Top 10 Researched Boats -- By Type -- in 2010 - 12/29/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter December 29, 2009 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- Top 10 All Sizes & Types
- Top 10 Bowriders
- Top 10 Center Console Boats
- Top 10 Bay Boats
- Top 10 Freshwater Fishing
- Top 10 Wake & Ski Boats
- Top 10 Bass Boats
- Top 10 Pontoon Boats
- Top 10 PWCs
- Top 10 Cruisers 20 - 30-ft
- Top 10 Stern Drives
- Top 10 Outboards
- Top 10 Related Videos
- Top 10 News Videos
- New York Boat Show
- Picture of the Week
- Smart Boating On DVD
- What is Going On Here

The Top 10 List for 2010

Top Ten

Our annual tradition at year-end is to take a look at our server logs and see what boat models, engines, videos, and news items were most popular with our readers during the year. In 2010 we have 30 categories to report on – far too many for a single newsletter, so this week we are running part I, and next week we will publish part II. We think these lists are useful for several reasons; first, it lets you know what your peers are researching at Second, these lists can tip you off to trends that are taking place among fellow consumers so that you won’t get caught on the wrong side of a wind shift. Finally, these Top 10 lists are a good way for you to make sure that you didn’t miss any popular and useful tests, videos or articles published on throughout the year.

In 2010 published over 1,000 tests, reviews, boat buying tips, news articles, how-to tutorials on seamanship, boat handling, and many other subjects. That is more useful information by far than published by any single boating magazine or marine website.

For the last 10 years our credo has been to provide in-depth information, observations and opinions that will aid boat buyers in finding the best vessel for their needs and to help them have a successful, satisfying, and safe boat-owning experience. We re-dedicate ourselves in 2011 to the same purpose.

Following is Part I of our Top 10 Researched in 2010 --

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Bayliner 285
#1 Bayliner 285 Sunbridge
Formula 290 FX4
#2 Formula 290 FX4
Baykuber 245 Cruiser
#3 Bayliner 245 Cruiser

Top 10 Researched Boats

Once again, the low price-point Bayliner brand takes first place honors as well as three out of the top four positions in most-viewed tests on What is surprising, however, is the fact that Bayliner 28’ express cruiser took 1st place, not the $12k Bayliner 160 outboard-powered bowrider, which ranked 4th. But the other seven boats on the top 10 list are largely from the top price range in their class. Ranking #2 is the new Formula 290 FX4, and also on the Top 10 list is the Cruisers Yachts Cantius 48 hardtop.

4. Bayliner 160 OB BR
5. MasterCraft 300
6. World Cat 320 CC
7. Meridian Yachts 441
8. Cruisers Yachts Cantius 48
9. Chris-Craft Silver Bullet 20
10. Yamaha 242 Limited S

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Bayliner 160 OB
#1 Bayliner 160 OB
Yamaha 242 Limited S
#2 Yamaha 242 LTD S
Regal 2300
#3 Regal 2300

Top 10 Researched Boats

The bowrider category is one of the largest selling types of boat on the market. Historically, bowriders have been the battle ground for the nation’s largest boat builders, but among people doing research on two brands -- Bayliner and Yamaha -- took eight of the Top 10 positions. Only the Regal 2300 and the Formula 290 could capture top spots in our readers’ bowrider research. Please note that outboard models took the #1 and #4 slots. In the U.S. Bayliner is the largest selling sterndrive brand in its price class and Yamaha is the largest selling brand in the 20’ to 25’ range of boats no matter what class or propulsion.

4. Bayliner 180 OB
5. Yamaha SX210
6. Formula 290
7. Bayliner 175
8. Yamaha AR 210
9. Yamaha AR 240
10. Bayliner 185

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World Cat 320 CC
#1 World Cat 320 CC
Boston Whaler 370 Outrage
#2 Boston Whaler 370 Outrage
Mako 264 CC
#3 Mako 264 CC

Top 10 Researched Boats

The big news in the Offshore Center Console category is that catamarans have now captured the attention of America’s offshore anglers for serious buying consideration. The World Cat 320 CC ranks #1 in research sessions, the Glacier Bay Renegade 2740 CC cat #4, and the World Cat 290 CC #6! Two other boats in this category are also noteworthy: the $400k Boston Whaler 37CC which is probably the most innovate center console on the planet, and the Hydra-Sports 4200 (formerly the 4100) which is one of the largest production center consoles made. Four Makos are on the list thanks to their value proposition.

