Boat Test Videos
Content courtesy ofThe Cruisers Sport Series 298 Bow Rider was created for upscale day cruising and watersports. We found her handling to be like a luxury car on the water with her smooth ride and comfortable layout. With five gel colors and two patterns, it isn’t hard to customize the 298 to individual tastes. But let's start where the real story is… her handling and performance.
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
By Capt. John Wenz
Mission Statement for the 298 Bow Rider
The 298 Bow Rider is designed to be a large, luxurious and extremely comfortable bowrider that can be used for all sorts of watersport activities, as well as upscale day cruising. With a deep cockpit and relatively high freeboard, the 298 should offer a dry and secure day on the water. By outfitting the boat with upscale amenities, this boat is a logical step for those who will one day be ready to move into a larger vessel from either Cruisers Yachts or Rampage Sportfishing Yachts which are also owned by KCS, the parent company.With a 21-degree deadrise and weighing 6,020 lbs. (2,730 kgs.) dry, the 298 Bow Rider should offer a dry and comfortable ride in choppy conditions at speed.
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.
Unusual Swim Platform Design.
The swim platform on the 298 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.
4-Step Swim Ladder.
The swim ladder has four steps (instead of three which most boats have) and there is special "activity" lighting on the platform, which looks cool at night.
Halogen Bow Docking Lights.
Coming home at night can be problematical on a dark night. Cruisers Sport Series has thought of that and made the lights standard.
Two Bilge Pumps.
Most sportboats have one, the Cruisers Sport Series 298 Bow Rider has two, rated at 1100 and 750 gph, respectively.
Three Cockpit Sole Compartments.
By having three separate hatches to access cockpit sole storage owners will be able to easily retrieve the gear desired without having to fish for it under deck.
Thick Seat Cushions with Premium Upholstery.
One of the first things that stands out when seeing the 298 Bow Rider is the plush seating. Clearly, the seats are going to be comfortable and guests should feel pampered. We equate them to what one might find in a luxury automobile versus those found in an economy model.
Standard Bimini and Canvas Covers.
All boats should have these no matter what the activity and Cruisers Sport Series makes them standard.
Cup Holders Drain.
All of the cup holders in the 298 are stainless steel and they all drain.
Performance Test Numbers
Our test boat was powered by a single 320-hp Mercury 5.0 L 377 MAG engine driving a Bravo III lower unit. With our fuel gauge showing 3/8 of a tank, two men, and 50 lbs. of gear we had a test weight of 6,870 lbs. (3,116 kgs.) At 5200 rpm our WOT speed was 47.9 mph. Our best cruise was at 3000 rpm where we were going 23.4 mph burning 8.5 gph for a range of 168 stature miles. By pushing the throttle up another 500 rpm, we only lost 2 miles in range but gained in speed to 29.7 mph, burning 10.95 gph. Between the two settings, there’s only a difference of .004 miles per gallon, so I suspect most people will cruise at 3500 rpm. The 298 was on plane in 5.9 seconds and reached 30 in 9.0 seconds.
A Choice of Power Options
There is really no standard engine in the 298. Consumers are encouraged to select the engine that best meets their application. The least costly engine system is Volvo Penta's 5.7 L 320-hp V8-320C DPS. Other options include Volvo Penta's 6.0 L 380-hp V8-380 DPS, as well as three I/O engines from MerCruiser: the 6.2 L 320-hp 377 MAG B3, the 380-hp 8.2 MAG ECT B3X and the 8.2 L 8.2 MAG MPI HO B3X which delivers 430-hp. Our test model was outfitted with the catalyzed 320-hp 377 MAG from MerCruiser. All of the engines offered from both Volvo Penta and MerCruiser have dual prop lower units. These counter rotating prop systems are known for their fast acceleration, efficiency and directional enhancement at low speeds.
Handling and the Ride
The high freeboard and the displacement make for a comfortable, secure feeling, and the ride is what I’d expect from a luxury bowrider. Wherever I sat in the forward or main cockpits, I experienced a smooth ride. Visibility was good, both underway and coming up out of the hole. For those who might want a larger day boat, and don’t intend to sleep aboard, the 298 Bow Rider from Cruisers Sport Series represents a viable choice.
