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Dazzling display

New-boat introductions have been scarce at the Miami International Boat Show in recent years, but that changed in a big way this year

It was non-stop. One after another, boatbuilders introduced new models at this year’s Miami International Boat Show and the Yacht & Brokerage Boat Show in Miami Beach — a stark contrast to the dearth of new-boat announcements in the last few years.

Chris-Craft Corsair 36

Since the start of the recession, many builders presented “new” models that were actually current hulls with deck, cabin or helm changes. This year, there was a deluge of truly fresh fiberglass at the two February shows — about 20 in all. Myriad engines and drives power these boats, from waterjets and pod drives to sterndrives and outboards. And, as you’ll see, technology has reached the point at which just about any type of engine can be married to joystick steering.

The boats in this roundup range from 16 to 95 feet and include about a half-dozen center consoles, a handful of runabouts, a 40-foot express fishing boat, a 63-foot convertible, a dual console, two sport yachts and two motoryachts. Prices range from about $12,000 to nearly $9 million. Let’s hit the docks.

Mako sees its Pro Skiff series, which includes a 16-footer and two 17-footers, as a boat-motor-trailer package that’ll lure anglers off the pier or beach and onto the water, says John Bower, manager of saltwater products for Tracker Marine Group, Mako’s parent company. “Skiffs haven’t historically been an innovative market and skiffs have some faults that we felt if we did our homework we could avoid and come up with a better product,” Bower says. “And from a cost standpoint our philosophy focuses on consumer value and trying to get as many people out on the water as economically possible.”
The Mako Pro 16 Skiff CC is $12,395 with a 25-hp Mercury 4-stroke and trailer. The Pro 17 Skiff CC is $13,595 with a 30-hp Mercury 4-stroke and trailer. The Pro 17 Skiff Tiller is $10,395 with a 25-hp Mercury 4-stroke and trailer.
“We’ve come up with a package that can be towed with a Class I hitch by virtually any vehicle and at the same time can be operated as economically as possible,” Bower says. “If you look at gas prices today, economy is never a bad thing.”

Mako Pro 17 Skiff CC

Boston Whaler, like Sea Ray, has been busy with product development. Ron Berman, vice president of product development and engineering, presented the 210 Montauk, 285 Conquest, 285 Conquest Pilothouse, 315 Conquest and 170 Dauntless. The latter two boats were being shown for the first time, while the Montauk and 285 models made their official debut in Fort Lauderdale.
Charlie Foss, an industrial designer with Whaler, showed me a neat innovation aboard the Conquests — a pullout barbecue or fishing station that’s recessed inside the helm deck’s companion area.
Prices are $44,112 for the new 170 Dauntless with a 90-hp Mercury, and $330,905 for the 315 Conquest with twin 300-hp Mercury Verados.

Boston Whaler's 170 Dauntless was shown for the first time at the Miami show.

Sea Ray vice president of marketing Rob Noyes had more than one new boat to talk about, as well as new technologies and components. The new 230 SLX bowrider was equipped with Sea Ray’s new Active Trim Control, which manipulates running attitude and wake height for water skiing and wakeboarding.
“There’s an automatic setting,” Noyes says. “These trim tabs will automatically adjust to the conditions when running the boat. So if you’re a big guy like me and you move from the port to the starboard side, the operator doesn’t have to worry about the boat listing.”
The 230 SLX with Active Trim Control, a trailer and 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0L MPI ECT Bravo III sterndrive retails for $58,230.
Noyes also talked about Sea Ray’s Quiet Ride technology, which is featured in the 250 SLX. Quiet Ride is a “proprietary combination of acoustical forensic, engineering and sound-attenuation materials,” an innovation the builder has worked on for four years.
“Our goal was simple: to be able to run down the lake or Intracoastal and not have to shout,” Noyes says. “How quiet is Quiet Ride? … We measured decibels in a 250 SLX in 14 different documented locations. Then we took a Quiet Ride [250 SLX] and took those same decibel readings. We accomplished, on average, a 7-decibel reduction. In certain places we had in excess of 10 and 12 decibels.” Those places included the port aft seat and the companion seat.
Noyes used a hammer and then two golf balls to illustrate the sound and vibration improvements that the Quiet Ride materials bring to a boat.
The 250 SLX with Quiet Ride and a 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG ECT Bravo III sterndrive (SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift) retails for $94,758.

