Hydra-Sports 3600 VX // Beneteau Air Step //13 Tests & Reviews - 07/20/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter July 20, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here.
Boattest.com: Tests You Can Trust
- Hydra-Sports 3600 VX
- Tahoe 215 Xi
- Azimut Flybridge 53
- Beneteau Air Step
- Sea Ray 240 Sundeck
- Rampage 34 IPS
- Nitro 290 Sport
- Hatteras 54 Convertible
- Mako 284 Center Console
- MasterCraft ProStar 190
- Formula 37 PC
- Evinrude E-TEC 130
- Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick
- Shurhold Products
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course on DVD
- Sportboat Buying Tips
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Hydra-Sports 3600 VX: Adding Overnights to Offshore Fishing

Hydra-Sports 3600 VX
With the 3600 VX, you don't have just fishing at your disposal; overnights are a part of the plan. Canyons anyone?

Fishermen know that owning a large boat like the Hydra-Sports 3600 VX is great.  She can get out and back in almost anything, but real fishermen also know that if you're heading offshore, then you don't want to be stuck fishing for just an hour only to head right back home. The typical run to the Northeast canyons takes upwards of 5-6 hours which means you're going to be spending the night there. Thanks to the 3600 VX, you'll likely want to spend even longer. Let's take a look and see why.

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Tahoe 215 Xi:
Floating Party Station

Tahoe 215 Xi
With far more room in the bow than a traditional bowrider/runabout, the Tahoe 215 Xi is a combination fishing rig and on-water party platform with a length overall of 21' 6" and a beam of 8' 6". She costs under $30K.

When researching a 21' boat you should always consider how and where you plan to use her. The Tahoe 215 Xi is a deckboat which offers fishing features and the room to bring along several friends. Her bow design allows two people to fish and the cockpit layout provides almost as much area as a pontoon boat. In this video review we look at a few key features...

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Captain's Report

Azimut Flybridge 53:
Her Master Cabin is Fit for a Queen

Azimut Flybridge 54
With twin Caterpillar diesels, the Flybridge 53 can run 31 knots, according to Azimut. We like her deep flying bridge, well-protected with rails, and tall radar arch with shade.

Introduced in 2009, named Motorboat of the Year 2010 in Europe, the 54' 9" (16.7 m) LOA Azimut Flybridge 53 has a full-beam midships master stateroom with not only an en suite head but also a dinette for two. We're so used to yachts with this layout running pod drives today that it's worthy to note she spins conventional shafts and props, too. What else did Azimut fit belowdecks?

Brochure request

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New Video

Beneteau Air Step:
Introduction of New Design Technology

Beneteau Airstep
At the Beneteau test facility, two identical boats, one with the Air Step hull design, are tested side-by-side. The results are quite interesting. Notice the white air scoops in the sides of the forward boat.

The team at Beneteau is introducing a new hull design that provides some powerful advantages. Some of these advantages include the ability to get on plane much faster and to use less power to achieve the same speed results. Although Beneteau calls this new design Air Step, there is far more to it than a step, in fact, they duct air from above the waterline and then vent it through the hull to create a cushion of air to help reduce drag, but unlike other step type designs, Beneteau has been able to increased stability. See all of the details in this video review...

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New Test

Sea Ray 240 Sundeck:
Sportboat Meets Bowrider

Sea Ray 240 Sundeck
The Sea Ray 240 Sundeck has room for a slew of folks to enjoy a day on the water. We like her clever ski and board stowage, and her performance with standard power.

Sea Ray says their 24' 1" (7.34 m) LOA 240 Sundeck combines the capacity and comfort of a bowrider with the performance and styling of a sportboat. They don't mention performance, but our captain tested a 240 recently and was impressed by her smooth manners across the speed range. And her top end of nearly 50 mph with standard power doesn't hurt, either. But where do you stow your waterskis?

Request a test drive

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Features Video

Rampage 34 IPS:
Cruising Design in a Fishing Machine

Rampage 34
Our tests have shown the performance and handling you can exect from a Rampage, but we also want you to know what they have been doing with the interiors. Here is a forward berth with a look and feel we usually see in an express cruiser.

