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11 Boats that wow

More than 1,500 boats were on display at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this fall, so it was no easy task choosing what we believe were the stars of the show — the boats that Soundings readers might find interesting or want to own.

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The big boatbuilders — Boston Whaler, Sea Ray, Tiara, Pursuit and Viking, to name a few — rolled out some impressive new models. But smaller builders — such as MJM, Everglades and Regulator — also had a lot to offer. We shine the spotlight on boats from 22 to 92 feet with power ranging from 250 to 5,200 hp.

Five of our picks are outboard-powered boats, and two of those have quad power. Diesels provide the punch for five other boats, and nine of the 11 boats have joystick helm control or can be outfitted with such a system.

And talk about variety: We have four center consoles, one dual console, two trawlers, one single-­diesel pilothouse cruiser, one flybridge motoryacht, one convertible and one Down East express. We even mixed it up and included an Italian yacht, the Azimut Magellano 53 trawler.

The majority of boats in this group emphasize open topside layouts and interior living spaces. Boat companies are building larger open boats — dual consoles, center consoles and bowriders — and more cruising boats with super-sized, family-friendly flybridges.

“Boaters have always wanted it all, and flybridge designs simply give boaters more options,” says Sea Ray vice president of product development and engineering Ron Berman. “With climate­-controlled interior helms, Sea Ray’s latest designs give captains the ability to escape inclement weather or the sun, which is increasingly important to our customers. But the open flybridge preserves the ability for open-air cruising and sunning.”

Today’s boats are built with more and larger windows, portlights and hardtop hatches to maximize natural light. Saloons, galleys, helm stations and cockpits seamlessly flow as one large, open space. To use some boat company jargon, the boats promote socialization and conversation.

Boat and engine manufacturers are responding to boater feedback, delivering the basics and the latest technology. “The voices of boaters form the basis of our engineering efforts,” says Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer. “Sometimes that results in a very sophisticated product, such as our joystick products, which actually make boating easier and more enjoyable. But sometimes it also results in a comparatively simple product, such as our 150 FourStroke outboard.”

Boats like the Boston Whaler 420 can be rigged with digital switching, a technology that allows you to control all electrical components on a boat — bilge pumps, engine readouts, lighting — from one location on board, using a touch-screen multifunction display or a mobile device (see Page 34).

While integration has become the big buzzword on the docks, as our picks prove, you’re also going to hear a lot of “wows.”

Regulator 23

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Riding a deep-vee hull (24 degrees of deadrise at the transom) designed by Lou Codega, the 23 makes use of an engine bracket to increase overall deck space. There are quite a few differences between the previous version, which was discontinued in May 2013, and the new boat. Besides more room on deck, the 2014 model has an optional transom seat, a hardtop that’s 50 percent larger (almost full beam), a head compartment and a flush foredeck (no raised platform).

The boat was designed to run with a single Yamaha F300. Although the new boat is about 1,000 pounds heavier due to the bracket, hardtop and other components, it achieves the same performance as the old 23, says Codega. At nearly 30 mph (4,000 rpm) she gets 2.34 mpg. Throttle up to 4,500 rpm, and speed approaches 35 mph.

The foredeck bow seating doubles as dry storage. Port and starboard recessed rails extend from amidships to the bow. You can stow rods in a lockable foredeck compartment on centerline. The Regulator 23 has a home for beverages, as well — a 55-quart insulated cooler under the forward console seat. The stand-up console (headroom is just over 6 feet, 1 inch) houses a head. The dash has room for two 17-inch flush-mounted displays. There’s a raised live well in the transom alongside a 120-quart raised fishbox.

• LOA: 23 feet, 5 inches

• BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches

• DRAFT: 1 foot, 9 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: 6,200 pounds

• FUEL: 149 gallons

• POWER: 300-hp outboard

• SPEED: 47 mph top, 30 mph cruise

• PRICE: $86,000

• CONTACT: Regulator Marine, Edenton, North Carolina, (252) 482-3837.

