Azure AZ259// Beneteau GT 49 // Formula 400 FX8 Test - 08/22/2012
BoatTEST Newsletter August 22, 2012 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
- Azure AZ259
- Formula 400 FX8
- Bayliner 197 SD
- Beneteau GT 49 Fly
- Cypress Cay Cayman 250
- Glacier Bay 2665 Canyon Runner
- Hydra-Sports 2500 CC
- Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan
- MJM 34z
- Nitro Z-7
- Princecraft SVX 27 I/O
- Sea Ray 260 Sundeck
- Tracker Pro Guide V-16 WT
- World Cat 290 CC
- Great Loop Update
- Evinrude ICON
- Royal Purple Test
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

New Azure AZ259:
A Premium Sportboat

Azure AZ259
The AZ259 is loaded with high-style and "done-right" features, such as the extended swim platform, the self-bailing cockpit, the curved wrap-around windshield, and the stepped hull.

There is a new kid on the sportboat block and it is the Azure line of premium sportboats. The brand itself is not new, but with its recent acquisition by KCS International Inc., it might as well be. Azure was always a good brand but was a "sleeper" because the builder did not go out of its way to expose the public to the brand. Now KCS is changing all of that as well as upgrading the boats into the premium category. The building philosophy of KCS (owner of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts) will now be executed in the Azure line just as it is among the company's larger yachts, we're told. That is good news for anyone in the market for a sportboat. Let's look at the full test video...

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Test Video

Formula 400 FX8:
Comfortable Handling at 60+ MPH

Formula 400 FX8
The largest in the FX lineup this FX8 has an LOA of 41'6"(12.65 m) and a beam of 11' (3.35 m).

The FX line was created to add over-the-top features to an already first-rate brand and now this 400 FX8 represents the largest in the lineup. Our full performance test revealed a top speed of over 60 mph, and she does this while keeping her occupants ensconced in a level of luxury that was surprising even for Formula. Let's look at the full test video...

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Test Video

Bayliner 197 SD:
Family Fun with Great Handling

Bayliner 197 SD
With her standard 135-hp engine we reached a top speed of 39.1 mph and a best cruise range of 154 miles. What impressed us most about her is how well she handled.

This Bayliner 197 SD has an amazing amount of room especially for a boat that's only 18'7" (5.66 m) LOA. The capacity plate says she will hold 10 people, and take our word for it…they will all easily fit. In addition to her roominess, we also found her to be an excellent handling boat, even on her standard 135-hp engine. Let's take a look at the full review...

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Test Video

Beneteau GT 49 Fly:
To Fly or Not to Fly?

Beneteau Gran Turismo 49 Fly
The GT 49 comes in two versions, one with the flybridge and one without. LOA 51'2" (15.6 m) with a 14'1" (14.08 m) beam.

Here's a boat that has an option for a flybridge and since the lower helm is so nicely done, we were hard pressed to determine if we liked operating this 49 from the flybridge or the lower helm better. On our full test we found her to be an exceptionally well handling boat exhibiting docile handling characteristics while not sacrificing any responsiveness to the helm. Our full performance review has the full story. Watch the test video...

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Features Video

Cypress Cay Cayman 250:
Family Cruising in Comfort

Cypress Cay Cayman 250
Both the engine and the Cypress Cay Cayman 250 come from the same company -- the Brunswick Corp.

Sometimes it's not just enough to have a competitive price, creature comforts also become a key element in the buying decision. That is where the Cypress Cay Cayman 250 comes in. We found her to be not only comfortable, but with the triple tubes she has sporty performance as well. And, as Cypress Cay is all about choice, the options list will allow for customization and upgrading to suit. Take a look at our full features video...

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Captain's Report

Glacier Bay 2665 Canyon Runner:
At Home in Offshore Conditions

Glacier Bay 2665 Canyon Runner
The Glacier Bay 2665 was designed for offshore work in sloppy conditions and she can hold almost anything caught.

The Glacier Bay 2665 is called the "Canyon Runner" even though she lacks overnight accommodations (unless you count the optional bow dodger), simply because she handles offshore conditions so well. At 4,200 pounds (1,905 kg) she is one of the lightest in class, which gives her excellent economy. Years ago this is the boat that won the "Bermuda Challenge" running from Virginia to Bermuda, and the design even made a trip from Hawaii to Midway Island. There is a message here. Take a look...