When testing the Rampage 34, we were told that the team at Rampage had focused new attention on the interior. With this in mind, we took the time to thoroughly examine the design and the fit and finish of this evolving fish boat. Obviously we found a lot of positive changes, so to show you in detail, we have a short video review.

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New Boat

Nitro 290 Sport:
Fish, Swim, Ski – This Boat Can Multi-task!

Nitro 290 Sport
Nitro's 290 Sport can wear many hats: Like this, she's a fun runabout, but make a few simple adjustments and she's ready to chase bass or walleye, or tow a skier.

If you think Nitro builds only fishing boats, you're missing one water ski: Yes, the company is famous for bass boats, but they also build multi-tasking models like the cool Nitro 290 Sport. Styled like a runabout, with comfortable seating behind a full-width windshield, the 19' 5" (5.92 m) 290 Sport can tow a skier or wakeboarder as handily as boat a trophy bass. But what about rod racks?

Brochure request

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Captain's Report

Hatteras 54 Convertible:
The Smallest Sister in the Lineup

Hatteras 54 Convertible
Even with her added 3'4" (1.0 m) of integrated pulpit, Hatteras still sticks to calling their 54 by her hull length of 54’0” (16.46 m). She currently represents the smallest offering from this company whose boats have spanned generations.

Once upon a time, Hatteras built manly fishing boats, Spartan crafts designed for the sole purpose of boating fish.  But that was then... today, the company still builts what many experts consider the world's finest fishing boats, but now they please the ladies, too.  Hatteras convertibles accomplish the twin goal of fish-ability and comfort simultaneously - and although this Hatteras 54 represents what is now the smallest offering from this timeless company's line of convertibles, she's not an "entry-level" yacht. She's much too loaded and much too high end for that. Let's take a look...

Brochure request

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Captain's Report

Mako 284 Center Console:
Mako's Flagship CC Gets a Makeover

Mako 284 Center Console
Twin engines and a 21-degree deadrise mean a boat that can deliver, and take what Mother Nature decides to dish out. Her hull weight of 6000 lbs (2721 kg) will keep you stable and steady.

This 28' 4'' (8.63 m) fish boat is loaded with standard features but still offers some options that will make your 284 even more complete. Of course it's all packaged together in a hull with a legendary performance heritage and a strong rep for delivering a dry ride. The 284 CC is packaged with twin Mercury engines, and you can have your choice of either Verado's or Optimax models up to 300-hp. Mako tells us that this boat has gotten a makeover of some of its key features, so let's take a look at how they've done.

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Captain's Report

MasterCraft ProStar 190:
Designed for Serious Enthusiasts

MasterCraft ProStar 190
With a LOA of 19' 8" (5.8 m) and a beam of 7' 7" (2.31 m) this is the boat that has defined the performance MasterCraft has long been known for.

MasterCraft is known for creating watersports boats that not only excel at what they do, but do it with first rate construction and components. This ProStar 190 exemplifies the concepts of a flat wake, dead on tracking, and solid performance… all the characteristics that high end skiers are looking for. Is it any wonder that this is the boat that is pulling the IWSF Worlds?

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New Video

Formula 37 PC:
She Has Raceboat DNA

Formula 37 PC
Her performance heritage shows in the 37 PC.  But unlike her raceboat forebears, the 37 PC is plush and comfortable.

Beauty isn't only skin-deep, at least not at Formula. Under their glossy topcoats, Formulas carry the DNA of some of the toughest raceboats ever built – boats that helped create powerboating as we know it today. (Need proof? Formula was founded in 1962 by racing legend Don Aronow, who collected his first trophies driving Formulas.) Today, one of Formula's most popular, and longest lived, models is the 37 PC. Although she's a little beamier than her racing ancestors, she rides on a modified V hull that combines performance, stability and comfort. Her construction and engineering are raceboat-tough, but her stying and finish is all yacht. Find out more...

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Engine News

Video Inspection of the Evinrude 130-hp Outboard

Evinrude 130
Capt. Steve looks at the revolutionary fuel injection system on the Evinrude 130-hp outboard.

