Captain's Report by Capt. John--
Mission Statement for the Cruisers Sports Series Brand
From a business standpoint the mission of the ten-boat Cruisers Sport Series line is to acquaint younger boaters with KCS's big boats down the line. When these owners are ready to graduate up to the cruising lifestyle they will be on a first name basis with the dealers, management, and products of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Yachts. Obviously that is a long-term business strategy, but it is one that augurs well for the consumer. Which brings us to the second part of the KCS mission statement…From a tactical standpoint the mission of the Cruisers Sports Series line is to impress beginning boaters with the quality and functionality of KCS boats as well as to acquaint consumers with KCS' customer-friendly culture.
Mission Statement for the 278 Bow Rider
The 278 Bow Rider is designed to be a luxurious, extremely comfortable bowrider that can be used in both freshwater and saltwater for all sorts of watersports activities. By creating a relatively high freeboard and deep cockpit the boat should be dry and little ones will be more secure. By outfitting the boat with upscale amenities, she should appeal to those boaters that one day may be ready to move into a classy express, such as the Cruisers Yachts 310 or Rampage 34. With a 22-degree deadrise and weighing in at 5,380 lbs. (2,440 kgs.) dry, the 278 Bow Rider should be one of the best riding boats on the market in choppy conditions at speed. By keeping the base MSRP down and providing an extensive option list, customers will be able to create a boat for their specific purpose, rather than get a boat where one-size-fits-all.
Five Standard Hull Color Choices
-- Most builders still charge extra for colored hull gel coat. We think that colored hulls add immeasurably to enhancing the pride of ownership as well as to set the boat apart from the pack at the marina and on the used boat market when that time comes.
-- In our book, this is a biggie. While some other sportboats also have self-draining cockpits, many do not. We have seen too many boats sink at the dock after a prolonged hard rain as a result of a battery drained dead by a bilge pump.
Unusual Swim Platform Design
-- The swim platform on the 278 Bow Rider is tapered inward at a 30-degree angle from the side of the boat which keeps the stern from hitting the dock when casting off going forward. It is also raised so that it doesn't drag when getting under way or when making a tight turn. The swim ladder has four steps and there is special "activity" lighting on the platform which looks cool at night.
Halogen Bow Docking Lights
-- Coming home late can be problematical on a moon-less night. The builder has thought of that and made the lights standard on the 278.
Two Bilge Pumps
-- Most sportboats have one, the 278 Bow Rider has two. One amidships rated at 750 gph and the other in the stern with a 1,100 gph capacity.
Plush, Thick Seat Cushions
-- One of the first things that stands out when seeing the 278 Bow Rider is the plush seating. We equate them to what one might find in an expensive automobile vs. those found on an economy model.
Standard Bimini and Canvas Covers
-- All boats should have these no matter what the activity and they are standard on the 278.
Stylistic Molded-in Highlight in the Hull
-- When a boat that is supposed to be fast and sleek also has a deep cockpit, therefore a higher freeboard, designers need to work extra hard to create the optical illusion that the freeboard is low. Here the builder has gone farther than most builders by molding in a gentle crease in the hull side from bow to stern which catches the light and makes it look as if there is another cove stripe on the hull side. The overall effect is to make her appear lower to the water than she really is.
-- At 6,150 lbs. (2,795 kgs.) the 278 Bow Rider has the greatest displacement in class. This together with a 22-degree deadrise at the transom makes this boat what should be one of the most comfortable riding boats in class.
The Big Picture
This is a pretty picture, indeed. The folks in Oconto, Wisconsin (KCS International) have put their experienced yacht building team to work at revisiting every aspect of the Cruisers Sport Series lineup. The results look good so far. They tell me that the tooling was renovated, and it shows in the beautiful gel coat work. Attractive color combinations are very appealing, and that goes for the upholstery in the cockpit as well as the deck and topsides finish work.
The test model was matched with a catalyzed 377 Magnum from MerCruiser, which delivered 320-hp. The standard package includes a 300-hp Volvo Penta V8. Engine options from MerCruiser and Volvo range from 300 on up to 430-hp, so there should be something for everyone’s taste. Additional engineering improvements include better cockpit drainage and engine ventilation, changing motor mounts to metal from wood, and updating the fuel system to comply with ABYC and EPA Standards. The effort towards a “job well done” was evident to me in both the attitude of the engineering staff, the quality control department, and the finished product.