Contender 22 Sport

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Contender is offering more small family-friendly center consoles, and this is its second, following the 24 Sport. The 22 supplants the 21 Open in the builder’s lineup. “We had 21- and 23-foot boats that were very popular for the tournament angler, but the pleasure boaters were not so interested,” marketing director Les Stewart Jr. says. The roomy 22 Sport boasts a custom sport console with a step-down interior that can be equipped with a head. Port and starboard bench seating in the bow conceals twin 59-gallon storage compartments, and the forward cockpit converts to a large U-shaped seating area with the addition of an insert. For fishing, the 22 has a 26-gallon elevated transom live well, four stainless steel flush-mounted rod holders, cockpit racks for six fishing rods, a 94-gallon in-deck fishbox forward, and twin 30-gallon fishboxes in the aft cockpit. The 22 Sport is the seventh entirely new Contender model introduced since 2011.

• LOA: 22 feet, 6 inches

• BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches

• DRAFT: 1 foot, 6 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: 5,250 pounds

• FUEL: 100 gallons • POWER: 300-hp outboard

• SPEED: 58 mph top, 35 mph cruise

• PRICE: $80,364

• CONTACT: Contender Boats, Homestead, Florida, (305) 230-1600.

Boston Whaler 420 Outrage

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Another must-see introduction was Boston Whaler’s 420 Outrage — the “largest, most complex and most innovative Boston Whaler ever built,” company president Huw Bower said as he stood on the foredeck of the immense center console at the show.

The first Whaler to run with quad outboards (Mercury Verado 300s), this Whaler has been highly anticipated since its announcement at the 2014 Miami show. Strengths include three helm seats and a separate leaning post directly aft to provide room for six people. The windshield extends to the hardtop, and side windows surround the helm station. The demo boat was equipped with a tower with a second helm and Raymarine’s new digital switching system. I sat in the cabin with Chris Wachowski, Boston Whaler’s director of product development, who showed me on his iPad how various electrical components can be monitored, turned on and off, and programmed. Pretty cool. “If it’s the end of the day and you want to shut off all your lights, you can program one command for the job and it will happen upon one touch of the screen,” he said.

The bow has U-shaped seating with pop-up, forward-facing seatbacks and a powered pedestal table. A cushioned bench seat at the stern flips down. The cabin has twin hull-side windows, a V-berth, a head with a shower, a settee that converts to a berth and a galley.

The 420 is the first Whaler with “Dynamic Running Surface” technology — automatically adjusting trim tabs that are integrated into the hull and have larger planes that increase control, performance and efficiency.

• LOA: 42 feet, 6 inches

• BEAM: 13 feet

• DRAFT: 41 inches (engines down)

• DISPLACEMENT: 20,000 pounds (dry, no engines)

• FUEL: 600 gallons

• POWER: quad 300-hp Mercury Verados

• SPEED: 52-54 mph top, 35 mph cruise

• CONTACT: Boston Whaler, Edgewater, Florida, (877) 294-5645.

Everglades 435cc

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The 435cc is an impressive center console that combines comforts — a cabin, flat-screen television, refrigerator, microwave, plush seating and an etched-glass partition — with the must-haves of a fishing boat, including a bait-prep station, gunwale storage, a 225-gallon fishbox, freezers and lighted live well space. It is also an unsinkable hull, the company says. The boat at the show was powered with four Yamaha F350s. “The Everglades 435 has a top speed of 59.7 mph,” says Bryan Harris, vice president of sales and marketing. “It has a 395-mile range running at a cruising speed of 38 mph and 4,000 rpm. If you left from Fort Lauderdale, you could be in the Bahamas in two hours.”

Some of the features on deck: a folding second-row bench seat in the entertainment/prep center, a patented sliding windshield with self-parking wipers and a center helm that can hold three 15-inch multifunction displays. Below, electric-actuated seating converts to a queen-size berth.

