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The pursuit of power

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

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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.

"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."

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

A 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.

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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.

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.

"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."

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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.

Scout 345XFS

This high-end center console debuted at the 2010 Miami show. Since then, sales have been healthy, says Alan Lang, Scout Boats' national and international sales manager.

"Our Fort Lauderdale dealer has sold five of them himself," he says. "It's doing very well."

The boat has a lot going for it, including meticulous workmanship and attention to detail, a wave-piercing deep-vee hull and the fuel economy of new Yamaha outboards, Lang says. "I've taken the boat on demo rides maybe 40 times and have yet to get a drop of water on me," he says. "It's a very dry boat and has a soft ride."

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The 345XFS is sort of a hybrid in the center console market, marrying the characteristics of a hard-core fishing boat with the comforts of a dayboat, says Scout Boats owner Steve Potts. He says he kept the boat relatively narrow to maximize ride quality on long hauls to and from the fishing grounds.

The 345XFS will appease the day-cruising crowd, with side-by-side, forward-facing foredeck lounge seats and port and starboard bow seating. If you want to relax in the shade, the hardtop extends aft under power. In the console, you'll find a galley with sink, refrigerator, microwave, head, shower and a two-person berth.

"There are a lot of wow factors on this boat," Potts says. For instance, the helm seats are covered with a vinyl-and-Sunbrella hybrid fabric that's more comfortable than conventional upholstery, Potts says.

A bow thruster, generator and air conditioning are options. The boat will be shown in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, and possibly at the New York show.

LOA: 34 feet, 11 inches BEAM: 10 feet, 9 inches DRAFT: 27 inches DISPLACEMENT: 9,100 pounds (without engines); 10,300 pounds with twin F300s HULL TYPE: deep-vee TANKAGE: 330 gallons fuel, 30 gallons water, 10 gallons waste POWER: Twin Yamaha F300s or twin F350s TOP SPEED: 55 mph with F300s; 64 mph with F350s BEST MILEAGE: 1.4 mpg at 40 mph (with F300s); 1.2 mpg at 29 mph (with F350s) PRICE: $283,871 with F300s; $292,321 with F350s CONTACT: Scout, (843) 821-0068.

Boston Whaler 345 Conquest Open

Here's an example of an existing boat being offered in a new configuration. The 345 Conquest hit the market three years ago. Front and side windshields that extend to the hardtop enclose the helm deck on three sides. The new Conquest Open's side windshields are much lower, stopping well short of the hardtop in a sloping design. Customers in South Florida and overseas warm-climate markets, such as the Mediterranean, wanted a 345 with a "more open, airy feeling," Berman says. "We're also offering the Open with a new marlin tower and we've made a few enhancements to other parts of the boat that affect this version and the existing [closed helm deck] version."

Those changes include a new cockpit tackle center, added galley storage, redesigned companionway steps and a center windshield panel for ventilation. The marlin tower comes with 23-foot outriggers. If the customer orders Raymarine electronics, the outboard engine data can be routed to the upper station's Raymarine displays, Berman says.

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The Open and original share the same interior, mechanical systems, cockpit and hull design, Berman says. Customers can get the marlin tower on the original 345 for the 2011 model year. The Open will be displayed at the shows in Fort Lauderdale, New York and Miami.

LOA: 35 feet, 6 inches BEAM: 11 feet, 8 inches DRAFT: 22 inches DISPLACEMENT: 14,200 pounds (no engines) HULL TYPE: deep-vee TANKAGE: 421 gallons fuel, 20 gallons waste, 45 gallons water POWER: Twin Mercury Verado 300-hp outboards SPEED: 43 mph top with twins; 53 mph with triples MILEAGE: 0.83 mpg at 26 mph with twins; 1.0 mpg at 31 mph with triples PRICE: $358,140 with twin 300s; $396,353 with triple 300s CONTACT: Boston Whaler, (877) 294-5645.

