Capt. Steve’s Report...
Tournament fishing is not for the timid. It’s a race to the fishing spot to stake your claim, fish as long as you can, then race back before the weigh-in. In between, you might be racing to several other spots of opportunity that could be at opposite ends of the lake. A boat that brings speed to the table can add another 10 casts to the day, and maybe even 20 or 30 depending on distances and boat speed. Speed can make the difference between winning and losing a boat-load of money. On the other hand too much horsepower on a boat can be dangerous, or just down-right wasteful when it only adds three or four miles per hour to the boat.
Engine choices for the Triton 21HP Elite DC range from 200-300-hp. Happily, the folks at Triton had seen fit to present me with a 21HP powered with a 250-HP Mercury OptiMax Pro XS. Middle of the road in power is where I like to do my reporting, and then you, the reader, have the opportunity to add or subtract from my numbers accordingly to get a ballpark idea of how the boat will perform with more or less horsepower. A rule of thumb used by the engine makers is 7-hp equals 1 mph. That means an extra 50-hp might deliver around 7 more miles per hour. Obviously, the size design, weight and other factors will affect this “rule of thumb,” but at least it gives you a starting point. Check around among our engine tests of more and less horsepower on similar boats to get an even better fix on how added hp will effect performance.I was impressed that Triton selected the 250-hp engine for my test boat rather than one powered by a 300-hp Verado, which would obviously max out the boat’s speed. In this way with one test they could give consumers a good idea of how the boat would perform with either a 300-hp or a 200-hp engine.
Loading the Boat Up
The performance of all small boats is very weight sensitive. Builders know that, of course, and not surprisingly many provide boats with, say, as little as a quarter of a fuel load for testing. That is why before reading a performance table you need to look at the conditions of the test, the number of people aboard, fuel load, etc. With this little caveat of testing gamesmanship in mind, as the Triton folks took the 21HP over to the fuel dock to prepare the boat for my performance runs, I made mental note to see how they were going to load the boat for the test – light, half-load, or heavy.Would they put in 5, maybe 10 gallons (37.8 L)… tops? I watched the pump continue past 5, then 10, then 20 came and went, 30… 40… finally a gurgling sound could be heard indicating a full tank -- at 54 gallons (204.4L). Okay, if there was ever a case of real world numbers, this will be it. Another favorable impression for Triton, and I hadn’t yet set foot on the boat.
So how did she do? Not too shabbily as a matter of fact. Starting with an empty weight of 1,840 lbs (834.6 kg) we added 505 lbs (229 kg) for the engine, a full tank of gas, two people, and our test gear to give us a test weight of 3,044 lbs (1,380.7 kg). So let’s put those 250-horses to work. Dropping the engine control into gear and stomping my foot down on the hot-foot gas pedal, we launched off across the lake and I watched the speed climb and the water start to blur. I backed off the pedal and started to lift the trim lever mounted to the right side of the steering column and felt the expected push of additional thrust in the small of my back. Then I put the pedal to the stops.
At 60-62 mph (96-100 kph) the expected chine walk started to kick in. Steering through it and continuing to accelerate up to the max of 5800 rpm’s the radar gun showed a max of 77.2 mph (124.2 kph). As I said, not too shabby, but then, the wind was at our backs. I ran a duplicate run into the 5 mph (8 kph) wind and recorded 77-mph-even (124 kph). That averages out to be 77.1 mph (124.1). Now we don’t normally report fuel burn at top speeds in our written reports (only in the performance tables), but in a tournament, those fishing holes can be a long way away and it is a race.... so at max speed, the Triton 21HP had a fuel burn of 23.1 GPH which means a range of 162 miles at top speed. Her time to reach planing speed was only 3.2 seconds, and she accelerated to 30 mph in 7.1 seconds.
