BEST MILEAGE: 3.6 mpg at 29.1 mph PRICE: $49,000 with standard power; from $51,000 to $58,000 with various power options. CONTACT: Chris-Craft, (941) 351-4900. www.chriscraft.com

Ranger R27

This trailerable pilothouse boat lengthens the season in cold-weather climates and gives boaters in Florida and other hot areas some relief from the sun and heat, says Jeff Messmer, vice president of sales and marketing at Ranger Tugs in Kent, Wash.

26_pursuitofpower_02A large cockpit of 50 square feet has allowed the builder to house the 180-hp Yanmar diesel outside the pilothouse. A midship office area on the port side converts to a two-person berth. A hydraulic piston allows the portside dinette to change into a berth or a lounge.

The vee berth is 6 feet, 5 inches long with underneath storage. The helm seat can be flipped forward to free up more counter space in the starboard-side galley, which includes a sink, refrigerator, microwave and a combination propane stove/oven.

Aft of the galley is the head, with electric-flush toilet, glass vessel sink and a shower. Standard equipment includes a bow and stern thruster, trim tabs, windlass, swim platform, spotlight, teak and holly sole and a TV/DVD player. "So often, people go to buy a boat and the option list is three pages long," Messmer says. "They get frustrated because those are things they really wanted on the boat anyway, so we just make them standard."

Options include a 2.7kW generator and a pilothouse solar panel. Look for the R27 at Trawler Fest in Baltimore (Sept. 24-26), the Tampa Boat Show (Sept. 10-12), and the shows in Newport, Annapolis, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

LOA: 27 feet, 1 inch BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches DRAFT: 26 inches DISPLACEMENT: 6,200 pounds HULL TYPE: semidisplacement TANKAGE: 100 gallons fuel, 40 gallons water, 30 gallons waste POWER: single 180-hp Yanmar diesel TOP SPEED: 20.6 knots BEST MILEAGE: 6 nmpg at 6 knots; 2.5 nmpg at 16 knots PRICE: $149,937 CONTACT: Ranger Tugs, (253) 839-5213. www.rangertugs.com

Formula 290 FX4

With the 290, Formula launches its FX lineup of highly styled dayboats. At press time, the Decatur, Ind., company was building the 310 FX5, which will be followed by a 34-footer, the 340 FX6.

The builder coats the FX 4's hull (above the waterline), deck and other topside components with a silver metallic Imron paint.

26_pursuitofpower_03"It's still a dayboat," says Sam Blythe, Formula's product development manager. "It's still family-oriented, but it has high styling that you might see in boats with expensive paint jobs."

In the cockpit, both the L-shaped lounge and aft-facing settee convert to padded sunning lounges. A wet bar positioned aft of the companion seat/lounge contains a sink, small cooler and carbon-fiber counter. The driver sits at a starboard helm with a two-person seat, a silver-and-chrome steering wheel and oversized Livorsi gauges with blue LED backlighting.

A centerline windshield walkthrough provides access to the bow, which is flanked by low-profile rails. The two foredeck hatch covers are painted with the same silver metallic paint. A settee with Ultraleather upholstery wraps around the forward section of the cabin. Its dinette table lowers and, with two filler cushions, creates a two-person berth. An entertainment center with Corian countertop and stainless-steel cup holders, a hanging locker and a head with porcelain toilet, vanity and sink round out the cabin's creature comforts.

Optional equipment includes either a 5 or 7.3kW genset, air conditioning, cockpit refrigerator and windlass.

LOA: 29 feet BEAM: 9 feet DRAFT: 40 inches DISPLACEMENT: 8,950 pounds HULL TYPE: deep-vee TANKAGE: 110 gallons fuel, 20 gallons water, 22 gallons waste POWER: twin 377 Mag MerCruiser (320 hp) Bravo III sterndrives TOP SPEED: 57 mph MILEAGE: 1.6 mpg at 36 mph PRICE: $225,510 with twin 320-hp CONTACT: Formula, (800) 736-7685. www.formulaboats.com

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