Chaparral H2O 18 // Sea Ray 470 // Rampage 41 // 9 Reviews - 01/18/2012
BoatTEST Newsletter January 18, 2012 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- Chaparral H2O 18 Sport
- Sea Ray 470 Sundancer
- Bayliner 175 BR
- MJM 36z
- Yamaha VX Deluxe
- Prestige 500S
- Rampage 41 Express
- Sun Tracker Regency PB 250
- Volvo Penta DPS
- Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW
- PowerTech Propellers
- Shurhold Products
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course on DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

New Chaparral
H2O 18 Sport:
Back to Basics

Chaparral H2O 18 Sport
With a LOA of 18'4" (5.59 m) and a beam of 7'6" (2.29 m) the H2O 18 Sport is easy to transport on the included trailer. Thinking of taking your boat on vacation with you?

It's not often that we see a builder of popular boats take a step back and create a more affordable line, but that's exactly what has taken place at Chaparral.  The new H2O series is not a stripped down version of a bigger Chaparral, but rather an all-new boat from the keel up, designed specifically to meet the needs of many boaters in these times.  Two boats make up the new H2O Series, and both are available in Sport and Ski & Fish models. We recently tested the 18 Sport, the smaller of the two models. Let’s see what our captain discovered. Full report...

Request factory price quote

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Test Video

Sea Ray 470 Sundancer:
Setting A New Benchmark For Sea Ray

Sea Ray 470 Sundancer
A wet bar aft with lots of seating both under cover and on the transom makes the boat a fun place to hang out for the whole crew, adults and kids alike.

The Sea Ray 470 Sundancer is an all-new design from the keel to the top of its coupe hardtop: she has Zeus pod drives in tunnels, an extensive list of standard equipment, and refined exterior styling. Port lights are larger and more numerous and living space and headroom below are both more generous due to the pod drives. Most remarkable in our view is the cabinetry work and fit-and-finish below which sets a new benchmark for Sea Ray. Our test of the new 470 Sundancer reveals her performance and fuel consumption with the pod drives. More...

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Test Video

Bayliner 175 BR:
Good Things, Small Package

Bayliner 175 BR
Because she's not a large boat, the 175 BR has outstanding portability along with her sportiness.

The 175 BR has been a great seller for Bayliner, and for this new model year, they've added some refinements, and now even offer some interesting optional upgrades. We tested the latest model equipped with the "Flight Series" package that added looks and wakeboard capability.  To see exactly how she would perform when wakeboarding, we tested her with a 200 lb. (90.7 kg) dude in tow. See how she performed...

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Operational Video

MJM 36z:
A Look at the Operational Points

MJM 36z
We got our first look of the 36z at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show where she stood out from the more conventional downeast cruisers.

When famed J/Boats sailboat founder Bob Johnstone went looking for a good looking, versatile powerboat, and couldn't find it on the market, what did he do? He simply created his own. The result is the fuel-efficient, downeast line of MJM Yachts, designed by Doug Zurn and built hi-tech by Mark Lindsay's Boston Boatworks. Today we'll take a look at some of the finer points that make the 36z so ideal for discerning yachtsmen and yachtswomen. Only for connoisseurs for the finer things in nautical life...

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Test Video

Yamaha VX Deluxe:
Power and Economy

Yamaha VX Deluxe
The hull has been stretched to give better comfort at the handlebars as well as better positioning of your feet. Note the trademark Yamaha waterspout at the stern for better visibility.

Though not equipped with a supercharger, the 1052cc engine in the Yamaha VX Deluxe gave us a 0-30 time of only 2.6 seconds -- which means this watercraft has the power you expect to ensure a fun day on the water. Designed so you can bring along one or two passengers, we found the VX Deluxe handled very well in tight turns, had a smooth ride over light chop and was easy to whip around and just have a lot of fun with. All this aside, one of the best features in our opinion is that her starting price is $9,299.00, minus a trailer. Hop on and squeeze the throttle here...

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Test Video

Prestige 500S:
Smooth and Quiet Cruising

Prestige 500S
Our test boat had a LOA of 49'10" (15.2 m) and a beam of 14'9" (4.5 m). Top speed was
nearly 30 kts.

When we tested the 500S we noticed that she had a deceptively quiet and smooth ride and very nearly eliminated the feeling of motion as we accelerated through the power curve. Her IPS 600's kept her turns docile enough to maintain comfort throughout. The cockpit joystick control station and bow thruster made tight docking a complete non-event. And because it's a Prestige, affordability is built-in. Our full test video reveals what a good handling boat she is, so let's take a look. Is she a liveaboard, a weekend entertaining platform, a coastal cruiser -- or all of the above?

Request a test drive

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Sea Trial Video

Rampage 41 Express:
How Does She Handle Offshore?

