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Boatbuilders at the Miami International Boat Show swung the pendulum back to more affordable, family-friendly boats
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Cobia introduced the largest model in its dual-console lineup, the 330 DC. 

Cobia introduced the largest model in its dual-console lineup, the 330 DC. 

Excess seemed to be the theme at the 2019 Miami International Boat Show, with mega-center consoles taking center stage. The largest two premieres were the 59-foot Cigarette Tirranna and its six Mercury Racing 400s, and the Scout 530 LXF with six Mercury Verado 400s — both multimillion-dollar boats.

This year, boatbuilders placed a greater emphasis on smaller fishing boats that also can serve as entertainment platforms. The Solace 345 center console — first seen at the 2019 Newport International Boat Show — continued to receive a host of accolades, including an
Innovation Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The boat’s signature design element, a “FishThru” transom, extends the cockpit between and beyond the twin outboards. Standard features include bowrider seats with full backrests and cushions held in place with magnets. A trio of Shockwave’s shock-mitigating seats is standard as well, keeping families comfortable as they zip off to the next activity.

“Attention spans are shorter, and families are more diverse in their psychographics than ever,” says John Moe, Solace’s communications manager. “You cannot just offer one activity. While they want to get away from it all, they carry a drive to remain entertained.”

Bayliner relaunched its Trophy fishing boat series with six new models, including the T22CC.

Bayliner relaunched its Trophy fishing boat series with six new models, including the T22CC.

Affordability was also a theme at MIBS. Bayliner reintroduced its Trophy fishing boat series with six new models, including the T22CC. The center console is slated to retail for $41,999 and comes standard with a galvanized trailer and a 150-hp Mercury FourStroke.

“The Trophy series will focus on the value end of the segment but will serve the emerging need in the marketplace for a crossover boat that will excel at coastal cruising while still maintaining fishing authenticity,” says Corey Duke, general manager of Brunswick Corp.’s Venture Group, which includes the Bayliner, Heyday, Quicksilver and Uttern brands.

The bow are can be filled in to create a casting platform, and with the addition of cushions, it transforms into a sunning lounge. “The coastal cruising concept is one that we continue to see emerging demand for in the market,” Duke says.

Another trend on the docks was dual consoles. In the past 18 months, Albemarle Boats launched 27- and 31-foot dual consoles. Scout expanded its Dorado dual console series with 21- and 23-footers. And this year, Cobia unveiled the 330 dual console, the new flagship of that model lineup. Its cockpit has four opposing flip-down seats that transform the stern into a social area.

“Dual consoles are coming on strong, especially with owners who previously had walkaround boats and found themselves only using the cabin for storage,” says Charlie Johnson, Cobia’s director of marketing.

Boston Whaler also displayed a midsize dual console at the show: the Vantage 280, with convertible seating and options for water sports or fishing. Other options include a retractable SureShade over the cockpit and a grill.

A Fish-Thru transom sets the Solace 345 apart from other center console designs. 

A Fish-Thru transom sets the Solace 345 apart from other center console designs. 

“The dual console is becoming more popular as boaters seek more comfort-minded amenities,” says Traci Davis, Boston Whaler’s marketing manager. “Boaters want the ultimate on-water experience, and from an entertaining standpoint, dual consoles fit the bill.”

In yet another trend, Seakeeper gave smaller boats a shot in the arm with a new gyroscopic stabilizer. Designed for boats from 23 to 30 feet and priced at less than $15,000, the Seakeeper 1 “opens up comfortable boating to a market that never had stabilization options,” says president and CEO Andrew Semprevivo, who added that future hull designs could change because of the benefits of stabilizers. “The Seakeeper, coupled with a deep deadrise, provides the best of both worlds, so yes, I do see the Seakeeper 1 opening opportunities for builders to add more deadrise to their hulls.”

Not to be overlooked as a show trend is the use of lithium-ion batteries, which are starting to appear in increasing numbers of marine applications. The Sea Ray SLX-R 400e’s Fathom e-Power system can reportedly keep the stereo and refrigerator cranking all day without a genset. The show boat had triple 4.6-liter supercharged Mercury Racing 450R 8-cylinder outboards and a 115-amp alternator to keep the batteries charged. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue.


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