Sea Fox 216 // Sea Ray 220 // Riviera 445 // MJM 50 // 13 Reviews - 06/05/2013
BoatTEST Newsletter June 5, 2013 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
- Formula 353 FAS³Tech
- Tracker Pro Team 175 TF
- Boston Whaler 270 Vantage
- Cruisers Sport Series 278
- Intrepid 375 Center Console
- Manitou 22 Aurora VP
- Meridian Yachts Factory
- Sea Fox 216 Traveler
- MJM 50z
- Monte Carlo Yachts 65
- Sun Tracker PB 254 XP3
- Robalo R207
- Sea Ray 220 Sundeck
- Riviera 445 SUV
- Volvo Penta V8-225
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Formula 353 FAS³Tech:
85.2 MPH WOT w/ an Ilmor MV8

Formula 353 FAS³Tech
To commemorate the new power offering, Formula rolled out an entirely new graphic design package for the 353 FAS³Tech and we think it’s nothing short of stunning.

Formula Boats recently agreed to become the test platform for a new engine from Ilmor Marine, the 570-hp 454 small block MV8. These new engines were designed to fill a huge gap in Ilmor's lineup between the catalyzed 522-hp V-8 and the 650 hp V-10 engines. Formula jumped at the chance to be the recipient of the first two engines and this 353 FAS³Tech seemed like the perfect platform, creating a competitively priced alternative to existing packages. After much anticipation, our test video is now ready for viewing. More...

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New Captain's Report

Tracker Pro Team 175 TF:
Ruggedly Constructed & Fully Equipped

Tracker Pro Team 175 TF
The Tracker Pro Team 175 TF has a LOA of 17’7” and can handle up to a 75-hp engine.

Tracker Boats Pro Team 175 TF is a feature-rich rig that is purpose-built for multi-species fishing. She’s fully equipped and ready for tournaments without having to dip into an options list to make it happen. But the big story is her quality build, something that is often forgotten because her price is so reasonable. More...

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Test Video

Boston Whaler 270 Vantage:
The First of a New Dual Console Series

Boston Whaler 270 Vantage
The Boston Whaler 270 Vantage had a top speed of 47.2 mph and a best cruise range of 294 miles during our test.

Boston Whaler's new 270 Vantage is part of a completely new lineup that brings a level of versatility that the builder has not offered in the past. She’s part bowrider, part fishing boat, part cruiser and all family fun. The new 270 Vantage blurs the line between the tasks seamlessly. Today we put her through a full sea trial video review to see how she handles and performs. More...

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Test Video

Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider:
Luxury Grand-Touring Sportboat

Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider
The CSS 278 BR is an uncommon sportboat featuring a round, deep conversation pit in the bow and striations molded into her hull sides that give her a fast, low appearance.

The Cruisers Sport Series (CSS) 278 BR has a 22-degree deadrise at the transom and high freeboard that makes her "big-water" capable, dry and comfortable. Her deep cockpits both forward and aft provide secure seating for youngsters, and her large seating areas both forward and aft with a table, make her inviting for adults on a evening cruise. Most surprising given her displacement of 6,150 lbs. (2,795 kgs.), is her WOT speed that we recorded of 49.3 mph powered by a single 320-hp MerCruiser engine. More...

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Features Video

Intrepid 375 CC:
For Connoisseurs Only

Intrepid 375 CC
With a top speed of 62 mph and outstanding handling qualities, the 375 CC is a serious offshore performer.

The Intrepid 375 CC is one of those boats that has to be seen in person to fully understand how far the company goes to create the best of the best. Her level of fit-and-finish is beyond premium, and there’s literally no customization off the table as far as Intrepid is concerned. Today we take a look at two versions, one for more casual cruising and personal fishing, and another for offshore tournament fishing. More...

Ask the builder a question

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Captain's Report

Manitou 22 Aurora VP:
High on Quality, Low on Fluff

Manitou 22 Aurora VP
The Manitou 22 Aurora VP has a LOA of 22’10” (6.96 m) allowing her to carry 11 persons.

The Manitou 22 Aurora VP answers the call for those looking for a quality built pontoon boat without having to pay for all the options and appointments that may not be needed. She comes with all the basics necessary for a fun day on the water, all packaged in a well-constructed boat upon which Manitou has built its reputation. The VP stands for "Value Performance" which has a lot to do with the configuration of the boat’s triple tubes. Overall, we think this is a good buy for people who aren’t looking for over-the-top features that only add to the cost and show-off appeal. More...

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Factory Video

Meridian Yachts' Construction:
Anatomy of a Motoryacht

Meridian Yachts Factory Tour
By looking at the internal organs and skeleton of a Meridian Yacht, we can take its measure.

Meridian Yachts has made quite a reputation for itself by building boats well-styled on the outside with creative layouts on the inside. But the question begs -- how are they built? Let’s step inside the factory and see how the components go together. More...

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Captain's Report

Sea Fox 216 Traveler:
A Family Affair

Sea Fox 216 Traveler
Sea Fox is dedicated to building well-styled, functional fishing and family boats that are easy on the check book, yet strongly built.

Several relatively young entrepreneurs in the Carolinas own Sea Fox. They all fish and boat off the Carolina coast and use their boats constantly. As a result they know first hand how a boat should be fitted out, where money needs to be spent and where it just goes for eyewash. Equally important, they all have a keen eye for what shape lines must take to create a beautiful boat. These men also want their boats to be affordable. One result of all this experience and aesthetic sensitivity is the Sea Fox 216 Traveler, a dual console boat made for fishing and family use of all kinds. More...