Nordic Tug 39

The 39-footer replaces the Nordic Tug 37 in the Burlington, Wash., builder's fleet of pilothouse trawlers.

"We've made some substantial improvements in terms of visibility, comfort, convenience and systems to produce a boat that is better than our 37 ... with only about a 2 percent price increase," Nordic Tugs president and CEO Andy Lund says. The company has built 214 Nordic Tugs 37s since 1998, when the model was introduced.

Improvements to the 39, a Lynn Senour-designed semidisplacement hull, include larger pilothouse and saloon windows. The helm console has been expanded to accommodate large chart-plotter and radar-display screens. A standard Llebroc captain's chair provides better comfort - critical for proper watch-keeping during lengthy passages, Lund says.

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"What drove all of this were customer comments and owner comments," Lund says. "For instance, our window mullions in the pilothouse were too thick and impeded visibility, so we listened and reduced the size of the mullions."

The L-shaped settee in the saloon has been converted to a U-shaped version, which is a better setup for conversations, Lund says. The redesigned head features a new Tecma toilet, a fully molded shower stall with a bench seat and a door that slides open and closed on a space-saving curved track. The 39 will be shown in Newport, Norwalk, Annapolis and Miami.

LOA: 40 feet BEAM: 12 feet, 11 inches DRAFT: 4 feet, 4 inches DISPLACEMENT: 26,000 pounds (full load) HULL TYPE: semi-displacement TANKAGE: 320 gallons fuel, 144 gallons water, 41 gallons waste POWER: Cummins QSB 380-hp diesel TOP SPEED: 17.5 knots BEST MILEAGE: 3.8 nmpg at 8 knots for a 1,000-nm range PRICE: $492,800 CONTACT: Nordic Tugs, (360) 757-8847.

Tiara Sovran 4500

Tiara's Sovran series - high-end express cruising yachts - includes the 3500, 3900, 5800, and now the 4500. Customer input resulted in a windshield and hardtop design to eliminate the center window and improve visibility; a longer swim platform for a wider variety of dinghies; transom trunk with more storage, a lounge seat and a grill; and cabin skylights and more storage. Also available is a new sunroof-employing technology currently available on the 5800 Sovran.

At press time, the builder had limited performance information. "I don't have performance data yet, but we certainly expect this to be a 30-knot," Walsh says. "We're shooting for a 30-knot cruise."

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The 4500 Sovran will take the place of the Sovran 4300.

Tiara expected to launch the new Sovran 4500 at the Fort Lauderdale show.

LOA: 46 feet, 10 inches BEAM: 14 feet, 9 inches DRAFT: 3 feet, 7 inches (full load) DISPLACEMENT: unavailable HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 375 gallons fuel, 110 gallons water, 50 gallons waste POWER: undetermined TOP SPEED: undetermined BEST MILEAGE: undetermined PRICE: undetermined CONTACT: Tiara, (616) 392-7163.

Grand Banks 46 Eastbay SX

The New England-style 46SX, with a modified-vee hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt and Associates, is the first boat in the Eastbay series with the Cummins MerCruiser Diesel Zeus pod-drive propulsion system.

"The 46 is new in many ways, although the hull and deckhouse are carried over from the 45SX, which launched in 2006 as a replacement for the 43SX," says brand and marketing director David Hensel. "It has been the most popular size in the Eastbay series and has been for a while."

The Eastbay fleet also includes a 39, a 47 flybridge, a 49 and a 55.

The builder spent a lot of time reconfiguring the interior accommodations to take advantage of the smaller CMD engine room footprint, Hensel says. "You now have the option for a true three-stateroom boat with the 46SX," Hensel says. The standard layout has a galley-down design, two staterooms and a utility room. A second layout puts the galley in the helm deck's aft section, which frees space for a third stateroom, in addition to the utility room.

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Grand Banks' first pod drive boat was the 41EU in its Heritage Series, launched in late 2008. "That boat has been very well received and we've had good success working with [CMD] and the Zeus system," Hensel says. "It was a natural fit for Eastbay." Grand Banks will have the 46SX at the Fort Lauderdale and Miami shows.

