Captain's ReportSimply OutstandingBy Vince Daniello, Test CaptainKeep it simple, the old adage has surely been used regarding every conceivable design, device, mechanism, procedure, protocol, or apparatus from the first wheeled vehicle to the latest in space travel. It is also an adage Baja follows, electing to sacrifice a few tenths or hundredths of a knot of top end speed they might gain with stepped hulls, giant trim tabs, wedges, widgets, and assorted doohickeys many other performance boats use. But what they may lose in theoretical performance, in ideal conditions, with everything tweaked out by micrometer, adjusted for windage, compensated for water salinity, and in step with the alignment of the sun and moon, they make up for with one simple operating procedure: Push the throttle forward to go really fast, pull it back a little to slow down a bit. I don’t mean to say Baja’s boats are “simple” as in “unremarkable,” but rather that the company chooses design parameters that keep the boat simple to operate. They also give their boats a simple, unencumbered look, and make them simple to maintain.Design & PerformaceSo what is the big gain in performance from all the complexities and contemplations of other builders? Judging by the Outlaw 26, not much. Our test boat topped out at 66.2 miles-per-hour, impressive from the 425 horsepower MerCruiser 496 Mag HO. Not fast enough for you? When Baja revamped their 25 Outlaw to create this 26, they added enough room to the engine space for a 600 horsepower engine (The 25 could only fit 525 horsepower.) While they were changing things, Baja re-engineered the hull and stringer system, adding Kevlar and carbon fiber, so the new 26 only weighs about 50 pounds more than the 25 it replaces, and they tweaked the hull design a bit too, which might explain why the 26 is over a half-knot faster than the 25 we tested previously with the same power. More horsepower in roughly the same weight, with a faster hull: This new 26 should be, quite simply, a rocket ship.Increased SpeedThis increase in speed from the same horsepower highlights an important point. Baja goes through whatever complexities are necessary to make their designs better, they just forgo using “tricks” to make their boats faster. For example, many manufacturers reduce drag, and therefore increase speed, by incorporating one or more “steps” or notches cut at an angle across the bottom of the hull. As the boat reaches a certain speed, these steps draw air down beneath the boat, which breaks the suction of the hull in the water, and significantly reduces drag. This principle was first developed by Glenn Curtiss in 1912 as a way to make his seaplane design lift free of the water sooner. Steps are undeniably effective, but the double-edged sword is that stepped hulls quickly lose friction as they accelerate past a certain speed, a function of the design of the step plus sea conditions, and then quickly gain it back as they decelerate below that certain speed. This can lead to boats that either want to break free and run at forty miles-per-hour, or suck down and run at fourteen, but are difficult to operate between.Deep-V HullBaja avoids this problem with a “simple” 24 degree Deep-V hull, which I found to be very predictable at slower speeds. 24 degrees is also a pretty steep Vee, which again sacrifices a bit of top-end speed over a flatter-bottomed hull, but the deeper Vee cuts through choppy water better. So once again, Baja chose a design that might not look as impressive in theoretical top-end performance, but will run better in real conditions. Baja StyleAnother place Baja chooses simplicity is in their unique look, with very clean, stark lines. To keep this simple look hardware is hidden, like the stainless steel pull-up cleats, or powder-coated white to blend with the hull, such as the white handrail and large opening hatches on the foredeck. Appendages like the windshield are purposefully understated. But this stern look of the Outlaw is balanced with bold graphics, molded into the gelcoat rather than simply applied vinyl decals or paint seen on some boats. This makes Baja’s hulls more difficult to build, but less prone to scratches and fading, and therefore simpler to maintain.In fact, Baja forgoes many simple solutions when building their boats. For example, they choose to finish the inside of storage compartments in smooth gelcoat, and add useful touches like plenty of stainless steel handrails and drinkholders. One thing I would have preferred though is a cooler, perhaps built into the bench seat in the cockpit.Baja says their 26 Outlaw offers more: “more speed, more style, more comfort.” But what they also offer is less: a less cluttered look, a less temperamental hull design, and less to worry about maintaining.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Baja 26 Outlaw (2007-) is 66.2 mph (106.5 kph), burning 34.8 gallons per hour (gph) or 131.72 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Baja 26 Outlaw (2007-) is 32.2 mph (51.8 kph), and the boat gets 3.20 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.36 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 291 miles (468.32 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag HO (sterndrive).
Standard and Optional Features
|CD Stereo||Standard Clarion|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
|Cockpit Cover||Optional Sunbrella|
5-year Limited Warranty
Yes - Limited
||5-year Limited Warranty http://www.bajamarine.com/index.asp?display=ownerswarranty&tab=4&|
3-Year Limited Warranty
||3-Year Limited Warranty http://www.bajamarine.com/index.asp?display=ownerswarranty&tab=4&|
|NMMA Certification Other Certification||Yes IQ Certified|