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New Boat

New MJM 50z:
A Downeaster with a Difference

MJM 50z
The MJM 50z comes with two ensuite staterooms and a galley down, or with a lower “Great Room” that converts to a 2nd ensuite stateroom.

There are several Downeast-styled boats on the market in the 48-50 foot range and they have all been basically marching to the same 2-cabin-2-head drummer. It is for that reason that MJM has introduced its new 50' (15.24 m) model -- to give boaters an important alternative. According to MJM, its new 50z has three different -- and important --"unique" sales propositions. Actually, we think there are many more advantages than three in the new MJM 50z for most cruising folks. Anyone thinking of a boat in this class might do well to take a look at this new, unusual design. More...

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Test Video

Monte Carlo Yachts 65:
We Put Her to the Test

Monte Carlo Yachts 65
Monte Carlo Yachts keeps putting out designs with beauty that is more than skin deep. Its yachts also have sea-kindly handling characteristics.

The latest launch from the Monte Carlo Yachts' shipyards has a lot of the same characteristics that have now served to define the brand. Her layout is spacious and flows gracefully from one entertainment venue to the next and her fit-and-finish is adorned with only the finest materials. Even at 65' we feel that this is still an owner/operated yacht, and that means anyone who purchases her will be very much interested in how she handles, and what performance can be expected. More...

Ask the test captain a question about the MCY 65

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New Boat

Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3:
Party Hearty and Still Perform?

Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3
At 27’5” (8.36 m) LOA, the Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3 is big enough to accommodate 15 persons, and with a max 250-hp rating she can cross over from a luxury entertainment venue to a watersports platform.

The Sun Tracker Party Barge 254 XP3 is the largest in Sun Tracker’s Regency Pontoon Party Barge four-boat lineup and she’s ready to party. The design team at Sun Tracker tells us that this is the company’s most luxurious model yet, and she’s also got the XP3 package. That means “Extra Performance” from three logs allowing her to seamlessly cross over from being the queen of the lake to a sporty watersports platform. More...

Brochure request

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Test Video

Robalo R207:
Not a One-Trick Pony

Robalo R207
With a LOA of 20’7” (6.55 m) and a beam of 8’4” (2.54 m) the Robalo R207 is a "do-anything" boat for coastal work.

It’s easy to say a boat is multi-faceted, but Robalo seems to have nailed the concept with the R207. She hits the sweet-spot in size range where she’s easily handled and travels well behind a light truck. On the water she serves as an appealing watersports platform while having the right characteristics of an easily hosed down fishing boat that has the freeboard to safely take her out into blue water. We also recorded good numbers out of her during our full test. More...

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New Test

Sea Ray 220 Sundeck:
Offered in Both OB and I/O

Sea Ray 220 Sundeck
The Sea Ray 220 Sundecks -- both sterndrive and outboard versions -- have a LOA of 20’ (6.1 m) and a beam of 8’4” (2.5 m). We tested the outboard model with a 250-hp Mercury Verado and reached a top speed of 53.4 mph.

Sea Ray continues to upgrade its lineup with boats that are more upscale and attention-to-detail oriented. The 220 Sundeck has the look and feel that sends a clear signal that the new trend is here to stay, and fans of the brand could not be happier. With this new model year some significant improvements have been added. More...

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New Captain's Report

Riviera 445 SUV:
Like an Aussie Beach House

Riviera 445 SUV
The Riviera 445 SUV has a LOA of 47'5" (14.46 m) and a length on deck of 44'8" (13.61 m), thus the "445" designation.

Riviera surveyed its owners and asked them what they wanted in a 45' boat and the answer is what appears above -- an express cruiser with an enclosed house, galley up, a large cockpit without fixed furniture, a long coach roof overhang for shade in the cockpit and classic Riviera styling. Inside, the designers wanted the boat to feel like an Aussie beach house. But that is only the beginning of the story because this is one of the most innovative express yachts we have seen in some time. More...

Ask the builder a question

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Test Video

Volvo Penta V8-225:
Longevity & Small Block Fuel Economy

Volvo Penta V8-225
The Volvo Penta V8-225 is one of two new engines recently developed that take advantage of advances in technology to bring a better performing 8-cylinder engine to the sterndrive market.

Volvo Penta’s new V8 engine delivers a number of advantages that boaters were demanding, and does it quite well. Normally, a 225-hp engine would be only a 6-cylinder, but by making this one a V8 it has added much more torque, better midrange performance, and as an added bonus, it burns cleaner than any of its predecessors. It’s also designed to fit into existing engine compartments where space is at a premium. More...

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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’s
Boating 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 anymore.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about'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. It's the most complete boating course available… period. Order here...

Watch the trailer...
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Lesson of the Week

How To Dock A Twin Inboard Boat

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover
Always check wind direction and current before docking. Once dockside, tie the bow line first, then the stern line.

This week Capt. Steve goes over six lessons and guidelines on basic boat handling and docking procedures. Learn why twins allow you to maneuver easier. Learn how to pivot the boat for close quarter maneuvering, move the boat sideways without a bow thruster, and how to back into a slip. These are basic rules 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

"It's amazing how BP disguises its oil rigs nowadays!" - R. Nelson

Second Place

"...and a 9.8 from the Russian judge! She REALLY stuck that landing!"
- S. Macpherson

Third Place

"Honey, did you drop my blue pills in the bilge again?" - J. Corey

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 06/05/2013

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