• LOA: 42 feet, 8 inches

• BEAM: 12 feet

• DRAFT: 3 feet, 2 inches (engines down)

• DISPLACEMENT: 16,880 pounds

• FUEL: 570 gallons

• POWER: quad Yamaha F350s

• SPEED: 59.7 mph top, 38 mph cruise

• PRICE: $700,000-$750,000, depending on options

• CONTACT: Everglades Boats, Edgewater, Florida, (877) 902-6287.

Marlow-Mainship 37

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One of two Down East-style yachts in our group, the Marlow-Mainship 37 is the second trawler from Marlow-Hunter LLC, the new owner of the Mainship brand. This model was introduced at the Miami boat show last February, and it grabbed top prize at this year’s Fort Lauderdale show for Best Passagemaker (30-39 feet) in the AIM Editors’ Choice Awards. Accommodations include two staterooms and two heads with showers. The master stateroom has a private head. The boat can be built with a dining area in the place of the second stateroom, says Marlow-Hunter sales director Greg Emerson. The saloon holds two large couches and a table, and the driver and companion sit at a starboard-side helm station. The cockpit is pretty much wide open, but there are seats in all four corners and a unique flip-down centerline transom door for access.

Company owner David Marlow has brought to Mainship the same construction materials and methods used to build his Marlow yachts. “We are now using the highest-quality gelcoats and resins in the marine industry, utilizing materials such as Kevlar and Nida-Core, one of the strongest support materials — designed for the space shuttle — in our hulls and decks,” Marlow says. “On the interior we are using real woods with real names; anti-bacterial gelcoat in the heads and galley; ball-bearing slides on all of our drawers; and Corian countertops.”

The 37 can be powered with a single V-8 320-hp Yanmar diesel or twin V-6 Yanmar 220s. With the single, she gets nearly 2 mpg at 18 mph and 5.4 mpg at 11 mph.

• LOA: 41 feet, 11 inches

• BEAM: 12 feet, 4 inches

• DRAFT: 2 feet, 8 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: 16,000 pounds

• FUEL: 320 gallons

• POWER: single 320-hp Yanmar

• SPEED: 23 mph top, 16-21 mph cruise

• PRICE: $359,900 CONTACT: Marlow-Hunter LLC, Alachua, Florida, (800) 771-5556.

Sea Ray L590 Fly

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Sea Ray rolled out six boats at the show, but the L590 Fly grabbed the spotlight during a festive gala the builder hosted. Sea Ray president Tim Schiek says the L650 Fly — introduced at Miami 2014 — and the L590 Fly are the best boats the company has ever built. Period. Both are part of Sea Ray’s L-Class motoryachts, which include a three-year bow-to-stern warranty, a concierge-guided buying experience with personalized delivery and 24-hour customer service throughout North America.

Emphasis was on making the layout and living arrangement open to promote socialization. “A series of strategic design choices ensures seamless transitions and an abundance of natural light throughout the interior,” says vice president of product engineering Ron Berman. “The galley and the [saloon] connect with the cockpit beneath a long stretch of glass, melding these areas into an expansive, uniquely social zone. Large windows bring in even more light and give passengers a great view of their outdoor surroundings.”

Living accommodations include a large master suite with a private head, two additional staterooms and a well-appointed guest head, all on the lower level. The flybridge covers about two-thirds of the boat’s length, creating plenty of seating and sunning space while offering weather protection over the cockpit. Triple 600-hp Cummins diesels with Zeus pod drives power the L590 Fly.

• LOA: 58 feet, 10 inches

• BEAM: 16 feet

• DRAFT: 57 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: unavailable

• FUEL: 1,050 gallons

• POWER: triple Cummins QSC 8.3 diesels and Zeus pods

• SPEED: 35 mph top, 30 mph cruise

• CONTACT: Sea Ray, Knoxville, Tennessee, (865) 522-4181.

Pursuit DC 325

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The largest of three dual consoles Pursuit offers, the DC 325’s highlights include wraparound bow seating, consoles for a head and a lounge/storage area, and weather protection, along with an entertainment center with an optional electric grill.

