Carolina Skiff 19 // Tiara 31 // Riviera 445 // 14 Reports - 03/05/2014
BoatTEST Newsletter March 5, 2014 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
- Volvo Penta SDJS
- Prestige Wood Shop
- Formula 310 Bowrider
- Tigé RZR
- Sea Ray 250 SLX
- Carolina Skiff DLV 198
- Beneteau Gran Turismo 38
- Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 20
- Evinrude E-TEC 90 PS
- Grand Banks 50 East Bay SX
- Tiara 3100 Open
- Yamaha VX Cruiser
- Nitro Z-9
- Riviera 445 SUV
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson

Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick:
How to Use the VP Joystick

Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick
In a brand new video on joystick operation, Captain Steve shows the special features of the Volvo Penta system and how to use them.

Captain Steve has just made what we think is one of the best videos about joystick operation that we have ever seen. He gives practical advice about how to operate the Volvo Penta system to get maximum benefit from it. Since we have tested virtually all of the joysticks on the market, we can report that not all of them are the same. The Volvo Penta joystick has several unique features that we think make operation both easier and safer. More...

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New Factory Video

Prestige Wood Shop:
21st Century Boat Building

Prestige Wood Shop
Prestige's wood shop is a combination of modern robotic woodworking and old world craftsmanship.

When we first started testing Prestige boats several years ago we noted that the builder was selling them for significantly less money than their competition. But how? We found that in almost all cases they were lighter, thus saving the expense of some resin and wood, but that alone still did not account for all of the price differential. Now the final piece of the puzzle has fallen into place with our recent tour of the Prestige wood shop. It's possibly the most sophisticated in the industry, and that makes all of the difference. Visit the Prestige wood shop and see how it is done...

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New Captain's Report

Formula 310 Bowrider:
She Sizzles in the Sunshine

Formula 310 Bowrider
Formula has only been applying the new "Latte" hull color for the last two months. It compliments the earth-tone upholstery inside and makes this 310 Bowrider look like a million dollars, in our opinion.

The Formula 310 Bowrider that we recently tested on the west coast of Florida is one of the most spectacular-looking Formulas we have ever tested. She is a new model, with new styling details both inside and outside, but what really gives the 310 extra sizzle is her DuPont ChromaPremier "Latte" hull color covered with Imron clear coat which has been buffed to a high shine. In some of our photos the color looks almost bronze as the sunlight plays across the hull. More...

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Test Video

Tigé RZR:
Edgy Style and Room Inside

Tigé RZR
The 20' (6.09 m) Tigé RZR is a wakeboat that has about as much seating and sunning space as is possible on this size platform. The filler cushion comes out of the bow to transform this area from a large sunpad to conventional bow seating.

The Tigé RZR has been designed for high style on the water, roominess and versatility inside, and, of course, max wake-producing abilities. Further, Tigé's designers have carefully calibrated both the hull and its trailer to be easy to trailer and store. While Tigé is best known for its massive wake-making ability, because of its TAPS(2) attributes, she can also create a smooth wake for slalom skiers. More...

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New Captain's Report

Sea Ray 250 SLX:
A Merge of Styling and Function

Sea Ray 250 SLX
The Sea Ray 250 SLX is 26'6" (8.07 m) making her "Yacht Certified" when it comes to load-carrying capacity. That's good news when having all of the neighbor kids aboard.

Sea Ray's "SLX" designation signals that the builder has put "luxury" styling and up-graded materials into this model to raise her above the standard offerings on the market. Her helm instrument console is particularly impressive, and we like her slightly retro centerline cockpit access from the stern. Her "Quiet Ride" technology is impossible to see, but easy to hear. But we what we like most is her styling. More...

Quiet Ride video...

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New Captain's Report

Carolina Skiff DLV 198:
For Both Freshwater and Salt

Carolina Skiff DLV 198
The Carolina Skiff DLV 198 has a LOA of 19’ (5.79 m), and a beam of 96” (244 cm). Our test boat was powered by the new Evinrude E-TEC 90 H.O.

Carolina Skiffs can be seen at both recreational boat marinas and those populated predominately by workboats owned by commercial fishermen. The Carolina Skiff DLV 198 can handle hard fishing as proven by serious meat fishermen, but she can also convert instantly to a family-friendly boat with little more than a hose off and adding some cushions. And with the all-new Evinrude E-TEC 90 H.O. we made some interesting observations on the match-up during our recent test. More...

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Design and Style

Beneteau Gran Turismo 38:
Innovative Bottom Design Adds Speed

Beneteau Gran Turismo 38
Europeans like sleek-looking hardtop express cruisers with low-angled windshields much like what one might find on a Lamborghini.

One of the most important aspects of the Beneteau GT 38 are in fact the hardest to test -- her materials and bottom-shape improvements. Beneteau has possibly the most rigorous material requirements in the industry because they must be not only strong but light. Its wood joiner work must be not only aesthetically pleasing, but also robust and keep their shapes after rugged use. We think her AirStep hull is one of the best bottom concepts in the business, but it is hard to compare apples-to-apples so performance numbers must stand on their own. See them here...

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Captain's Report

Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 20 DLX:
Dayboat for the Whole Family

Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 20 DLX
The side gate is wide enough to be wheelchair accessible. Notice the spray fins at the front of the tubes for a drier ride. This one also has the optional trolling motor at the bow.

