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VIDEO: Center consoles: form and function with luxury

Regulator Marine recently created a seating unit specifically centered around a cockpit grill. This option, which can be added to the 34 CC or the 34 SS, came as a direct response to customer feedback, says Regulator President Joan Maxwell.

“We just had so many requests for the grilling area that it deserved its own unit,” she says.

A boater firing up a barbie on board is just one example of the changing role of today’s center console. No longer just the hard-core fishing boat of two decades ago, the center console today is being used as much for day cruising and entertaining as fishing. But the equipment and space for fishing still exists on these boats, and the functionality remains strong.

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In the September issue of Soundings, read about other ways the center console has changed. Have these boats caused other designs to lose their appeal? Some builders think so.

“We don’t see the walkaround much anymore,” says Wally Bell, owner of Composite Research, which builds Sea Born, Sundance and Spyder boats. “We don’t overnight on our fishboats much at all.”

The consoles, leaning posts and T-tops of these boats are getting bigger and packed with more comforts than the traditional walkaround provides. Some larger center consoles — 30 feet and up — come with a berth in their cavernous console/head compartments. Some have a sink and stove, even air conditioning and flat-screen televisions.

Builders are also tying all of the deck components together, forming the framework of a mini-pilothouse. Companies are starting to build the consoles with power windows — yes, like the ones in a car.

“The center console more and more is being compared to SUVs and decked-out pickup trucks,” Scout Boats president Steve Potts says. “They want form and function — luxurious form and function in many cases.”