When the Jupiter 31 launched in 1989, the semi-custom boat broke new ground as a performance-oriented center console. It was designed and built in Jupiter, Florida, by Nick Scafidi, a member of the Hall of Champions of the American Power Boat Association, and his partner Joe Moran, a master fiberglass craftsman. Combining their racing skills and boatbuilding acumen, the duo first sketched the boat on a napkin at a waterfront bar and carried that design through production. “Back then, we didn’t have CAD or anything but seat-of-our-pants experience,” says Nick. “We designed and built the boat from scratch, including the plugs and the 64 molds we needed to build it.”
The results speak for the team’s commitment. Void of any wood, the boat’s sophisticated composite construction featured Airex foam and Divinycell coring, hollow fiberglass stringers and bulkheads, isophathlic resins and knitted bi-axial fiberglass cloth, including a solid fiberglass bottom. The 24-degree deep-V hull included a flat section that started at a half-inch wide at midships and expanded to around 11 inches at the stern, giving the hull lift without the wandering typical of some deep-V running surfaces. The lift enabled quick planing and faster acceleration with minimal bow rise, while the boat’s razor-sharp 60-degree entry and three lifting strakes per side left spray in its wake. Having driven one of the first Jupiter 31s in sloppy ocean conditions off Key West, Florida, for several hours, I can personally attest to its rough-water manners.
A large center console for the 1990s, the 31 had a 9-foot, 6-inch beam with walk-in accessibility at the console, where there was an enclosed head, a shower and over 6 feet of headroom. Fishing features included a bait-prep center, a 30-gallon livewell and raw- and freshwater washdowns. Buyers could customize their boats with a hardtop, outriggers, leaning post, helm enclosure and more. Early models were outfitted with an aluminum bracket for twin 200-hp outboards that delivered top speeds over 40 knots. Newer boats could accommodate twin 300-hp engines.
The original owners of Jupiter were building about 10 boats a year until they ran into financial issues. In 1997, Carl Herndon, founder of Blackfin Yacht Corporation, took ownership and kept the brand afloat. For the next few years, the Jupiter 31 gained traction, and various refinements were made to the original design in 2002, which rekindled consumer demand. It remained in production until 2008.
This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue.