Jeanneau Leader 36 // Volvo Penta Forward Drive // Sailfish 290 // 16 Reports - 07/01/2015
BoatTEST Newsletter July 1, 2015 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
15 year anniversary
- Bryant Boats Calandra
- Beneteau Gran Turismo 38
- Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW
- Volvo Penta Forward Drive
- Grady-White Express 330
- Ranger 2310 Bay Ranger
- Jeanneau Leader 36
- World Cat 295CC
- Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan
- Sea Ray 540 Sundancer
- Cruisers Yachts 350
- Four Winns H290
- Ocean Alexander 72
- Mako 204 CC
- Regal 2000 ESX
- Sailfish 290CC
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Lesson

Bryant Boats Calandra:
Roomy, Upscale 23'4" Bowrider

Bryant Boats Calandra
The Bryant Boats Calandra "feels" bigger than her dimensions, though she's clearly a very roomy bowrider, with a LOA of 23’4” (7.11 m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m) and a draft of 33” (84 cm).

Exceptional quality levels in upholstery materials and sewing plus heavy-duty hardware throughout distinguish the Bryant Calandra from many production runabouts. The swim platform is surrounded by a thick stainless steel grab rail not only protects the fiberglass but also adds a styling touch, and is a grip for those in the water. A storage/head compartment with sink in the port console has 4'1" (1.24 m) of headroom. More...

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Updated Test Video

Beneteau Gran Turismo 38:
Twin-Diesel I/Os in an Agile Express

Beneteau Gran Turismo 38
The Beneteau Gran Turismo 38 has the company's unique Air Step bottom design, which our test runs indicate, delivers better performance at WOT and at on-plane speeds.

The Beneteau Gran Turismo 38 offers an unusual power package: twin Volvo Penta D4 diesels with DP sterndrives. The system combines diesel safety and dependability with a standard joystick and the shallow water capabilities of an I/O. With twin 300s we reached a top speed of 34.7 kts at 3500 rpm. At that speed we were burning 39.7 gph for a range of 181 nautical miles with a 10% reserve. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm and 28.7 kts, where we had a 21.3 gph fuel burn and a range of 208 nautical miles. More...

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New Captain's Report

Volvo Penta Forward Drive:
Forward Engineering for Sterndrive Boats

Volvo Penta Forward Drive
A design somewhat similar to the pod drive systems for large yachts, the Volvo Penta Forward Drive is aimed at the towsports market, where it delivers added safety as well as quick hole shots and smart boat handling.

Volvo Penta's innovative Forward Drive puts the prop set ahead of the lower unit rather than in the traditional position behind. The system gives increased maneuverability, as well as moving the prop well away from the aft edge of the swim platform, a big plus for watersports fans. The counter-rotating props eliminate steering torque, as well as delivering a solid bite on the water at low speeds, a big benefit for maneuvering, particularly in reverse. More...

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New Captain's Report

Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW:
New Aluminum Bassing Machine

Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW
The new Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW delivers impressive performance with a 150-hp 4-stroke Mercury outboard, running a blazing 57.9 mph in our tests turning a 24" pitch propeller.

Thanks to the light weight of aluminum, plus the carefully-engineered hull design -- what Tracker calls the Power-Trac offset transom -- the Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW delivers performance that's competition for high-performance fiberglass bass boats with similar power. She approached mile-a-minute speeds with just 150 horsepower in our test runs. She's a fully-loaded bassing machine typical of those from the Tracker stable, with a 12-volt Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance Elite 3 sonar and an aerated livewell with timer among the standard features. More...

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New Features Video

Grady-White Express 330:
Long Range Family Fisherman

Grady-White Express 330
The elevated center-line helm station on the Grady-White Express 330 gives a good view over the bow, as well as providing added headroom below decks.

The Grady-White Express 330 comes fully-equipped for fishing as well as for overnight cruising. Features like the massive cool box stretching across the transom, a "tuna door" and a 45-gallon (170 L) aerated livewell mark this boat as a serious-as-it-gets offshore fisherman, ready for an extended trip to the Bahamas or pretty much anywhere else blue water anglers want to go. Family-friendly features include a hot/cold freshwater shower at the transom door, full galley with 6'2" (1.88 m) headroom, an optional cockpit grill and refrigerator, and sleeping accommodations for four. More...

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New Captain's Report

Ranger Boats 2310 Bay Ranger:
A Tournament Grade Bay Boat

Ranger Boats 2310 Bay Ranger
Ranger, famed as a bass boat company, also builds saltwater boats including the 2310 Bay Ranger, shown here with optional half-tower controls for improved fish-spotting visibility.

The Ranger 2310 Bay Ranger should be a good shallow water performer thanks to a draft of just 13.5'' (.34 m), yet with a 100'' (2.54 m) beam and a 23'4" (7.11 m) LOA, she's big enough to fish off the beaches for tarpon or stripers in good weather. The 9' (2.74 m) locking rod locker on the port side of the bow platform includes tubes to protect sensitive fly rod tips. The batteries and battery switch are in the leaning post behind the helm, not in the bilge at the transom -- this keeps them away from corrosive saltwater and also moves weight forward. More...

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Captain's Report

Jeanneau Leader 36:
A Sporty and Stylish Express

Jeanneau Leader 36
The cozy salon of the Jeanneau Leader 36 easily converts to become part of a roomy master stateroom for overnights.

The new Jeanneau Leader 36 features an unusual layout below decks: a salon open to the galley seats four to five people -- but much of this area converts into a large master stateroom with pocket doors to provide privacy. This boat has a hull designed by Michael Peters and is part of a new series of boats designed for short cruises with family and friends. More...

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Captain's Report

World Cat 295CC:
Roomy Catamaran w/ Plush Seating

World Cat 295CC
The World Cat 295CC helm seating is two-across, with the same level of comfort, fit-and-finish and eye appeal as the rest of the boat’s seating.

The World Cat 295CC offers forward seating space that compares to some sizeable yachts thanks to a 9'6" (2.90 m) beam carried almost all the way to the bow. The boat makes exceptional use of space in many other areas as well. For example, the horizontal rod holders are hidden behind the seat backs in the bow, and these compartments are lockable. As with all World Cats, the fine entry of the twin hulls delivers a soft, stable ride in rough water. More...

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Test Video

Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan:
A Weekender for Two Couples

Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan
The Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan is a comfortable-handling boat that easily accommodates two couples or a small family for either weekends or mini-vacations away from the home port.

The Meridian Yachts 391 Sedan makes a good transitional yacht for those moving up from day boats or bowriders. She's the right size for easy two-person boating, and very easy to handle around the docks with the integrated bow and stern thrusters. With twin 380-hp Cummins QSB 6.7L diesels, she topped out at 30 mph in our test runs, while best cruise was a bit surprising: she gets almost the same mpg at full speed as at 2500 rpm and 19.6 mph -- this is a boat that can get there at good speed without a huge fuel penalty. More...

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Captain's Report

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer:
Modern Interior w/ Classic Elegance

Sea Ray 540 Sundancer
Heavy use of dark cherry wood cabinetry, lighted where possible with opaque Shoji screen bulkheads, give the living area a look of elegance without being overly dark.

Greatly improved levels of fit-and-finish as well as material options make the Sea Ray 540 Sundancer notable in the large express cruiser class. With lots of beautifully-finished wood cabinetry, doors and trim throughout the living areas -- dark cherry, light cherry or light rift oak finishes are available. The forward bulkhead is an opaque Shoji screen made from a synthetic material rather than from paper. This gives the stateroom both a striking, modern appearance that's also classic in detailing, and the bulkheads do not block out light. More...

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Test Video

Cruisers Yachts 350 Express:
Express Cruiser with Sportboat Handling

Cruisers Yachts 350 Express
The Cruisers Yachts 350 is a well-built mid-size express. The signature Cruisers Yachts walkthrough windshield provides secure access to the foredeck.

The Cruisers Yachts 350 Express looks fast and she delivers good performance even with a moderate horsepower package. With a pair of 320-hp MerCruiser 6.2 L 377 MAGs turning a set of Bravo III outdrives, we reached a top speed of 41.9 mph at 4700 rpm. At that speed, we were burning a combined 47.7 gph while getting .9 miles per gallon for a range of 183 miles. Best cruise was at 3500 rpm where we were running at 27.3 mph, delivering a 23.1 gph fuel burn and getting 1.2 miles per gallon for a range of 247 miles. Best of all, she looks good on the water. More...

