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MIAMI: New-boat introductions up sharply

MIAMI - They just kept coming. One after the other, boatbuilders held press conferences Thursday introducing their vessels. It was quite a change from the last few years in which new-boat announcements were scarce or most of the boats being introduced were current hulls with deck, cabin or helm design changes.

And a noticeable increase in members of the media attended the announcements, which were held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. I had to bob and weave my way through the crowds to get close to the speaker.

First up was Grady-White, with its Freedom 335 dual console powered with twin Yamaha F350s. It's the largest dual console I know of. “Look at this cockpit — huge and uncluttered — it rivals any center console,” Grady-White vice president of engineering David Neese said in his introduction, standing in the cockpit of the 335, which has a centerline length of 36 feet, 6 inches, and a beam of 11 feet, 7 inches.

“But what really sets this boat apart is the amount of amenities we've put in this boat that allow you to have fun in the sun — or the shade!” Neese said as another Grady representative pushed a button that dispatched an aft deck shade to cover the entire cockpit. “I don't know if anyone is timing this, but in about 15 or 20 seconds we've turned a great fishing boat into a phenomenal cruising boat.”

It was actually 35 seconds. I did time it.

Next up was Tiara chief executive David Slikkers’ unveiling of the Tiara 3600 Coronet. The boat has “all the hallmarks of a Tiara — true diamond nonskid, wide, safe walkways, full composite windshield, easy tilt-away helm for standing and sitting and composite fuel tanks,” Slikkers told attendees. A Galati Yachts representative, Jennifer Galati, christened the vessel, smashing a bottle of champagne on the rubrail while standing with Slikkers on the foredeck.

It wasn't just the large production builders that had news to shout about. For example, Statement Marine told us about the 368 SUV — a high-performance craft with family boating attributes. “It is a crossover boat, so it can be a ridiculous hardcore fishing boat to a luxurious family boat. This is for the gentleman's family,” company founder Todd Werner said as I stood on the boat with him. He was speaking about the boat's owner. “We're not the only ones doing this, but we are taking [the luxury] to the next level.”

The boat ranges from $325,000 to $350,000 with triple 300-hp Verados. And company founder Werner told me about his air-cushion technology, which significantly softens the ride of two of his 42-foot models (one of which I had a chance to drive during the Fort Lauderdale show. It flat-out works.)

The Horizon 260 and V275 sport cruiser are new boats from Four Winns.

“With the 260 you will start to recognize the common looks and design traits in our redesigned Four Winns line,” said Roch Lambert, group president of Rec Boat Holdings, owner of Four Winns, Wellcraft and Glastron. “It’s important that people recognize our boats from a distance.”

Sea Ray vice president of marketing Rob Noyes had plenty to talk about during his 11 a.m. announcement, including the introduction of the Sea Ray 230 SLX bowrider, which was equipped with Sea Ray's new Active Trim Control, which manipulates running attitude and wake wave height for water skiing and wakeboarding. Power options range from 260- to 300-hp MerCruiser sterndrives.

The 230 follows the 210 SLX, which debuted in Fort Lauderdale. But Noyes spent the most time talking about Sea Ray's Quiet Ride technology, “the proprietary combination of acoustical forensic, engineering and sound-attenuation materials,” an innovation the manufacturer has worked on for four years. Noyes used a hammer and then two golf balls — you read it right, a hammer and two golf balls — to illustrate the sound and vibration improvements that the Quiet Ride materials bring to a boat.

Chris-Craft pulled the cover off its new Launch 32 and Corsair 36. “Our customers have been asking for the 32 launch for several years, but with the downturn the time was not right,” Chris-Craft president Steve Heese said. “The 36 is probably our most successful boat ever, and we've redone it.”

The Launch 32 is powered with twin Volvo Penta sterndrives with joystick steering. The new Corsair 36, powered by twin Volvo Penta 8.1-liter sterndrives, tops out at 48 mph with a cruise of 28 mph. This Corsair uses the same hull design as the previous Corsair 36, but has a completely new deck layout, Heese said. The Launch 32 is new from the keel up. It has an LOA of 34 feet, 3 inches, with a beam of 10 feet and a deadrise at the transom of 20 degrees. Both boats have open bows.

Not only is the 25 Bay a new boat for Contender, it's also the builder’s first bay boat. The company is known for its rugged offshore center console fishing platforms. “I would say we will have other bay boat models in the future,” said Les Stewart Jr., Contender’s marketing director. “We're excited. It's a new market for us.”

Boston Whaler, like Sea Ray, has recently stepped up its product development. Ron Berman, vice president of product development and engineering, had five boats to talk about with another healthy crowd of media members in the builder's display area. He introduced five boats — the 210 Montauk, 285 Conquest, 85 Conquest Pilothouse, the 315 Conquest and the 170 Dauntless. The latter two boats were being introduced for the first time. The Montauk and 285 models made their official debuts in Fort Lauderdale.

There were a few other new-boat events that I didn't make it to: Slikkers was at it again, this time introducing the C 260 from Pursuit, the sister company to Tiara under the umbrella of S2 Yachts.

Over at the Yacht & Brokerage Show, Monte Carlo Yachts held the world premiere of its MCY 76 with ZF 4000 pods.

— Chris Landry



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