While the Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 20 DLX can be put into fishing action, we like to think of this boat catering to the opposite end of the spectrum, as well. The quiet times spent at slower speeds and enjoying the time spent on the water is an ideal tonic for the whole family. With a starting price of $15,995 (plus freight and prep), it’s almost enjoyable to pay for this little extravagance. She comes standard with a 40-hp Mercury BigFoot 4-stroke outboard. More...

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New Test Report

Evinrude E-TEC 90 Pontoon Series:
Re-Engineered Specially for Toons

Evinrude E-TEC 90 Pontoon Series
This Sylvan 20-something pontoon boat with twin tubes is powered by the new Evinrude E-TEC 90 Pontoon Series (PS) which has been specially designed for these type of boats only.

The mission of the Evinrude E-TEC 90 Pontoon Series is to improve the performance of twin-toon boats that are from 18' to 22' (5.4 to 6.7 m) long and weigh from 1,850 to 2,300 lbs. (840 to 1,045 kgs.). Its job is to provide fast hole shots, lots of electrical power, good idle and mid-range fuel-efficiency, as well as smooth, quiet operation. Further, the new engine also has to have superior stopping power -- an attribute lacking in most pontoon boats. See how Evinrude does it...

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Snapshot Review

Grand Banks 50 East Bay SX:
Making Cruising More Comfortable

Grand Banks 50 East Bay SX
Some people ask why buy the new 50 Eastbay when a used 49 Eastbay is much less expensive? Good question and the above drawings help with an answer.

Despite the many years that the Grand Banks organization has been building cruising boats, it has never been too proud to learn something new or to do something better. Over the years it has improved and upgraded virtually all of its models, making them more practical and owner-friendly in the process. A prime example of this is the all-new 50 Eastbay SX which we think is a considerable improvement on the old 49. Find out why...

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Snapshot Review

Tiara 3100 Open:
Dayboat for a Crowd/Cruiser for 2

Tiara 3100 Open
The Tiara 3100 Open is actually 36'4" (11.07 m) LOA from the bow pulpit to her swim platform -- the way most builders measure boats these days.

No Tiara boat comes cheap and the 3100 Open is no exception. This family-owned and run company is only interested in building good, strong boats that can handle most any condition offshore. That philosophy speaks to the versatility of the 3100 Open, which, as can be seen in the above image, comes with a standard hardtop. This vessel can be used for day-boat entertaining, and her optional foldaway cockpit seating is one of the most advanced in class, making it very cocktail party-friendly. Below she has a single island sleeping bed, settee, head and galley and plenty of room for a couple to live and cruise comfortably. More...

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Test Video

Yamaha VX Cruiser:
Lightweight, Quick, Fuel Efficient

Yamaha VX Cruiser
Our resident PWC expert Christopher Hughes wrings out the new Yamaha VX Cruiser to take the measure of this machine powered by a 110-hp 1052cc engine.

Even though the Yamaha VX Cruiser is priced at $9,799 she is not short on power and was tested at over 50 mph. Best cruise was 32.8 mph (52.8 kph), getting 8.85 miles per gallon (mpg) or 3.76 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving a cruising range of 147 miles (236.57 kilometers). Time from 0 to 30 of the Yamaha VX Cruiser was 2.3 seconds. Find out about her ergonomics...

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Test Video

Nitro Z-9:
Professional-Level Bass Boat

Nitro Z-9
The Rapid Planing System consists of this stepped transom providing quick planing times with minimal bow rise. We tested it and it works as advertised.

The Nitro Z-9 for 2014 is little short of a rocket ship. Powered by a Mercury OptiMax 250 Pro XS she had a time to plane of 2.6 seconds. Her WOT speed was 70.0 mph and best cruise was found at only 3000 rpms where she went 30.1 mph and got 6.08 miles to the gallon. We think that is noteworthy fuel economy for a 250-hp engine whether she is 2-stroke or 4-stroke. More...

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Snapshot Review

Riviera 445 SUV:
Day Cruiser Ready for Blue Water

Riviera 445 SUV
The swim platform of the Riviera 445 SUV is a natural extension of the large cockpit making the stern of the boat a gathering spot for all sorts of outdoor activities, including entertaining.

The Riviera 445 SUV is built on the same hull as the Riviera 43 Flybridge which has been in production since 2010. That means that this hull has proven itself over time in different places around the world. The hull is solid glass below the waterline and has a structural core above the waterline and in the deck. Because 50% of its boats are sold in Australia where open, blue water cruising is the norm, this boat must be built heavy and tough. She has two ensuite staterooms which sleep five people. 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
4-DVD Boating Course

Smart Boating
Sometimes it's not what you know, but what you've forgotten. We have the perfect solution for you.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about's Video 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 your 4-disc box set...

Watch the trailer...
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Lesson of the Week

Waterskiing Safety Tips

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover
When pulling a skier always have a minimum of three people on board. The third person’s job is to watch the water-skier at all times.

This week Captain Steve goes over seven lessons and guidelines on waterskiing safety and the laws boaters should abide by. Captain Steve will also go over some basic hand signals which allow the skier and observer to communicate most effectively. 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--, LLC
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All articles, Captain's Reports, video content or other material which appear on and in its newsletters are accurate and factual to the best knowledge of and its staff. All findings, beliefs, experiences, or endorsements presented are the honest opinions of or its contributors. In compliance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255 advises its readers that content that appears in its newsletter or on its website may have been produced for compensation or the prospect of future compensation. makes no claims for the veracity or motivation of reader comments, Owners’ Reports, and other contributions which are all clearly labeled as such.