4. Glacier Bay Renegade 2740
5. Hydra-Sports 4100 Vector SF
6. World Cat 290 CC
7. Mako 234 CC
8. Sailfish 2660 CC
9. Mako 284 CC
10. Mako 212 CC

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Fincraft 19 cc
#1 FinCraft 19 CC
Mako 1901 Inshore
#2 Mako 1901 Inshore
Mako 264 CC
#3 SeaSwirl 1905 CC Striper

Top 10 Researched Boats 

Seven different builders have garnered serious Bay Boat consideration from readers, which is unusual in the small boat realm where a few companies often dominate. Ranking #1 is the newest boat to be offered on the market in this class – the FinCraft 19 CC, constructed with the VEC hull laminating process. The other nine bay boats are built by conventional spray gun and hand layup. All of these boats are designed for use in protected locations and for getting onto flats and skinny water where feisty critters lurk. Other than their length, they are differentiated from their center console big sisters by their shallow draft, low freeboard, light weight, and usually a casting platform forward.

4. Trophy 1703 CC
5. Boston Whaler 190 Montauk
6. Triumph 170 CC
7. Triumph 190 CC
8. Boston Whaler 150 SS
9. Boston Whaler 200 Dauntless
10. Grady-White 180 Fisherman

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Lund 2075 Pro-V
#1 Lund 2075 Pro-V
FinCraft 17 SC
#2 FinCraft 17 SC
Crestliner 1650 Fish Hawk
#3 Crestliner 1650 Fish Hawk

Top 10 Researched Boats

Aluminum freshwater multi-species fishing boats led all categories and types of boats in sales increases in 2010 in the U.S. If aluminum boats are an “early indicator” it may mean that many other types of boats will show sales increases in 2011. This year several popular boat brands pushed the perennially popular Tracker to the back of the pack in this category. Lund, Crestliner and Triton all showed strong consumer interest among our members, taking five of the Top 10 positions in our research sweepstakes. The new VEC-made fiberglass FinCraft showed strong engagement with freshwater fishermen, ranking #2 and #5. The FinCraft was the only fiberglass boat brand that made the Top 10 Multi-Species Boats list.

4. Lund 1625 Rebel XL SS
5. FinCraft 1850 DC
6. Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS
7. Tracker Tundra 18 SC
8. Triton Ambush 18
9. Tracker Targa 17 SC
10. Lund 186 Pro Sport GL

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Tigé Z1
#1 Tigé Z-1
Axis Wake Research A22
#2 Axis Wake Research A22
Tigé 24Vé
#3 Tigé 24 Vé

Top 10 Researched Boats

The Cinderella story in the Wake & Ski Boat category is the 20% sales growth of Tigé from 2009 to 2010, moving this brand from seventh position among all boutique wake & ski boat builders in the U.S. to #4, right behind the big three – MasterCraft, Malibu and Nautique. At the same time Tigé even moved past several famous sterndrive builders in the 20’ to 25’ category in actual U.S. sales during the last year. Tigé was one of only four builders to be up in sales in this popular size range. Among members Tigé dominated the research in this category taking five of the 10 Top research positions.

4. MasterCraft CSX 265 SS
5. MasterCraft ProStar 214V
6. Malibu Wakesetter 21 VLX
7. Tigé 20V
8. Tigé 22i
9. Tigé RZ2
10. Malibu Response LXi

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Nitro 189 Sport
#1 Nitro 189 Sport
Triron 21 HP Elite DC
#2 Triton 21 HP Elite DC
Nitro Z-7
#3 Nitro Z-7

Top 10 Researched Boats

The research sessions in the Bass Boat category illustrate what appears to be a new paradigm in boat buying – namely, the rise in popularity of low-price point and value-oriented models. Tracker Marine’s fiberglass Nitro brand took four of the 10 top positions and its aluminum Pro Team 170 TX ranked #6. Stratos, now owned by Platinum Equity and built in the Ranger plant, is firmly in the “value” niche of bass boats and it ranked #4 and #5 in research sessions. Given that trend, the emergence of Triton’s more up-market fiberglass 21 HP DC, ranking #3, is noteworthy in the bass category. Eight of the Top 10 bass boats were fiberglass.

