Conventional wisdom said sterndrive-powered fishing boats were deader than a dockside tuna. Outboard innovations in the past decade gave the industry the ability to power giant center console fishing boats like the 65-foot HCB Estrella, so there was no looking back, right?
Not so fast.
Sōlace Boats made a splash in 2019 with its 345, which had a stern fishing pulpit between twin mega-outboards. But for 2022, the stern on the brand’s latest boat has the look of a backyard deck with nary an outboard in sight. The new Sōlace 415CS at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was powered by twin Volvo Penta D6-DPI diesels mated to Aquamatic DuoProp sterndrives.
According to Todd Albrecht, president of Sōlace, the 415CS came about in part because Volvo Penta’s team thought the center console market was missing out on the technology. Thus, a collaboration was born that created something entirely new to the industry.
All that space in the stern means the 415CS has room for a multiposition lounger that makes good use of the double-wide engine doghouse. The swim platform sits lower to the water and has more square footage than a Tokyo apartment. For those who are into offshore fishing and entertaining, this center console has few rivals for boats its size.
Volvo Penta’s D6-DPI diesel maximizes acceleration with supercharging, which provides an immediate kick, along with turbocharging to keep the acceleration going while allowing the 5.5L inline 6-cylinder block to produce 440 hp. That amount of horsepower is lower than outboards like Yamaha’s 425-hp XTO Offshore V-8 5.6L and Mercury’s 600-hp V-12 Verado; during a recent Sōlace comparison between a triple Yamaha XTO Offshore-powered model and the sterndrive model, the result was 1,275 hp vs. 880 hp, with the Yamaha-powered model reaching 58 knots. Albrecht says the Volvo Penta-powered model can reach 44 knots.
The outboard-powered 41 CS can also handle quad Mercury Racing 450Rs or triple Mercury V-12 600s, so if speed is the top priority, outboards are a no-brainer. But as offshore anglers will attest, the sea state often dictates how fast a boat can go.
Improved speed is one reason outboard fishing boats have been supplanting diesel-powered sportfishing models and the relative inefficiency of the straight-inboard design. Volvo Penta’s Aquamatic sterndrive comes closer to leveling that playing field since it provides the same forward directional thrust. It can also be trimmed out like an outboard to lift the bow and reduce the wetted surface of the dual-vented hulls on both versions of the 41-foot Sōlace, which has 23 degrees of deadrise at the transom.
If the name Aquamatic sounds familiar, it’s because Volvo Penta has used it since it invented the sterndrive back 1959. One of the most impressive features of the newest iteration is smooth and quiet shifting. Thanks to an embedded hydraulic clutch, there’s an even quieter engagement than with the Yamaha Shift Dampener System. To harness the low-end torque of diesels when maneuvering dockside, the Aquamatic’s Low-Speed Mode reduces idle speed by half and is adjustable for slow-trolling speeds.
Where Volvo Penta Diesels Shine
While outboard-powered fishing boats have a speed advantage, the 415 CS is ideal for the angler who wants to go to the
Bahamas, fish all week and then head back to Florida without refueling. According to Volvo Penta tests, the Sōlace’s diesels burn 33 gph at 35 knots, a figure that works out to an impressive 1.21 mpg.
According to the same data set, the Yamaha-powered 415 CS consumes 57 gph at the same speed, which translates to 0.7 mpg. The outboard-powered model has a 525-gallon fuel tank, while the diesel sterndrive boat has a 444-gallon tank, so the actual range difference between the two boats is close. Also, comparing the weight of the two Volvo Penta diesel sterndrives — which have cast iron heads and blocks, and weigh 1,742 pounds each — to three Yamahas, which weigh 977 pounds each, along with a full load of fuel, the total weight of the diesel boat is 332 pounds more.
The 415 CS represents the first U.S. appearance of the Volvo Penta Aquamatic D6-DPI diesel combination on a recreational boat, but it’s no throwback to earlier times. The system uses a host of user-friendly technological advances to give the driver control. They include Electronic Vessel Control, which integrates Volvo Penta’s Joystick Docking, Dynamic Positioning System and Glass Cockpit to put the entire boat’s systems at the touch of a finger. The 415 CS also incorporates Volvo Penta interceptors with active ride control, and an automatic trim and list system.
This boat could be a good choice for anglers operating charters, or for cruisers and fishermen looking for more range. Albrecht says the 415 CS may also be popular as a superyacht tender.
“By having a diesel-powered tender, it eliminates the need to carry two different fuels on board, and the tender can fuel directly from the mothership’s diesel tanks,” Albrecht says. “It may also reduce insurance costs for the yacht’s owner.”
This article was originally published in the January 2022 issue.