The Evinrude 130-hp outboard engine is unique in many ways. First, 130-hp is a place where few other outboard engine companies build an engine, leaving a big horsepower gap in their line. Most engine makers hop from 115-hp to 150-hp. But the 130 range is a sweet spot of ideal power for many boats in the 17' to 22' range. For some of these boats 150-hp is too much or too costly, and 115-hp may be too little power, depending on how many people are aboard and what the boat's mission is. Generally, boats in this range are deeper-V'd than they used to be for a better ride, but that also means they are harder to push. Join us as we delve into the details of the Evinrude 130 on video...

Engine News

Volvo Penta
Sterndrive Joystick:
Easy Docking for Everyone

Smart Boating
We put the Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick through a full test and show just what it’s capable of.

Are you the type who has trouble docking your sportboat? Are you also sick and tired of seeing how the boats with pods are the ones that get joysticks and can move any way the stick moves? And are you equally sick of the thought of having to pay for pods just to get a joystick? So are we, but there’s good news. The design team at Volvo Penta (yes, the pioneers of recreational pods!) have decided that joysticks should be for everyone, even the sterndrive boat owner. Today, we take a look at the capabilities of the Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick, and whether or not it takes a complete retrofit to get it onto the average boat. It’s all here in our full test video...


Shurhold's Water Blade:
Dry It Faster

Shurhold Water Blade

We want to pass on a helpful hint for drying your boat: the Shurhold Flexible Water Blade helps. When we put this product to the test, we were not very excited. Let’s be real -- drying your boat is a pain, and nothing will change that. Or so we thought. We found that the Flexible Water Blade actually conformed to the shape of the hull and removed all of the water. It leaves the surface streak-free and is very easy on the arms and back.

Visit Shurhold to order...

Where in the World?

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week
Find out where this picture was taken and when...

See the larger picture, when and who took it -- and where!

Send us your favorite boating images.

When sending a photo, let us know when, where and what boat you were on.

Smart Boating

DVD Boating Course

Smart Boating
This set of 4 DVDs covers virtually all of the important topics you need to know to go boating safely.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about BoatTEST.com's Smart Boating Course it’s clearly not only for beginners, but also for veteran boaters as well. Perhaps that is why the NMMA started promoting the course after just one look. Order your copy here...

Watch the trailer...
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25 Points to Compare

Sportboat Buying Check Point #4:
What About the Engine Room?

Sportboat Buying
This Sea Ray 270 SLX has a MerCruiser 8.2 MAG sterndrive. The Merc is a good, reliable motor, but it still needs maintenance, which means you have to be able to get at it easily. That's why engine room design is important.

There are so many things to consider when buying a new boat, anyone can overlook one or two. But one thing you should be sure to check, and carefully, before signing on the dotted line is your intended vessel's engine compartment. You'll be spending more time here than you think, and if your engine is difficult to access, or lives in a cramped or poorly arranged space, you'll tend not to visit it as often as you should. It's just human nature. But fall short on maintenance and daily inspections and you'll pay the price down the road. To help you avoid problems, here is the #4 installment in our series of "25 Points to Compare..."


Sea Ray



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Lesson of the Week

Preparing for an Emergency Situation

Lesson of the Week
If you hit something and are taking on water you must take decisive action quickly. Use whatever is available to help slow the flow of water going inside the boat while you wait for help to arrive.

This week Capt. Steve goes over five new lessons and guidelines on emergency situations and what to do to help preserve life while you wait to be rescued. Everyone aboard will have to act quickly, and that’s why drills and practicing emergency situations with your family is important. So this means everyone must first put their life jackets on; while someone calls for help on the radio, other crew use whatever they can to try and stop or slow the flow of water into the boat. Do not abandon ship! Rather, keep working to save it. Stay with the boat or get as far on top of it as you can until help arrives. The videos presented this week are part of BoatTEST.com’s Boating Course which is USCG-approved. Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com.

To view this week’s lessons --

To view past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"It occurred to Benny that no matter what he wrote in the speech bubble it was still going to be his fault." - D. Gilmore

Second Place

"You want to explain to me again how 'Less is more'..." - K. Hedrick

Honorable Mention(s)

"Melvin, I thought you said this would be a great way to spend time together. You aren't even talking to me!" - A. Kragil

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 7/20/2011

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