The forward cockpit offers comfortable seating, and I could stretch my 35-inch inseam legs out without feeling cramped. A forward beach ladder, drink holders, safety rails, and an optional table are some of the details added for creature comfort.
For those who are going to be using the boat primarily for a sunning and beach-visiting platform, there are two optional filler cushions ($835) for the bow. Additionally, sun worshipers will like the sun pad on the stern which has a three-position back rest.
A sturdy walkthrough windshield (with magnet holding the window open) leads to the helm and main seating area. To port is a compartment suitable for a head. Buyers have the choice of a Porta-Potti ($285) or an electric toilet ($2,020), so the family can be relieved….
There is an optional bow windscreen door ($420), which I recommend because on a crisp, cool morning it will help keep the cockpit cozy.
Below the deck are storage lockers for water toys, and there’s storage available under the seats; fore and aft.Behind the helm and companion bucket seats is a huge U-shaped wraparound seat surrounding the cockpit. This is one of the largest seating areas I have ever seen on a sportboat in class. Folks who like to entertain aboard will go for the optional cockpit table ($565). There’s a cooler tucked under one of the seats in a specially-designed keeper compartment.
On the centerline, aft, is one of the features that adds utility-- the convertible sun lounger. Use it facing forward for running or socializing. Flip it facing aft when on the hook and playing in the water or relaxing on the swim platform. It can also be folded fully forward, where it serves as a comfortable sun pad.
A small gate leads to the swim platform; and the deck design provides for a smooth transition in and out of the cockpit. The builder has done a particularly clever job of designing this passageway. When underway, a filler cushion fits into the passageway to form the U-shaped conversation pit. The transom gate is padded and serves as a backrest and fits in well with the rest of the cockpit.
Not just a bolt-on type, the swim platform is the result of a well-considered design process. It’s higher off the water than most, so it doesn’t drag underway, and it extends completely over the outdrive unit for safety. The height also makes for an easier step on and off the floating dock. But the most striking feature is the tapered shape of the aft, outboard corners. These corners often get pretty banged up over time; typically a trouble spot when leaving the dock. By trimming away the corners, some platform area is lost but it makes it easier to avoid clipping the dock when getting underway. In the end, I like what I see.
Performance and Handling
Our test boat was powered by a single 320-hp Mercury 377 MAG engine driving a Bravo III lower unit. With 25 gallons of fuel aboard, two men, and 50 pounds of gear we had a test weight of 6,720 lbs. (3,054 kgs.) At 5200 rpm our WOT speed was 49.3 mph. Best cruise was at 3000 rpm where we were going 23.7 mph burning 8.25 gph for a range of 176 statute miles. By giving up just 6 miles on a load of fuel, the boat will go 29.9 mph at 3500 rpm and burn 10.75 gph. I suspect most people will cruise there. We jumped up on a plane in 5.4 seconds and we reached 30 in 8.7 seconds.
I liked the ride the 278 provided when I tested her. When testing I moved around the boat to experience the 278 from both the helm seat and from the aft bench seat. Both offered comfort, security, and stability. I never felt like I was being thrown around -- the ride was solid and smooth just as I would expect in a boat with this displacement and bottom shape. Steering was smooth and true, and the noise level was mostly wind.
The 278 Bow Rider is one of four bowrider models in the newly re-vitalized Cruisers Sport Series. The other models include three sport deck models, two cuddies and one pocket cruiser. Assuming that the builder can maintain its high standards for quality control in the rest of the Cruisers Sport Series, I’d bet that this newest member of the Cruisers/Rampage family will deliver on the new KCS mission.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider (2013-) is 49.3 mph (79.3 kph), burning 25.25 gallons per hour (gph) or 95.57 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider (2013-) is 23.7 mph (38.1 kph), and the boat gets 2.87 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.22 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 176 miles (283.24 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 320-hp MerCruiser 377 MAG.
Standard and Optional Features