By Mike Milne
Big day boats, stylish pontoons and wakesurfing boats are the hottest new trends among new model launches for 2018, with outboards continuing to dominate the propulsion scene. A new Carver may give other mid-sized sterndrive-powered cruising boatbuilders a glimmer of hope, but new cruisers are still rare.
New fishing boats show that side of the market remains strong, but a couple of special edition packages indicate some anglers may be looking for style as well as substance.
On the big day-boat front, Boston Whaler’s Realm 350 sets a course for outboard-powered offshore adventure and the Chris-Craft Catalina 30 confirms that fishing-optional outings can be done in high style. The outboard-powered Regal 3300 confirms the day-boat trend and the outboard-powered Sea Ray SLX 400 takes it to new lengths.
Among new cruisers, the Carver C34 Coupe has sterndrive power, but Regal’s 33 XO is powered by twin outboards.
Pontoon builders continue to prove you can do almost anything on a ‘toon, as more high horsepower and twin-engine models hit the market. Both of SunCatcher’s new pontoons, for example, are tri-log versions capable of handling up to 250 hp. Sun Tracker also adds a new tri-log, and performance-pontoon pioneer Manitou increases the number of twin-outboard boats. Reportedly they are in high demand.
Luxury-oriented pontoons are also making style adjustments, adding fibreglass corners and panels for a more streamlined appearance. Sylvan’s new M-series promises a sleeker look and a raised-deck profile, while several pontoon builders are adding stylish black anodized railings and even black rub rails and tube side-walls.
In similar ways, fishing boatbuilders Alumacraft and Princecraft are offering dark or black special editions. For the most part, though, fishing boats remain focused on fairly specific angling missions.
Among PWC builders, only BRP has big news, introducing an all-new deep-V hull platform for its popular luxury and performance GTX and RXT lineups. The new stable ST3 hull and a re-configurable seat once again put BRP into the forefront of PWC innovation.
Watersports tow boats seemed to be moving in a similar fashion toward specialization in recent years, with wakeboarding as the main focus. The wave of new tow-oriented boats this year — from Campion, MasterCraft, Nautique, Moomba, Supra, Starcraft and Yamaha — have to do at least two things very well: wakeboarding and wake-surfing. And in Yamaha’s case, that even meant a new way of making waves.
Fishing boat specialist Alumacraft adds a new boat and a special equipment package to its 75-model lineup. The XB200 is a 20-foot welded bass boat and the Shadow Series package is based on the Competitor model lineup. Rated for outboards up to 200 hp, the XB200 is a moderate-V boat with plenty of deck space and storage room for serious anglers. There’s a 38-gallon recirculating livewell, plenty of dry storage forward, six dedicated rod-holders and an open slot for more. The optional Shadow package adds a grey-based colour scheme, plus upgrades including LED lighting and air-ride seats, to the 13- model Competitor series.
The new 35-foot 6-inch Boston Whaler Realm 350 is a luxurious offshore day-boat that defies many usual boating categories. It’s fine for fishing or diving but intended for comfortable day-cruises with sizeable groups. The hardtop gives the main cockpit, with seating for four, shelter from wind, sun and rain. There’s also a forward cockpit area with stretch-out lounge seating aft and a bench forward. A convertible V-berth/seating area and head belowdecks opens up the possibility of overnighting. Triple outboards provide plenty of power. Mercury Verado 300s are recommended but the power rating would allow up to three 350s. Expect smaller and larger Realm models to join the party.
From its location in Kelowna, B.C., on the shore of Okanagan Lake, Campion has a clear view of watersports trends. These days, wakesurfing is on the leading edge. With that in mind, Campion adds a third model to its Watersports series boats, powered by Volvo Penta’s inboard-outboard Forward Drive. According to Campion, the new 18-foot WS 18 is a capable all-round watersports performer and currently the smallest boat in the world equipped with a Forward Drive. The WS 20 and WS 23 are the other two boats in the Watersports Series and a 25-footer will be ready to launch at winter boat shows. Campion also unveils a unique development — a wraparound swim platform for outboard-powered boats. The platform is available for installation on 18-foot Chase 550 and Allante 545 models.
Following up on the introduction of two 52-footers last year, cruiser specialist Carver rolls out the new 34-foot C34 Coupe for 2018. In true Carver style, the new boat offers spacious accommodations and 6-foot 8-inch cabin headroom. There’s a well-equipped galley and convertible U-shaped dinette on the main level, with screened opening windows, a retractable sunroof and sliding glass doors leading aft. Down forward of the salon, there is a cabin with a queen-size berth and plenty of storage. There’s also an L-shaped convertible sofa on the lower level, plus a head with an enclosed shower stall.