Not only is the 25 Bay a new boat for Contender, it’s also the builder’s first bay boat. The company is known for its rugged offshore center console fishing platforms. “I would say we will have other bay boat models in the future,” says Les Stewart Jr., Contender’s marketing director. “We’re excited. It’s a new market for us.”
The 25 with a single Yamaha F350 should approach the 70-mph mark at wide open throttle and cruises in the high 30s, Stewart says. Price: $81,000 with a Yamaha F300.

Pursuit announced its C 260, a midrange center console with lots of seating in the bow for family cruising, as well as room for anglers to work fish. The boat has a 30-gallon live well, a 31-gallon fishbox, and sit-down or stand-up seating at the helm. “It brings yacht-like quality to our product,” Pursuit president Tom Slikkers says.
The builder also introduced its pink-hulled “Pursuit of the Cure,” a 315 Offshore it is displaying to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer research. Slikkers says the company committed to making a donation to breast cancer research for every Pursuit it sold at the show.
Base prices for the C260 are $129,400 with twin 200-hp Yamaha 4-strokes, $114,795 with twin 150s and $112,500 with a single 350.

Pursuit C 260

The Horizon 260 and V275 sport cruiser are new boats from Four Winns. “With the 260 you will start to recognize the common looks and design traits in our redesigned Four Winns line,” says Roch Lambert, group president of Rec Boat Holdings, the owner of Four Winns, Wellcraft and Glastron. “It’s important that people recognize our boats from a distance.”
The Horizon 260 sells for $84,131 with a 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 Gi/DP sterndrive. The V275 sells for $90,769 with a 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 Gi/DP sterndrive.

Sea Fox Boat Co., of Moncks Corner, S.C., presented its new 180 XT — an 18-foot, 42-mph bay boat with a 90-hp 4-stroke Yamaha that sells for $22,700. “It’s a home run — it really is,” senior vice president Jeff DeBar says. “The early sales tell us we’ve got a winner on our hands.”
The smallest of Sea Fox’s bay boats — it also builds a 20-, a 22- and a 24-footer — the 18 was introduced in January at the Houston boat show. “The ride is amazing,” he says.
DeBar says dealers welcomed the 18 for its price point. “We didn’t cheapen it up,” he says. He says the bay series, introduced about a year and a half ago, was targeted at the Gulf of Mexico market — Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas — where big oil companies employ locals who like Sea Fox’s shallow-draft bay boats.
The 180 XT sells for $22,700 with a 90-hp Yamaha 4-stroke.

At the Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center, Ranger Tugs introduced the R-31 — a single-diesel semidisplacement trailerable trawler with a retractable flybridge. Price: $279,937 with 300-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel. (Turn to Page 90 for more on this boat.)

Grand Banks announced two new models, both with pod drives: the 43 Heritage EU, which will replace the 41 EU that launched in 2008, and a new 50 Eastbay in SX and FB configurations. The new Eastbay represents a sleeker design that David Hensel, director of brand and marketing, calls a “strong leap forward for us.” The first 50SX will go into production this summer and ship late this year for its debut at next year’s Miami show.

Grand Banks 50 Eastbay SX (artist's rendering)

Chris-Craft pulled the cover off its new Launch 32 and Corsair 36. “Our customers have been asking for the 32 launch for several years, but with the downturn the time was not right,” Chris-Craft president Steve Heese says. “The 36 is probably our most successful boat ever and we’ve redone it.”
The Launch 32 is powered with twin Volvo Penta sterndrives with joystick steering. The new Corsair 36, powered by twin Volvo Penta 8.1-liter sterndrives, tops out at 48 mph with a cruise of 28 mph. This Corsair uses the same hull design as the previous Corsair 36 but has a new deck layout, Heese says. The Launch 32 is new from the keel up. It has an LOA of 34 feet, 3 inches, with a beam of 10 feet and a deadrise at the transom of 20 degrees. The Launch 32 is priced at $199,196 with twin 300-hp MerCruiser sterndrives. The Corsair 36 is priced at $502,240 with twin 380-hp Volvo Penta sterndrives (gas).