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Test Video

Four Winns H290:
Plush Bowrider with 9' Beam

Four Winns H290
A removable table forward makes a good place for a picnic lunch or evening cocktails aboard the Four Winns H290, which has lots more space up front than most bowriders thanks to a 9'5" (2.87 m) beam that carries well forward.

The roomy bow lounging area of the Four Winns H290 features seating versatility: an L-shaped seat to starboard that allows for the traditional lounge seating typically seen in sportboat bowriders. (The keyword here is "sportboat". Deckboats this size also have sufficient seating, but have a squared-off look and fuller bows.) Forward, that seating wraps across the bow allowing two-across seating while facing aft -- again something we don't often see in this size boat. Filler cushions create forward facing seating all the way across the bow as well as allowing for a full sun pad. An unusual Four Winns feature: seat backs that elevate to form headrests in the forward lounge seating. More...

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New Exterior Features Video

Ocean Alexander 72 Pilothouse:
Elegance on Three Levels

Ocean Alexander 72 Pilothouse
A wet bar with granite counter tops, a sink and refrigerator below, plus a flip-down flat screen TV are part of the amenities on the shaded flying bridge of the Ocean Alexander 72 Pilothouse.

The nearly 19’ (5.77 m) beam of the Ocean Alexander 72 Pilothouse is among the widest in class, allowing plenty of space on the flying bridge for entertaining large gatherings. A "sky lounge" version, fully enclosed and air conditioned, is optional. A broad sun lounge at the bow is accessed by broad teak side decks, protected by tall stainless steel rails. A third outside entertaining venue is on the aft deck, a large hardwood table with a built-in banquette aft and plenty of room for chairs to handle eight guests. More...

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Captain's Report

Mako 204 CC:
Compact Inshore Fishing CC

Mako 204 CC
The aerated livewell under the console seat on the Mako 204 CC holds 84 quarts (79 L). The blue gel coating is said to calm some types of bait and allow them to survive longer.

The Mako 204 CC has all the features that serious anglers look for, including a self-bailing cockpit, 80-quart (76 L) self-draining fishboxes and an 84-quart aerated livewell on the front of the console. The 18-degree deadrise is a fair compromise given that this vessel is designed primarily for inshore work. The 12'' (.30 m) draft makes her a capable shallow water performer. More...

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Test Video

Regal 2000 ESX:
Stylish, 20' Bowrider

Regal 2000 ESX
Striking graphics, multi-color interiors and options like the PowerTower arch make the Regal 2000 ESX difficult to ignore.

The Regal 2000 ESX can be categorized as an entry-level boat -- but with upmarket quality and options, including the most obvious, the PowerTower arch, which raises and lowers at the touch of a button. The sun pad spans the full aft deck, but the starboard cushion flips up to allow easy access to the swim platform. A cooler that is accessible from the platform is a plus. More...

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Test Video

Sailfish 290CC:
Blue Water Angler w/ Good Fit-and-Finish

Sailfish 290CC
Add cushions and the stowable table forward and the Sailfish 290CC offers lounging comfort similar to a larger bowrider, though her primary mission clearly is bluewater fishing.

The Sailfish 290CC that we tested delivered a comfortable ride at speed without spray hitting the windscreen in the relatively flat conditions we encountered during the test. Our test team found her also to be stable at rest and at trolling speeds, on what was a relatively calm day. Upholstery is thickly padded for comfort, encased in very heavy-grade vinyl for long life and the overall finish work was excellent. Our test captain particularly liked the optional helm chairs with flip-up bolsters and armrests. More...

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Where in the World?

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week
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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...

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Lesson of the Week

Rules of the Road:
Part 1

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover
This is the first lesson in's 73-lesson series covering the basic information all boaters should know.

Captain Steve covers some of the basic rules of the road in these lessons which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The boater will learn about lines of demarcation, traveling at safe speeds, how to determine the risk of collision. Part 1 is the first installment of a multi-part series on Basic Rules of the Road. The videos presented this week are part of’s Boating Course which is USCG-approved. Watch these video boating lessons every week on

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