LOA: 45 feet, 9 inches BEAM: 14 feet, 7 inches DRAFT: 3 feet, 4 inches DISPLACEMENT: 42,006 pounds HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 500 gallons fuel, 145 gallons water, 60 gallons waste POWER: Cummins MerCruiser QSC 8.3 (550 hp) with Zeus TOP SPEED: 31 knots BEST MILEAGE: 1.3 nmpg at 22 knots PRICE: $932,000 CONTACT: Grand Banks (206) 352-0116.

Grand Banks 53 Aleutian RP

Unlike the 46 Eastbay SX, this Grand Banks vessel is new from the keel up. The 53 Aleutian RP has the long-distance cruising capabilities of the larger vessels in the series, but in a smaller package, Hensel says. The 53 joins the 59RP, 65RP, 72RP and 72SC in the series, which was launched in 2001 with a 64-foot Tom Fexas design.

"There was a demand for an Aleutian Series raised pilothouse boat in the low-50s size and this is a completely new design," Hensel says. Designed by Earl Alfaro of Grand Banks, the 53 rides on a modified vee and, with twin 600-hp Cummins diesels, it has a range of 350 nautical miles at 13 knots. At 10 knots, its range increases to about 600 nautical miles. Grand Banks also powers the boat with twin 715-hp Caterpillar or 715-hp Cummins diesels.

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The standard main deck arrangement has a center helm station, a settee with dinette to port, a starboard-side galley and an aft saloon. The flybridge also has a center helm, along with a starboard companion seat and two other seating areas. The lower deck contains three staterooms and two heads.

The boat will be at Norwalk, Annapolis, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

LOA: 53 feet, 10 inches BEAM: 17 feet, 9 inches DRAFT: 4 feet, 9 inches (half load) DISPLACEMENT: 65,000 pounds (no load), 73,000 pounds (half load), 79,031 pounds (full load) HULL TYPE: modified-vee TANKAGE: 1,000 gallons fuel, 300 gallons water, 152 gallons waste POWER: twin Cummins QSC 8.3s (600 hp) TOP SPEED: 20 knots BEST MILEAGE: 0.7 nmpg at 16 knots PRICE: $1.6 million CONTACT: (206) 352-0116.

Island Pilot 535

Powered with twin Volvo Penta IPS II 900s (700 hp each), the Island Pilot 535 was designed to attract retiring baby boomers who want long-term cruising capability and express-type speed, says Reuben Trane, president of Island Pilot, which also builds the IP435 and the DSe Hybrid 12m (with diesel-solar-electric propulsion).

"Essentially, we're putting the accommodations of a full-displacement trawler in this very fast package," Trane says. A full galley and dinette separate the (11- by 16-foot) amidships master stateroom and the forward VIP stateroom, "providing the privacy of an aft-cabin boat," Trane says.

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The D-11 diesels will be in a walk-in, stand-up, uncluttered engine room accessed through a weather-tight door in the cockpit. There will be easy access to all sides of the engines and generator, with room left over for a workbench and tool storage. There will be joystick control at three stations - in the deckhouse, in the cockpit and on the flybridge.

The IP535 comes standard with a Seakeeper gyroscopic anti-roll stabilizer, a tender, marine electronics and entertainment devices.

The Island Pilot 535 is expected to be on display at the Miami show.

LOA: 57 feet BEAM: 16 feet, 6 inches DRAFT: 4 feet, 6 inches DISPLACEMENT: 55,000 pounds (tanks full) HULL TYPE: deep-vee TANKAGE: 600 gallons fuel, 200 gallons water, 110 gallons waste POWER: twin Volvo Penta IPS II 900s (700 hp each) TOP SPEED: 34 knots BEST MILEAGE: 0.5 nmpg at 18-28 knots PRICE: $1.5 million CONTACT: Island Pilot, (888) 443-2965.

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.