Nitro Z-6 // Premier 290 // Boston Whaler 350 // Hatteras 60 - 04/24/2013
BoatTEST Newsletter April 24, 2013 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
- Formula 353 FAS³Tech
- Bayliner Element
- Beneteau GT 49 Fly
- Boston Whaler 350 Outrage
- MJM 40z
- Premier 290 Grand Isle
- Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan
- Nitro Z-6
- Robalo R180
- Bennington 2275 RCW
- Sea Ray 190 Sport
- Beneteau First 20
- Austin Parker 42 Open
- Hatteras 60 Motor Yacht
- Boardwalk Marina
- Shurhold Products
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Formula 353 FAS³Tech:
The Inside Story

Formula 353
The 353 FAS³Tech has a LOA of 35’3” and a beam of 8’3”. She’s fast, but Formula decided not to be the fastest. Instead, the difference is in the fit-and-finish.

In the competitive world of “Go-Fast” boats speed was the great divider. But Formula has re-written the rules and taken a different tack. Imron paint and graphics, carbon fiber panels, Ultraleather upholstery... all the ingredients that we’ve come to expect from a premium brand are in this 353 FAS³Tech. Formula "Go Fast" boats are in a class by themselves. More...

Ask a handling question

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Test Video

Bayliner Element:
Capable, Fun, Affordable

Bayliner Element
The Bayliner Element represents a completely new design from a company well-known for its affordable boats. See how she handled when we ran into some rough water on test day.

Bayliner has created an entirely new design as its entry-level boat. The Element is simple and straightforward and we think an ideal package for anyone who wants to get into boating or return to boating with ease and without breaking the bank. Our full test brought out the strengths and weaknesses of the Element showing this little boat has more than just a cool name. Base MSRP: $13,474. More...

Tell the builder - should they build a bigger Element?

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Test Video

Beneteau GT 49 Fly:
Pick 2 or 3 Staterooms

Beneteau GT 49 Fly
The Gran Turismo 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.

One thing we’ve learned from the design team at Beneteau is that they have a knack for getting it right. The GT 49 is offered with or without a flying bridge, and in a two or three stateroom version. She’s also among the best handling boats in class that we’ve tested, and her ergonomics at the helm are spot on. Let’s get underway...

Request a brochure

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New Test Video

Boston Whaler 350 Outrage:
We Test Her with 900-HP!

Boston Whaler 350 Outrage
At 35’6” (10.82 m) LOA and 10’10” beam, this new 350 Outrage joins the lineup and sits just under the flagship in the eight-boat Outrage series.

Boston Whaler has filled a gap in the Outrage lineup between its 320 and 370 with the new, much-anticipated 350 Outrage. She’s loaded with amenities that speak of her blue water fishing-machine heritage, while at the same time providing comfortable features that allow her to appeal to the whole family. She's powered by triple Mercury 300-hp engines. More...

Boston Whaler Factory Boston Whaler factory video.

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Features Video

MJM 40z:
The "Cruiser" Re-defined

MJM 40z
Look at the mirror-like shine on the MJM 40z's hull -- that didn't happen by accident.

Too often we see "cruising boats" whose only real claim to cruising is two staterooms. Well, with all due respect, we think it takes a few more ingredients than that to make a certifiable cruising yacht. The MJM 40z can easily be operated single handed, and she’s one of the strongest-built boats we’ve come across in class. Let’s take a look at what it takes to be a legitimate "cruiser" and not just a one-trick pony. More...

Set up a sea trial

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Snapshot Review

Premier 290 Grand Isle:
With 10' Beam, A 290 Sq. Ft. Deck

Premier 290 Grand Isle
The Premier 290 Grand Isle SL with the optional 10' (3.04 m) beam must be one of the largest production toons on the water. The PTX version weighs 3,700 lbs. (1,681 kgs.).