4. Stratos 285 XL
5. Stratos 176 XT
6. Skeeter FX 21
7. Tracker Pro Team 170 TX
8. Triton VT-17
9. Nitro NX 750
10. Nitro NX 882 DC

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Harris FloteBote Grand Mariner SEL 230
#1 Harris FloteBote Grand Mariner SEL 230
Harris FloteBote Grand Mariner SL 250
#2 Harris FloteBote Grand Mariner SL 250
Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 18
#3 Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 18

Top 10 Researched Boats

If research sessions on are any indication, the pontoon market is still a free-for-all as more than two dozen brands, many of them regional, contend for consumers’ attention. Seven different brand names appear among our Top 10 list, which makes it one of the most diverse of all boat types. Harris FloteBote took #1 and #2 research honors. This venerable brand has shown market leadership in tri-toons and in the sportier, more up-market models. With the advent of tri-toons, the use of larger outboard engines, toons have been adopted by a younger class of owners who use them for waterskiing, tubing and even exploring and overnight camping aboard.

4. Manitou 24 X-Plode Cruise SHP
5. Bennington 2574 RLi
6. Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 Regency Edition
7. Lowe Suncruiser SS214
8. JC Pontoon Tri-Toon 246
9. Bennington 2275 FSi
10. Manitou Legacy 26

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Sea-Doo (PWC) RXT-X 260
#1 Sea-Doo RXT-X 260
Yamaha FZS
#2 Yamaha FZS
Yamaha VXR
#3 Yamaha VXR

Top 10 Researched Boats

There are four builders of PWCs, but for the most part we have tested only two brands over the years – Yamaha and Sea-Doo. Not surprisingly, these two brands own our Top 10 researched list, splitting it 50/50. The test we did a couple of years ago on the Sea-Doo RXT-X 260 had the most research sessions, followed closely by the Yamaha FZS and VXR. All together, we estimate that consumers researching PWCs on spent more than 20,000 hours in 2010. Each year it seems that the PWCs become more and more sophisticated as new innovations are introduced to appeal to specific niche markets.

4. Sea-Doo Sportster SCIC
5. Yamaha VX Cruiser
6. Yamaha VX Deluxe
7. Yamaha FX HO
8. Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO
9. Sea-Doo GTI SE
10. Yamaha FZR

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Bayliner 285
#1 Bayliner 285 Sunbridge
Bayliner 255 Cruiser
#2 Bayliner 245 Cruiser
Sea Ray 240 Sundancer
#3 Sea Ray 240 Sundancer

Top 10 Researched Boats
CRUISERS – 20' TO 30’

The general societal trend toward downsizing has focused more consumer scrutiny on trailerable cruisers the last year or so. Indeed, the most researched boat in this category – the Bayliner 285 Sunbridge – was the most researched boat of all 1600 boats on in 2010. It accounted for 40,000 research sessions. Little wonder, then, that it is the largest selling boat in class. Builders of trailerable cruisers usually attempt to pack all of the amenities found in 35’ to 40’ boats in boats under 30’ with a beam generally of 8’6” (2.6 m). As a result this category gets attention from people moving up from sportboats, fishing and pontoon boats, as well as people moving down from larger cruisers who want the versatility (and range) of a trailerable boat that can cruise the highways to new destinations.

4. Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
5. Doral 275 Venezia
6. Glastron GS 289
7. Sea Ray 300 Sundancer
8. Larson Cabrio 240
9. Cobalt 276
10. Sea Ray 240 Sundancer

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MerCruiser 260
#1 MerCruiser 5.0L MPI (260-hp)
MerCruiser 350
#2 MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI (320-hp)
MerCruiser 350 Mag 300-hp
#3 MerCruiser 4.3L MPI

Top 10 Researched Engines

One of the most popular features of is its links to engine videos that appear on most tests. Since the desired performance of a boat is directly related to the engine powering it, for most buyers it accounts for at least 50% of the buying decision-making. While has not made a video on a MerCruiser engine in years, the ones we did make early in this decade are still popular with members as they search for as much objective, 3rd-party information as they can get. We’re happy to announce to those members requesting more information about Volvo Penta stern drive engines, that in 2011 we will be testing and reviewing its most popular models.

4. Volvo Penta 4.3L GL 190-hp
5. Volvo Penta 5.0L GXi 270-hp
6. MerCruiser MX 6.2 L MPI
7. MerCruiser 496 MAG 375-hp
8. MerCruiser 496 MAG HO 425-hp
9. MerCruiser 5.7L TKS (260-hp)
10. MerCruiser 525 EFI (500-hp)

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Evinrude 150
#1 Evinrude E-TEC 150 H.O.
Evinrude 250 HO
#2 Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.
Evinrude E-TEC 300
# 3 Evinrude E-TEC 300

Top 10 Reseached Engines

The tests we conducted this year of Evinrude outboard engines were warmly received by members who looked at them in great numbers. These 3rd-party, independent tests, to a large part, put to rest much of the debate that for years had been swirling around Evinrude’s E-TEC technology. It is little wonder that Evinrude outboards grabbed our readers attention in five of the Top 10 spots. We look forward to testing more units in the coming year. The repower market has been a large part of outboard sales the last couple of years and that trend will likely continue in 2011.

