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MIAMI 2015: New-boat intros overwhelm the eyes

MIAMI — Boat companies bombarded the media and early show-goers on the first day of the Miami International Boat Show with introductions of new outboard-powered boats ranging from a $20,000 17-foot runabout to a $1.2 million 52-foot, 11-inch center console. That’s right. The center console has now surpassed the 50-foot mark.

Thursday at the show has historically been the day for new-boat introductions. And this year the number, quality and level of innovation of new boats was arguably the highest it has been since the year leading up to the Great Recession (when pod drives hit the market).

The HydraSports Custom 53’ Suenos — unveiled at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Thursday — becomes the largest known production center console in the world, said the builder, HydraSports Custom of Islamorada, Fla.

“We’ve sold 140 of the 42’ center consoles and our boat owners have asked us — with great enthusiasm — for a larger boat to move into,” Alex Leva, president of HydraSports Custom, told the crowd moments before the black cover was removed from the vessel.

With four Seven Marine 557 outboards and well-equipped, the 53’ Suenos (which means dream in Spanish) costs about $1.2 million (about $950,000 with quad Yamaha F350s). The boat also can be powered with Mercury’s newly released 350 Verados.

With the four 557s, the boat should reach an estimated top speed of 70 mph, said Kurt Bergstrom, director of engineering. HydraSports tapped Applied Marine Concepts to aid Bergstrom in the hull design. The company went to Structural Composites Inc. for the premium advanced construction that is used to build Navy Advanced Combatant Craft. The boat weighs 28,600 pounds and holds 1,000 gallons of fuel.

“Our customers wanted a boat with a little more range and reach to cross the large swells offshore,” Bergstrom said.

For inshore boating, the Nautic Global Group debuted the Rinker 170 Bowrider OB with a Yamaha F70, which was on display for $19,900. That price also includes a trailer.

“The boat is a fine entry-level boat aimed really at pulling people into boating,” said Chip Gerlach, vice president of engineering for Nautic, the owner of Rinker, PolarKraft, Godfrey and Hurricane boats. The Rinker with a 70 will top out in the low 30 mph range and do the job as a watersports tow vessel, Gerlach said. The company also debuted the Hurricane Sundeck 2486 OB, which has a nifty hidden centerline transom seat that folds into the deck, freeing up a wide path from the swim platform to the bow.

Many of the boats that were introduced featured innovative seating and storage designs. The Scout 420 LXF center console houses digital switching, batteries and other electrical components in a well-lit space under the cockpit’s secondary seating.

Scout Boats president Steve Potts proudly described the boat’s strengths during the press introduction, including Scout’s signature profile.

“We wanted this boat to be the most stunning boat on the water,” Potts said, giving much of the design credit to his son, Stevie, vice president of research and development. “These boats turn heads, and in 20 to 30 years it will still look good on the water.”

Sea Vee Boats introduced a head-turner, too, with its 270Z Bay Boat, the latest center console in the builder’s Z series of double-stepped hulls. “This boat is all about details,” said Rob Kaidy, Sea Vee vice president of engineering and chief naval architect. One of those details is the integrated toerail that surrounds the perimeter of the deck.

The boat will reach a top speed of 60 mph with a Mercury Verado 300. Anglers will have huge stern and foredeck platforms for casting and have the storage capacity of a much larger boat below each of these deck spaces, Kaidy said.

Boston Whaler followed up the introduction of its 420 Outrage center console with a new boat in its Dauntless series of dual-console day boats. The 320 Dauntless becomes the largest boat in this fleet.

“The utility of this boat is incredible, but it never sacrifices comfort,” said Jeff Vaughn, vice president of sales, marketing and customer service worldwide for the company.

Customer demand for outboard power prompted Chris-Craft to design an outboard version of its Launch 36. The display model at the show was powered by three Yamaha F300s.

The new Yellowfin Yachts 24 Carbon Elite Bay Boat can take as much as 400 hp. This lightweight high-performance carbon fiber craft made its first boat show appearance. The entire boat is built with a laminate consisting of carbon fiber, Kevlar and e-glass fabric and a second laminate layer of just carbon fiber, said Yellowfin vice president Heath Daughtry.

“We wanted to redefine the bay boat,” he said. The construction allowed the Bradenton, Fla., builder to decrease the hull and stringer weight by 25 percent, he said. The boat draws only 10 inches dry, and its estimated overall displacement is 2,400 pounds.

“To me, if a boat has a draft of 15 inches, it’s not a bay boat,” Daughtry said. The first model went out the door with a single Mercury Racing Verado 400R. Top speed should exceed 70 mph. The original 24 Bay, which debuted seven years ago, is still available. The carbon fiber construction is a $10,000 upgrade from the base price of $85,536.