“It has tremendous openness from the bow to the stern, and if you need to duck out of the sun or rain you have a full windshield that is integrated with the hardtop,” says David Glenn, marketing director for S2 Yachts, the parent company of Pursuit Boats.

Glenn says the hull’s sharp entry, 32-foot length and “perfectly matched” beam give a comfortable ride. “It’s just great in any kind of sea condition,” he says. The easy-to-operate console doors stand out as an example of innovative design, in addition to the fully integrated hardtop and extended port and starboard transom wings, says Glenn. The head sits in the starboard console, while a berth that converts to a lounge seat and storage are housed in the port console. There’s an L-shaped lounge opposite the double-wide helm seat, as well as cockpit seating.

With twin Yamaha F300s, the boat tops out at more than 50 mph. At 34 mph, the DC 325 gets 1.4 mpg, for a range of about 370 miles.

The builder also introduced the OS 325 Offshore, which uses the same hull as its dual-console cousin. The Offshore model has a full cabin (instead of an open bow like the DC) and a hardtop with a large, clear windshield similar to those on S2’s Pursuit SC 365i Sport Coupe and Tiara 50 Coupe and 44 Coupe. At 35 mph, the OS 325 with the same engines gets about 1.2 mpg.

The 44 Coupe and the Tiara 50 Fly also made their debuts in Fort Lauderdale.

• LOA: 34 feet, 6 inches

• BEAM: 10 feet, 10 inches

• DRAFT: 1 foot, 10 inches (engines up)

• FUEL: 300 gallons

• DEADRISE: 20 degrees

• POWER: twin Yamaha F300s

• SPEED: 51 mph top, 39 mph cruise

• PRICE: $256,645 (with F300s)

• CONTACT: Pursuit Boats, Fort Pierce, Florida, (772) 465-6006.

Viking 92

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The introduction of the 92 Convertible, Viking’s largest boat ever, added an exclamation point to the builder’s 50th anniversary celebration. “It’s a proud moment for the Viking Yacht Co.,” Patrick Healey, executive vice president, said during the yacht’s introduction at the show. “Nothing has ever been done like the 92.”

Viking says it is the largest sportfish ever built in the United States entirely with resin infusion. The materials and methods in the build equate to an efficiently constructed, stronger and lighter boat. Strong points for the 92 include a climate-controlled enclosed flybridge, custom tuna tower and six staterooms, each with its own head. Twin 2,600-hp MTUs power the $10.5 million yacht to a top speed of 36 knots and a cruise speed of 32 knots.

The company also debuted the 75 Motor Yacht and the 52 Sport Tower at the show. Viking has introduced 15 new models in the past six years, Healey says. It wants to fully develop its motoryacht line as well as concentrate on its other models.

• LOA: 98 feet, 7 inches

• BEAM: 23 feet, 5 inches

• HULL DRAFT: 5 feet, 11 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: 103 tons

• FUEL: 3,410 gallons

• SPEED: 34 knots top, 30 knots cruise

• POWER: twin 2,600-hp MTUs

• CONTACT: Viking Yacht Co., New Gretna, New Jersey, (609) 296-6000.

Ranger R-29

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The single-diesel R-29 has the amenities of a larger boat, including two staterooms, a fully equipped galley and a head with shower. Large windows and five opening skylight hatches provide natural light and ventilation. A pilothouse door gives you quick access to the foredeck, and a molded-in cabinet in the cockpit holds refreshments and additional storage. Like the other boats in the Ranger fleet (21, 25, 27 and 31 feet), the R-29 features innovative seating and storage, such as a companion seat that can be converted to an aft-facing dinette settee and a helm chair that folds forward and out of the way to free up counter space. I like the clever fore/aft sliding console armrest that clears access to the starboard pilothouse door when pushed back. Bow and stern thrusters and a windlass are standard, along with a hardtop “sport” rack to store bikes or a kayak.