The 298 is a real lady when it comes to handling. The boat is docile and I detected no bad habits. Her bow rise was not unusually high, turning was controlled and there was no prop ventilation, and just a few bursts of trim got her to optimum speed.
When I compare the Cruisers Sport Series 298 with other boats in class, I find that she is on the light end of the range when it comes to weight. Part of the reason for that is her 8'6" (2.59 m) beam which is the narrowest of the five other boats we looked at in class. Less beam means less weight, less frontal area to push through the water and therefore potentially better speed and fuel consumption. It also means the boat is easier to pull down the highway. It is good to keep in mind that in the U.S. the beam of 8'6" is the maximum permitted for trailering in all 50 states without a special permit.
The First Step
The first thing the KCS International staff did last year after acquiring the Azure line was to put its experienced yacht building team to work at revisiting every aspect of each of the boats in the lineup. The molds were all refurbished, and now the gel coat surfaces are flawless. They freshened-up the colors, both the brighter white and the trim color choices. Naturally, the upholstery colors were updated as well. In addition, a complete review of every step in the production process resulted in numerous changes that are more in line with the KCS standard of quality. 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 in both the attitude of the engineering staff, the quality control department, and the finished product.
The plush forward cockpit offers comfortable seating and it’s big enough to swallow a crowd. Stretch out or gather around the optional table, drink holders and speakers surround system. Sturdy handrails are on both sides, and offer security when underway. I like the round foot well in the bow as it provides more room in a place that is often cramped.
A folding ladder is mounted in the anchor locker, and an optional shower ($190) provides a rinse after swimming. Filler cushions ($835 each) are available for those who prefer lots of room for sunbathing. Additionally, sun worshipers will like the three-position “convertible aft sundeck” lounger 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. A step-down compartment to port can be used as a changing room, or it can be ordered with the choice of a Porta-Potti ($285) or electric toilet ($2,020). Either option is a worthwhile addition and will be popular with everyone in the crew.
There is an optional bow windscreen door ($420) which I recommend because on a crispy, cool morning it will help keep the cockpit cozy.
Below the deck are storage lockers for water toys, and there’s plenty of storage available under the seats; fore and aft. The helm console is fitted with custom fog-resistant gauges including tach, speed, volts, fuel, oil pressure, water temperature trim, hour meter, and a 12 volt outlet. An optional GPS can be added by the factory for an additional $1,375. 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, and the optional cockpit table ($565) is a “must-have” for folks who like to entertain onboard. A cooler is nested under the port side of the wraparound, and the forward portion lifts up to form another lounge for sunning, reading, or keeping an eye on the activity back aft.
Three-position seat back. One of the highlights of the Cruisers Sport Series lineup is the convertible sun lounger on the centerline, aft in the cockpit. Use it facing forward as a seat for the cockpit while socializing or while underway. 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 flat sun pad.
A small gate leads to the swim platform; and the removable cushion makes for an easy transition in and out of the cockpit. Cruisers Sport Series 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 extended swim platform is the result of a well-considered design process and includes several subtle features which bear mentioning. First, 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.
Tapered Swim Platform.
Next, the overall shape is tapered aft, trimming off the outboard corners. These corners often get pretty beat-up over time; they’re typically a trouble spot leaving the dock. And finally, the swim ladder is mounted on the port side; easily visible from the helm for safety. For a little extra sizzle, a set of underwater lights ($960) are an option that is sure to bring the “wows!”
The least expensive engine offered is the Volvo Penta 5.7 L 320-hp V8-320C DPS. With it, the MSRP for the 298 Bow Rider is $98,020. Powered by the new Volvo Penta 6.0 L 380-hp V8-380C DPS the price is $107,030. The MerCruiser 6.2 L 320-hp 377 MAG with B3 is $99,680. For those boaters wanting maximum horsepower, the 298 is offered with the MerCruiser 8.2 L 430-hp MAG HO with B3X for $117,030.
The 298 Bow Rider is one of four bowrider models -- and the largest -- in the lineup from Cruisers Sport Series. Overall, the 298 because of her increased freeboard and big boat roots is probably better adapted to big water situations than some other boats in class.
Test Result Highlights
Pricing Range: $98,000.00-$118,000.00Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Test Results - Change Measurement Unit
All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.