Premier is one of the most innovative toon makers and with the 290 Grand Isle SL with the optional 10' (3.04 m) beam she could hold a small orchestra. This triple-toon has a rated capacity of 18 people, so that is a good start. Her outside tube diameter is 25" and in the PTX high-performance version her center toon is 36" and has a pad. With enough outboard power strapped to her stern she can also scoot. More...

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Features Video

Meridian 541 Sedan:
Marching to a Different Drummer

Meridian 541 Sedan
At 53’10” LOA this Meridian 541 Sedan has its own special docking system that is fool-proof even for small boat operators moving up. Her clever interior layout pays off in several ways.

This 541 Sedan is yet another example of how the Meridian design team throws convention out the window and marches to the beat of its own drum. Put the salon aft? Not so fast. The engines need to be further aft? Who says? People don’t want flying bridge boats, they want express cruisers. We’ll see about that. Pods are needed for a joystick. Not so. With this sort of out of the box thinking Meridian Yachts sells boats as fast as it can build them. So let’s step aboard and see just what it is that separates this 541 Sedan from all others... besides the attractive price. More...

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Captain's Report

Nitro Z-6:
Full Fishing Features Under $20k

Nitro Z-6
The Z series of bass boats have all of the ingredients needed for local tournament level fishing, while keeping the price manageable. This Z-6 includes a trailer and a 115-hp OptiMax.

While we can’t guarantee that the Nitro Z-6 will raise fish better than other bass boats, we can say with confidence that it will do it for a lot less money than most others in class. Nitro has built a solid reputation for getting more people on the fish for less money, in turn making it one of the best selling brands on the market. Our full report goes over what makes this a pro choice for local tournament level fishing. More...

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Features Video

Robalo R180:
More Than a Pretty Face

Robalo R180
Our test Robalo R180 had a 115-hp Yamaha 4-stroke on the transom, but she can handle up to 150-hp.

Robalo created the R180 to be an affordable fishing platform that is also loaded beyond what we typically see in a starter boat. She’s got stainless steel everywhere, powder-coated rails on the leaning post, and high freeboard for safety outside the harbor. And with a base price of just over $26k, she’s strikes right at the heart of where it matters most. Find out about her features...

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Captain's Report

Bennington 2275 RCW:
For Genteel Entertaining or Watersports

Bennington 2275 RCW
The Bennington 2275 RCW is a large toon designed like all toons for entertaining, but with the addition of a large outboard she can also be a watersports monster.

The mission of Bennington’s 2275 RCW is to be a versatile and luxurious platform for both entertaining and watersports. When it comes to towing, a triple-toon with a big outboard is the best way to go. Bennington offers an optional elliptical tube for its toons, something that is quite unusual in class. Find out more...

Request a brochure

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Test Video

Sea Ray 190 Sport:
Upscale Entry-Level Sportboat

Sea Ray 190 Sport
Sea Ray has pulled out all the stops with up-market features on the 190 Sport.

"Entry-level" and "upscale" are often a contradiction in terms, but the design team at Sea Ray knows that just because someone lives on a small body of water it doesn’t mean that they want a Spartan boat. The 190 Sport has a level of amenities and standard features that make us look twice. Her price at around $31K even includes a color-matched painted trailer. We tested her with a standard 135-hp engine that should be adequate unless aggressive watersports are planned. In that case, the 220-hp engine option should bring her to speeds in the low to mid 50s. Let’s look at the video test and review...

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Captain's Report

Beneteau First 20:
A Go-Anywhere, Anytime Sailboat

Beneteau First 20
The new 20'6" (6.25 m) First 20 is intended for those boaters who want to sail most anywhere there's a launch ramp.

One of the great things about sailing is it's all about the pleasure of being on the water...and, it is as quiet as the wind. With a sailboat it's possible to travel all day and not spend a dime on fuel. When it comes to speed, sailboats are in a different world. It's amazing how 7 knots on a small sailboat can be as thrilling as 50 knots on a large powerboat. Beneteau's First 20 is easy to sail, economical to operate, and surprisingly low-cost to buy. (And she comes with a small outboard engine, just in case.) More...