The Triton 21HP comes in two flavors, single console and dual console. We tested the dual console (DC) and neither windscreen really did a stellar job of diverting the 77 mph slipstream , but they usually don’t. It is still nice to have the second console, as there is a comfort level in having something in front of you to hold on to, as well as the additional storage.At the bow, the 21HP Elite DC comes pre-wired for plug-n-play application of one of the 15 offered trolling motors. The foot control rests in a recessed section of the bow. Next to the trolling motor is a console that has controls for the engine trim and a console for up to an 8” (20.3 cm) display fish finder. Two bow-pedestal bases will ensure that your foot is able to reach the foot control. Large rod storage lockers lie to either side, with rod straps on top for even more storage. Three across seating is at the cockpit, with the center seat folding down to become a step for access to and from the aft casting deck. For storage, there is a 300-qt. forward storage box, 168-qt. storage aft, a 44.5 gal. (169.1 L) livewell, and an 84-qt. baitwell. Additional rods store in a strap-down adjacent to the portside seat. The helm of our test boat featured Mercury Networked SmartCraft gauges and a center mounted Lowrance HDS 10” multi-function display.
Fit and Finish
I like Triton’s style of fit and finish. I looked for defects in the gel coat and found none. Carpeting was curved perfectly around the edges of lids and hatch covers, and I also noticed that the livewell lids were insulated. All the gauges at the helm were angled just enough to face me directly and the stainless spoke, wood-grained steering wheel was placed just right. I’d add a tilt feature to the wheel, and while the hot-foot gas pedal was not close enough for my liking, I’m 5’8” (1.74 m). As it turns out, the hot-foot peddle was custom placed for the guy who had already bought the boat, so while it’s hard to complain that he’s a tad taller than me, it is worth mentioning that Triton will mount the pedal to your proportions after you write the check. This is a nice bit of customization.
And Speaking of Writing Checks
Triton isn’t going to give you a 21HP Elite DC for free (I already asked), so what does it take to park one in your garage? Rigged with a 225-hp Optimax, the 21HP carries a base price of $57,560. Our test engine equipped version will be $61,011. And if you want it all, the 300-hp Verado four-stroke is $66,739. As for options, there are plenty to dial in your ride to your tastes. For starters, I’d hate to have my fishing buddies left out in the 77 mph wind, so a port side console is a must (add $694). Our test boat also had the “Elite” package. It consists of the touch pad dash with touch start, front deck carpet pad (and yes, it does make a difference),all stainless latches, a large driver’s glove box, a landing net that tucks behind the seats, cockpit bolsters, remote oil fill, nine Plano tackle boxes, the stainless spoke steering wheel with wood-grain inserts, a fishing tool deck organizer (which included a pull-out measuring bar), and drop in tackle trays for the rod lockers (add $2,335).
Going First Class
If you don’t think the Elite package doesn’t make a difference, you’re kidding yourself. The level of class and luxury takes a giant leap forward. If you are going to buy a boat in this class, why not do it right? Trolling motors will add another $97-$556 depending on which of the 15 you choose. We had an 8” Lowrance fishfinder at the bow (add $2,265) and a 10” at the helm (add $3,540). Granted some options are for “male enhancement” but most are practical items, that yes, you can live without, but if you don’t have to, it’s nice to know they’re offered.
At the end of the day, it was hard to walk away from the 21HP. Not only was it a fun boat to operate, she looked outstanding and was loaded with just the right amount of extras to make a good day of fishing even better. My daddy always told me that if you are going to be involved in competitive sports of any kind, to have the best chance of winning be sure you are using the best equipment available. Never use second best. I think the Triton 21HP Elite DC is the right tool for the right job and if you’re a tournament-class angler, it ought to be on your short list.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Triton 21HP Elite DC (2010-) is 77.1 mph (124.1 kph), burning 23.1 gallons per hour (gph) or 87.43 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Triton 21HP Elite DC (2010-) is 35.3 mph (56.8 kph), and the boat gets 5.30 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.25 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 258 miles (415.21 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 250-hp Mercury OptiMax Pro XS.
- Time to plane for the Triton 21HP Elite DC (2010-) is 3.2 sec. seconds.
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Triton 21HP Elite DC (2010-) is 7.1 sec. seconds.
Standard and Optional Features
Limited Lifetime Hull Warranty
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