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Review Video

Hydra-Sports 2500 CC:
It's All about Fishing

Hydra-Sports 2500 CC
The Hydra-Sports 2500 CC is a fighting machine on a mission. She was design by serious anglers for serious anglers. There is no crossover, all-things-to-all-people here.

The Hydra-Sports 2500 CC was literally built from the keel up to be a serious contender in the center console fishing realm, an area that Hydra-Sports does not take lightly. She has high freeboard to keep her safe in a seaway, a 23-degree dead rise to handle the offshore conditions like an offshore race boat, and a Kevlar reinforced keel to keep the boat in one piece if it hits some flotsam at high speed. The only thing anglers need to worry about are finding the fish. Let's look at the features review...

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Features Video

Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan:
3 Rooms, Ocean View

Meridian 541
While the Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan has a LOA of 53’10" (16.41 m) she is still very easy to handle, particularly around the dock thanks to her Zeus pods.

Meridian Yacht’s largest motoryacht in the lineup -- the 541 Sedan -- has a number features that make her comfortable for long-term cruising. Among her innovative interior highlights are the aft galley, forward elevated salon, and drop down glass partition to an aft deck bar. With 3 staterooms, including a full beam master, she is definitely made for spending extended time onboard. But her best feature is that she is affordable. Let's look at the full features review video...

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New Captain's Report

MJM 34z:
For the Couple Who Has Everything

MJM 34z
With an LOA of 37'5" (11.4 m) and a beam of 11’ (3.35 m) the MJM 34z is an excellent size to be easily managed by a cruising couple or even single-handed.

The MJM 34z is a cruising yacht that demonstrates what the breed can be in the best of all worlds, if money and mass-marketing are no object. She is the brain child of lifelong boaters who couldn't seem to find what they were looking for in the current market and so designed their own vision of the perfect boat. With an all-star team comprised of naval architect Doug Zurn (the "z" in 34z) and the premier yacht fabricators at Boston Boat Works, the groundwork was laid to build a line of cruising yachts for serious -- but very discerning -- cruising people. Let's take a more detailed look...

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Test Video

Nitro Z-7:
The Right Stuff for the Right Price

Nitro Z-7
The Nitro Z-7 has all the right stuff for bass fishing at the right price.

There’s little sense in getting a boat if you feel guilty every time you choose not to use it. That’s why the folks at Nitro tell us that they build their boats with an “everything the bigger boats have for less money” strategy. And it seems to be working. The Nitro Z-7 comes to you very well equipped at only $25,995, including a 150-hp Optimax and trailer. We also love the removable port console. It all adds up to a value-driven performance bass boat. Take a look at our full test video here...

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Captain's Report

Princecraft SVX 27 IO:
She Has What Most Others Don't…

Princecraft SVX 27 I/O
There are only a few toons powered by IO's and the Princecraft SVX 27 IO is one of them. She is also one of sleekest-looking toons on the water in our opinion.

Most pontoon boats are pretty much laid out the same. Aside from the level of class and luxury that is evident in the Princecraft SVX 27 IO, there's one other feature that separates her from the pack… her sterndrive power that allows her to have a full beam swim platform. But this is just one thing that makes her one of the most innovative toons on the market. Just take a look at this video review to see what we mean. More...

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Review Video

Sea Ray 260 Sundeck:
Room to Spread Out

Sea Ray 260 SD
Our test Sea Ray 260 Sundeck reached a top speed of 46.9 mph and a best cruise of 23 mph.

Sea Ray's Sundeck series solves the problem of boaters needing a boat that's 2' (.6 m) bigger than the one already owned. The lineup starts at 20’ (6.1 m) and goes all the way to 30’ (9.14 m), growing in 2’ (.6 m) increments along the way. This 260 Sundeck has a length overall of 26'4" (8 m) and a beam of 8'6" (2.59 m). Her spacious layout will allow 14 people to come aboard and move about freely while they are there. Let's take a look at our full review video...