Request digital brochure

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Captain's Report

Austin Parker 42 Open:
Luxury Cruising Italian Style

Austin Parker 42 Open
The Austin Parker 42 Open incorporates old world Italian styling with new world materials and layout for those passionate about cruising in luxury.

The 42 Open is an express cruiser designed to be an elegant day boat or a versatile family cruiser and comes in both single stateroom or twin cabin layouts. In the late 1990s Austin Parker was one of the very first Italian yards to start building an express cruiser strongly inspired by classic Maine lobster boat designs. Today, the company builds 7 different models ranging from 36’ to 72’ (10.97 to 21.94 m), all with a strong family resemblance. More...

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Features Video

Hatteras 60 Motor Yacht:
A "Country Kitchen" in a Large Yacht

Hatteras 60 Motor Yacht
The Hatteras 60 Motor Yacht has a "country kitchen" which is a popular -- and practical -- configuration in large motoryachts.

Our video tour of the Hatteras Yachts 60 Motor Yacht shows thoughtful touches at every turn. For example, she can be ordered with or without a lower helm station, and the island in the galley eliminates the "dead-end" alley seen in conventional designs. Her African mahogany wood interior with dark Wenge trim is elegant and modern. Most important to us, the interior of the Hatteras 60 Motor Yacht looks stately and cozy. Our video highlights all of this and more...

Hatteras Yachts Factory Christopher Hughes explores the construction of a Hatteras Yacht.

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Boardwalk Marina:
For Excellent Full Service

Boardwalk Marina
Over 200 slips, a brand new fuel dock, and a 30,000 square foot facility are just a few of the features offered at the Boardwalk Marina in Stratford, CT. That's I-95 in the background.

The BoatTEST team travels all over in our efforts to test new boats and engines. Every once in a while we come across a dealer who goes the extra mile to help us and make our tests possible. The Boardwalk Marina in Stratford, CT is one of those dealers. Located on the Housatonic River, we have tested several boats at this location over the years and in touring the facility and talking with their customers, it is clear they deliver an excellent boating experience to them, as they have to us. This location offers a new state-of-the-art service center, over 200 slips, a restaurant, as well as boats and Yamaha WaveRunner rentals. Thank you, Boardwalk! Learn more...

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Shurhold Maintenance Tip:
Proper Care and Cleaning of Buffing Pads

Shurhold Products
Having the right tools for the job makes a big difference when cleaning your boat. Proper care of those tools is of paramount importance.

Just as you wouldn’t wax your car with a dirty buffing pad, so it goes with your boat. Dried dirt and wax will create a sandpaper-like effect that can seriously damage your boat’s finish. Of course there’s a right way and a wrong way to clean a buffing pad. Hint... spinning it against a screwdriver it not the correct way. Now, let’s see how it’s supposed to be done. More...

Use coupon code for free pad brush with any purchase over $20: fbb

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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.

Expert Boating

If Only They Had Watched’s
Boating Course

Smart Boating
Even the pros agree, the smart information in this course is perfect for every level of boater.'s 4-DVD video boating course is a painless way for newcomers to get up to speed, and old salts to remember all they have forgotten. It's the most complete boating video course available...period! Order here...

Watch the trailer...
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Lesson of the Week

Basic Rules of the Road: Part 2:
Give-Way and Stand-On Vessels

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover
Stand-on versus give-way vessel. You must get this one right every time.

This week Capt. Steve covers some basic rules of the road in these lessons and guidelines. You’ll learn about the right of way for stand-on vessels and corrective measures give-way vessels must make in order to avoid collisions. These are basic procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of’s Boating Course which is USCG-approved. 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

Ducky Winner

First Place

"Pull your boat over now! I got a bone to pick with you!" - C. Daley

Second Place

"Arriving by boat we'll be the hit of the party at the new dog park!" - M. Perkins

Third Place

"You're right! Working for Homeland Security IS better than guarding that junk yard!" - P. Miller

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 04/24/2013

You write the caption! Will you win the coveted "Ducky Award" for best caption?

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