Grady-White showed the new Freedom 335 dual console powered with twin Yamaha F350s. With a centerline length of 36 feet, 6 inches and a beam of 11 feet, 7 inches, it’s the largest dual console on the market, according to the builder. “Look at this cockpit — huge and uncluttered. It rivals any center console,” said David Neese, Grady-White vice president of engineering, in his introduction while standing in the boat. “But what really sets this boat apart is the amount of amenities … that allow you to have fun in the sun — or the shade.”
With that, another Grady representative pushed a button that dispatched a shade that covers the entire cockpit. “I don’t know if anyone is timing this, but in about 15 or 20 seconds we’ve turned a great fishing boat into a phenomenal cruising boat.”
I did time it; it was actually 35 seconds.
The Freedom 335 sells for $296,675 with twin F350 Yamahas.

Tiara chief executive officer David Slikkers unveiled the 3600 Coronet. The boat has “all the hallmarks of a Tiara — true diamond non-skid; wide, safe walkways; full composite windshield; easy tilt-away helm for standing and sitting; and composite fuel tanks,” says Slikkers.
A Galati Yachts representative, Jennifer Galati, christened the vessel, smashing a bottle of champagne on the rubrail while standing with Slikkers on the foredeck. Prices: $426,000 with twin 375-hp Mercury 8.2L DTS gas inboards, $504,800 with 380-hp Cummins QSB5.9 diesels, $585,800 with QSB5.9s and ZF pods.

Tiara 3600 Coronet

Representatives of 6-year-old Statement Marine, which was at the show for the fourth time, showed the 368 SUV Crossover — a high-performance boat with family boating attributes. “It is a crossover boat, so it can be a ridiculous hardcore fishing boat to a luxurious family boat,” says company founder Todd Werner. “We’re not the only ones doing this, but we are taking [the luxury] to the next level.”
Price: $325,000 to $350,000 with triple 300-hp Verados.

The Hinckley Company occupied its usual nook at the in-water portion of the show at Sea Isle Marina. I sat down with Hinckley sales director Eric Champlin in the saloon of the new Talaria 48 Motor Yacht, which was on display at a boat show for the first time.
“It’s our two-cabin, two-head, under-50-foot Talaria jetboat,” Champlin says. “It’s actually hull No. 3. At this show we’ve gotten a number of people out [for demo rides], and they’ve been very impressed, so that’s exciting.”
The 37-foot Hinckley Picnic Boat Mark III neighbored the Talaria 48 MY. “For 2012, we have switched to Yanmar V-8 engines, the 370s,” Champlin says. “These engines are very quiet, smooth and fast. It’s a game-changer for that boat.”
Pricing was unavailable.

At the Yacht & Brokerage Show on Collins Avenue the new Cabo Hardtop Express, the 40 HTX, powered with Cummins MerCruiser Diesel Zeus pod drives, was on display — all lit up with blue LED lighting. The sportfishing boat follows the 44 HTX, which was introduced last year. The 40’s new helm deck has a centerline helm seat, a companion seat to starboard and L-shaped seating to port. Price: about $1 million, fully equipped with the Zeus package.

Cabo 40 HTX

Also in the water at the Yacht & Brokerage Show, produced by Show Management, was the new Hatteras GT63 Enclosed Flybridge. The flybridge offers a comfortable, climate-controlled upper helm. Powered with twin 1,900-hp Caterpillars, the boat hits 40 knots. Price is $3.5 million to $4 million, depending on options and power.
James Meyer, president and CEO of Hatteras Collection & Hatteras Yachts, announced plans to unveil a 95 Raised Pilothouse in the summer of 2013. It’ll be the builder’s new flagship. “When we sell this yacht we really want it to be a full turnkey purchase,” says Meyer. “For instance, the hardtop over the flybridge is part of the base boat. The zero-speed stabilizer is part of the base boat. The big stuff is standard and the little stuff is standard. … All you have to do is add water.”
The 95 RPH will be priced at slightly less than $9 million, Meyer says.

Also at the Yacht & Brokerage Show were the Cranchi M40 ST and Fifty8 FB, making their U.S. debut just a few weeks after the builder’s Endurance 30 was named European Boat of the Year for 2012.
The Fifty8 FB sells for $1.5 million with twin diesel Volvo Penta IPS 900s (700 hp). The M40 ST is $537,040 with twin 330-hp diesel Volvo Penta sterndrives.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.