Rampage 41 Express
With no bow thruster or pods, we thought we'd have a tough time threading the needle out of a recent boat show in the Rampage 41.  Then we remembered that we used to maneuver inboard boats much larger that this one in the "PJ" (Pre-Joystick) days.

When we set out to do a performance test on the Rampage 41 the wind and sea conditions prevented us from ideal speed runs. But since this is a boat made to take stinky conditions, we headed out anyway, even while many others were turning around. So while we couldn't get to full speed, we did discover just how well this boat handles in snotty weather. Come with us out to the Gulf Stream and see. Why are all those other boats heading back in?

Request a brochure

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Test Video

Sun Tracker Regency Party Barge 250 XP3:
A Performance and Comfort Mix

Sun Tracker Regency Party Barge 250 XP3
With a top speed of 50.4 mph, and a comfortable balance of seating to space, this 250 XP3 makes a good combination of performance and comfort.

It's easy to add comfy seats to a pontoon boat and call it luxurious, but Sun Tracker really does take it to another level with so many finer touches. And with the sporty performance of the triple XP3 tubes and their lifting strakes, we can't imagine a day on the water without pulling out the water toys. With the convenient changing room, she even makes transitions from play time to party time a breeze. Let's see the full video...

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Test Video

Volvo Penta's DPS:
Just Hold it Right There!

Volvo Penta DPS
The real beauty of this Dynamic Positioning System is that it's activated by a button on the joystick, which means no additional holes drilled into your panel. Even the display will likely already be there.

At first glance the Volvo Penta Dynamic Positioning System may seem like something you'd only use once in a great while, but once you get onboard a boat equipped with it, you'll be surprised at just how convenient this feature is. Whether holding for a bridge, prepping the lines and fenders before coming in to the dock, or even waiting for the fuel dock to open up, that little button may become the most used feature on your next boat. Let's take a look at how it works and why it may become your next best friend. And while we're at it, we'll discuss when not to use it...

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Test Video

Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW:
Tournament Features, Plenty of Comfort

Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW
The nimble Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW is built to handle the backwaters and bayous where some of the biggest fish -- and the occasional obstacle -- are found.

Avid anglers tell us they have many requirements when researching a new fishing rig: they want it to be rugged, comfortable and have the features of a tournament model, without the tournament price. Our test of the Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW showed this model had all of these attributes as well as some respectable performance numbers. With only a 50-hp outboard we recorded a top end speed of 34.3 mph and if your fishing spot is a ways off, the 175 has a max range of 144 miles. Take a look at the video and full test results for all the numbers in between and see why, in our opinion, this model deserves your attention. More...

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Proper Props

4-Blades For Towing Power

Chances are your sterndrive sportboat came with a three-blade prop -- they are cheaper and faster than a four-blade. But will they get the job done?

Many people running boats with 3-blade props struggle in towing situations. In some cases they have to get Mom and the kids in the bow just to get the boat on plane, sometimes the boat keeps falling off plane when it is slowed down for the skier, and sometimes the boat has to be going so fast to get portly Paul up on his slalom ski he is no longer at the end of the tow rope. All of these scenarios and more are typical of the disadvantages of having a 3-blade prop on a sterndrive lower unit when towing. Here's how to give your boat some towing mojo...

Get started with the Prop Worksheet...


Shurhold Contest:
Ask A Question/Get Lucky

Shurhold Products
Shurhold's latest promotion gives you a chance to win some supplies for simply asking a question.

Taking a page from the Socrates marketing manual, Shurhold is inviting our readers to ask a question about keeping a boat clean in its new "Clean-N-Simple" promotional contest. Winning questions will be answered in short video clips that Shurhold will make available later. The $500 Detailer's Dream Pack includes many tested and reviewed items by BoatTEST, such as Shurhold's award-winning Dual Action Polisher, a Pro Polish Pad, a Buff Magic Pad, a Microfiber Bonnet, Brite Wash Buff, Magic ProPolish, a Deck Brush and more... Everything you need to clean and care for your vessel is included. For complete details and to enter to win...

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's Smart Boating DVD Course

Smart Boating
Sometimes it's not what you know, but what you've forgotten. We have the perfect solution for you. Smart Boating, because safe boating just isn't enough.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about's Smart 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 course available...period. Order here...

Watch the trailer...

Visit us on Facebook and "like" us to see the latest, plus some behind the scenes looks.

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Lesson of the Week

PWC Safe Operation Tips - Part III

Lesson of the Week Smart Boating
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 --

To order all lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

“Practice safe boating -- always use a condiment.” – C. Dorman

Second Place

“The hot dog is a nice, but most trade up to the bratwurst within 2 years.” – M. Burton

Third Place

“Sure it is unsinkable, fat floats on water.”
– J. Spijker

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On Here?

WIGOH 1/18/12

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