4. Evinrude E-TEC 130
5. Yamaha F250
6. Yamaha F350
7. Honda BF150
8. Tohatsu MD70
9. Evinrude E-TEC 25
10. Mercury 115 EFI

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#1 Cobalt Will Offer Both Merc and Volvo Joystick Systems
Sea Ray
#2 Sea Ray New Model,
Spy Video
#3 Meridian Factory Tour -- Hull & Components

Top 10 Viewed

Videos that “relate” to the boat test being viewed have always been a popular feature at There is more to boat buying than performance numbers and a profusion of cup holders. Engine control systems, construction methods and materials, warranty programs, the integrity of top management, and customer service all play an important role in providing a satisfying boat-owning experience. studies indicate that the more serious the buyer, the more related videos he/she watch in order to soak up all of the available information with which to make a better buying decision.

4. Formula - Axius Joystick
5. Formula and the Formula Difference
6. Four Winns IPS Joystick
7. Formula - Skyhook Technology
8. Yamaha- Character of a Jetdrive
9. Volvo Penta IPS Turning Radius
10. Sea-Doo PWC Plant Tour

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#1 Storm Videos
Boat Crash Video
#2 Boat Crash Video
Winds off Cape Cod
#3 35-kt winds off Cape Cod

Top 10 Watched
NEWS VIDEOS was the first recreational marine website in the world to stream video, a full five years before a little company called started up. YouTube showed the world how powerful videos could be on the Internet, something we’d been trying to do all along. Today many of our news videos come from YouTube including most from our Top 10 list. This year’s winner among viewers is a 1:20 video titled “Ships in Storm – Incredible Footage” by Schirello. In our opinion this video is a work of art and well worth viewing (again and again – we never seem to tire of it). Three or four videos of different ships have been edited together and made to look like they were all shot at the same time. The movements of the ships in huge seas have been carefully choreographed to the stirring music which makes it a classic.

4. Drag Boat Chine Walking
5. Luckiest Sailor Alive
6. Ady Gil vs. Shanon Maru
7. Croatia SAR Team Saves Boater
8. Count the Boats Launched
9. Teach Your Dog to Catch Fish
10. First Asian Carp Found Beyond Barrier

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Smart Boating's Boating Course Is for Veteran Boaters, Too

Smart Boating
When we transferred our popular CD boating course over to DVD, we had no idea it would sell so well. ...Or in so many places.

We’ve been overwhelmed with the response to our DVD Boating Course. Based on the feedback we’ve been getting, it’s clearly not only for beginners getting started, but also for veteran boaters as well. We are surprised to see that most of the courses are being purchased by seasoned boaters, doing exactly what we did -- learning things that we forgot, or never knew. Perhaps that is why the NMMA started promoting the course after just one look. Let's look at who is buying's Smart Boating Course...

Order your copy here...

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Boat Show

New York Boat Show
Jan. 19-23, 2011

New York Boat Show
Boat builders and dealers are getting ready to put their best boats forward at the huge Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in the Big Apple.

The oldest boat show in the U.S. will be celebrating its 106th anniversary next month, Jan 19-23, in New York City. If you do not live in the New York metro area, we couldn’t think of a better reason to visit the Big Apple. See the boat show during the day and enjoy a Broadway show at night. The city is festive in January and it is usually a surprisingly good time to visit. Do your research on then check out your short list in person at the show. One advantage of a boat show in a convention center is that you can check out the bottom shape of most of the boats you see. Dealers come to the show to do business, so if you are serious good deals can usually be made there. Remember the new boat buying paradigm: for the most part boats now need to be ordered in advance of construction. Get your new boat order in as soon as possible to insure delivery before the season starts. Visit the NY Boat Show website...

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"I’ll see your Sea Ray, and raise you a Glastron." - C. Nikel

Second Place

"When you call Billy Bob's Boat Hauling make sure you tell him you want 'Last on, First off'" - S. Merkel

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Wow, boat sales are really stacking-up."
- J. Kenney

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WIGOH 12/29/10

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