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Test Video

Tracker V-16 Pro Guide:
Available in Side-Console or Walk-Through

Tracker Pro Guide V-16 WT
For fishing on a budget, its hard to top the aluminum Tracker V-16 Pro Guide.

Here’s a durable fishing boat that has attractive features like all welded construction, easy-to-clean vinyl flooring, and a color-matched trailer. She's fully rigged and ready to fish as soon as she leaves the showroom floor, and she comes in at an affordable price. The complete boat/motor and trailer package is priced at $16,295 including a 50-hp 4-stroke Mercury Full test and review video...

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Features Video

World Cat 290 CC:
Because the Fish Are Offshore

World Cat 290 CC
We’ve yet to get onboard a World Cat that didn't impress us with her offshore handling capability and the 290 CC is no exception.

The World Cat 290 Center Console not only has all the ingredients of a hard-performing offshore fishing boat, but all the room to bring the fight to the fish along with as much equipment as necessary. In fact, the more we moved about this boat, the more impressed we were with its spaciousness. Just take a look at our full features review and see for what we mean. More...

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Beneteau Swift 34:
Last Leg of the Great Loop

Greatest Loop Update
The Beneteau Swift 34 is caught here racing past downtown Chicago after crossing three of the five Great Lakes. The last leg is from Charleston, SC to Annapolis, MD.

As you read this the Beneteau Swift 34 "Great Loop" will be making her way on the last leg of its 6,000 Great Loop Route voyage. She left Charleston, SC on Monday headed for Annapolis, MD to close the loop on September 7th. Aboard is's crew of two couples who plan to put the Swift 34 through her most rigorous "in-use" test so far. Of course we will have a full report -- called the "Test of Time" (the best test of all!) -- in a future issue of the newsletter.  To find out what we will be reporting on and where we will be going...

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Test Video

Evinrude ICON: Digital Controllability for Outboards

Evinrude ICON
Digital engine trim, cruise control, single lever controllability, and synchronization of up to 5 engines are just some of the features available with Evinrude ICON controls.

The days of running sliding control cables from the helm all the way back to the engine through a fairly tortuous route are well behind us as far as many builders are concerned. Now it's a matter of a simple wire run and digital controls for control shift and throttle. Adding another control station is as simple as running another wire and swapping between stations which can be done at the push of a button. Evinrude's entry into the world of digital controls is called ICON and to find out just how capable it is, we did a full test of the controls to see what they offer. More...


Royal Purple Test
On a 40-hp Outboard

Royal Purple Test
Capt. Steve adjusts the rpm on a 40-hp outboard on our outdoor test bench.

The last time we tested a sterndrive in Long Island Sound, those of little faith said that wind, waves and changing current could have affected our results. This time we tested Royal Purple against a leading synthetic brand of motor oil in a 40-hp Mercury EFI 4-stroke engine, on a test stand with a hose feeding fresh water through the engine. No wind, waves or current to affect the results -- which were full of surprises for everyone. Learn more...

Where in the World?

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week
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Smart Boating's
DVD Boating Course

Smart Boating
Sometimes it's not what you know, but what you've forgotten.  Smart Boating, because safe boating just isn't enough.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about's Boating Course it’s clearly not only for beginners, but for veteran boaters as well. Perhaps that is why the NMMA started promoting the course after just one look. It's the most complete boating video course available...period. Order here...

Watch the trailer...



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Lesson of the Week

PWC Safe Operation Tips - Part III

Capt. SteveSmart Boating Cover 

Most PWC accidents occur by an inexperienced operator who does not know how to maneuver the watercraft or is operating it at an unsafe speed.

This week Capt. Steve goes over seven lessons and guidelines on PWC restrictions and safely procedures. There is more to PWC operation than meets the eye. The videos presented this week are part of’s USCG-approved Boating Course. Watch these video boating lessons every week on

To view this week’s lessons --

Order all lessons on DVD--

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"I guess now is a bad time to tell you port means left." - S. Davis

Second Place

"When you said you were looking for a boat I assumed you meant at a dealership."
- E. Armour

Third Place

"Tide charts..? What tide charts?"
- K. Braughton

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 8/22/2012

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