Options include a diesel generator, enhanced navigation electronics package, autopilot, air conditioning and a solar panel. The boat can be trailered, which is one of its selling points.

• LOA: 29 feet

• BEAM: 10 feet

• DRAFT: 2 feet, 4 inches

• DISPLACEMENT: 9,250 pounds

• FUEL: 150 gallons

• POWER: 260-hp Volvo Penta D6

• SPEED: 24 knots top, 17 knots cruise

• PRICE: $229,937

• CONTACT: Ranger Tugs, Kent, Washington, (253) 839-5213.

MJM 50z

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The 50z has been turning heads since her debut at the Newport boat show in September. She’s the flagship of a fleet consisting of the 40z, 36z, 34z and 29z, all penned by Marblehead, Massachusetts, designer Doug Zurn. The new boat comes standard with a Seakeeper gyro-stabilizer system. She can be powered with triple Volvo Penta IPS600 pods or triple 370-hp Yanmar diesel sterndrives.

The boat’s 360-degree visibility, single-level deck and joystick helm control make it easily operated by two people, says Bob Johnstone, founder and CEO of MJM Yachts.

Johnstone understands the importance of social, open spaces in the saloon, but the staterooms must also be full-featured, he says. The yacht has two “24/7 daytime livable staterooms for liveaboard cruising,” he says. The master cabin comes with a desk/dressing table, easy chair, en-suite head/shower and large portlights. The 50z can sleep as many as seven by including a double and single on the bridge deck when enclosed by privacy curtains, says Johnstone.

“The design of the yacht’s main deck, in terms of visibility and fresh-air flow, retains the preferred upper flush-deck all-weather flybridge of a 65-foot motoryacht,” he says.

Boston BoatWorks builds the MJM boats at the Charlestown Maritime Center using prepreg epoxy, Kevlar, E-glass and Core-Cell. The design and build center around achieving an excellent strength-to-weight ratio for fuel efficiency, but the design also delivers a comfortable, dry ride, according to Zurn.

• LOA: 55 feet, 4 inches

• BEAM: 15 feet

• DRAFT: 3 feet (twin IPS); 3 feet, 10 inches (triple IPS or sterndrives)

• POWER: twin or triple IPS600s (435 hp), triple Yanmar 8LV 370-hp sterndrives

• SPEED: 40 knots top, 35 knots cruise (triple IPS600s); 33 knots top, 29 knots cruise (twin IPS600s)

• BASE PRICE: $1.7 million (twin IPS600s), $1.86 million (triple IPS600s)

• CONTACT: MJM Yachts, Boston, (401) 862-4367.

Azimut Magellano 53

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When you think of Azimut, semidisplacement trawlers probably don’t come to mind, but the Magellano 53 — a 16-knot long-distance cruiser with design influences from its home in Italy — is going to change that.

The Magellano 53 replaces the Magellano 50. The new boat is about 3 feet longer than the Magellano 50, allowing designers to create a relatively large stern crew cabin with a large aft window. The hydraulic platform can handle a waterjet tender up to about 10 feet.

The builder points out that one of the unique features of all the Magellanos is that all deck furniture is at half height, allowing an unimpeded view of the water and letting light and air flow into all spaces. Like many of today’s crusiers, the galley is positioned aft in the saloon for easy access to the cockpit. On the lower deck are three staterooms and room for a pantry. A master stateroom amidships with head and separate shower and two additional staterooms provide comfortable accommodations. There is a second head, too, as well as space for a washer-dryer and storage with shelves set under the stairs. (MarineMax is the U.S. dealer for Azimut.)

• LOA: 54 feet, 9 inches

• BEAM: 15 feet, 1 inch


• FUEL: 845 gallons • POWER: twin 500-hp Cummins QSC 8.3 diesels

• SPEED: 21 knots top, 16 knots cruise

• PRICE: $1.485 million

• CONTACT: Azimut Yachts, Avigliana, Italy.

January 2015 issue