After being introduced in Miami last winter, the Chris-Craft Catalina 30 hit the water last summer. It’s a 30-foot 6-inch day-boat with a sleek and stylish pilothouse, a pair of forward-facing loungers ahead of the centre console, convertible U-shaped seating and table in the aft cockpit, and a small cabin and head belowdecks. The pilothouse-style hardtop is mounted on windshield supports, for a sleek modern look; the upswept foredeck adds a classic touch to the sheerline. Power is provided by twin Mercury or Yamaha outboards up to 350 hp. Chris-Craft also adds hardtops for its Calypso 26 and Calypso 30 and the Launch 38 gets a curvy Euro Top hardtop. Chris-Craft promises more surprises at next February’s Miami International Boat show.
Aluminum fishing, hunting and pontoon specialist Crestliner introduces 11 new models in four boat series. The new Bass Hawk series — based on the Fish Hawk hull design — gives bass anglers more flexibility, with 35-gallon stern livewells, large bow and stern casting decks and locking storage for 15 rods. There’s a 17-foot 9-inch 1750 model with bucket seats and an 18-foot 9-inch 1850 model available either with bucket seats or a pedestal seats version with two aft jump seats. The layouts are also sure to appeal to muskie and multi-species anglers. The all-new Outreach V-bottom utility series has seven models ranging from 12 to16 feet. The new Retriever series for shallow-water anglers includes the 20-foot side-console SCHD and the 16- and 18-foot centre console tunnel-hull FCC boats. Crestliner also offers new upholstery, new seats in four boat series, improved canvas and wood-free transoms.
After introducing new 54- and 60-footers over the last couple of years, then the 50 Cantius in Miami last February, cruising yacht builder Cruisers Yachts introduces the new 42 Cantius at this fall’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The newest model in the series replaces the current 41 Cantius. A coupe-style design, the 42 Cantius has an overall length of 43 feet and a 13-foot 8-inch beam. It features a spacious open-air bow seating area, a well-lit salon and two private cabins belowdecks. Based in Oconto, Wisconsin, Cruisers builds a lineup of 12 express, coupe and flybridge yachts in lengths from 35 to 60 feet.
For 2018, aluminum boatbuilder G3 adds five all-new boats to its lineup of about 100 boats. The new Sportsman 16 bass boat is an addition to the Mod V series, positioned as a well-equipped entry-level bass boat. It has a full-length deck forward and a 33-gal divided livewell and plenty of tackle storage aft. Its longer sibling, the Sportsman 18, now includes Lowrance electronics. In the Angler V series of deep-V all-species boats, the Angler V21 has a new hull and improved interior layout, with a choice of carpet or vinyl flooring. For shallow-water anglers, G3 has three new Jon boats in its Gator Tough model lineup. The new 17 CC is a centre console with a 10-degree deadrise hull, the 16 DK is aimed at duck hunters and the 17 CCJ DLX has a centre console, tunnel hull and jet-drive Yamaha outboard.
Long-time recreational boatbuilder Larson has new outboard-powered 16- and 18-foot bowriders. The new 16-foot 2-inch Larson LX 160 OB replaces an earlier 160 model. While still aimed at entry-level buyers, the new 160 has increased freeboard, a deeper cockpit and a 115-hp rating. The new LX 185 OB is rated for up to 150 hp, has U-shaped aft cockpit bench seating and comes standard with a Rockford-Fosgate audio system. After using closed-mould VEC Technology to build its boats, Larson has reverted to traditional fibreglass layup. Along with LX bowriders, Larson builds pickle-fork sport boats, 17- to 20-foot fishing boats and two series of pontoon boats.
Backed by its reputation for building high-quality aluminum and fibreglass fishing boats, Lund jumped into the pontoon market last January, adding three 20- to 24-foot pontoon boats to its current fishing, hunting and crossover lines. For 2018, Lund sticks with fishing, launching two new models in its Impact line of multi-species boats — the new 1675 Impact XS and the 1775 Impact XS. Both boats have live wells fore and aft and offer a choice of side console or walk-through windshield. The 1675 is rated up to 90 hp, with a 20-gallon fuel tank and the 1775 has a 125-hp rating with a 27-gallon tank. Rod storage space in the 1775 is six inches longer. For family outings, there are optional bow cushions.
As an early leader in performance pontoons with its SHP (Sport Handling Performance) hulls, Manitou now has twin-engine options in both its Legacy and X-plode lines. For 2018, it adds a 27-footer to the 23- and 25-foot models currently in the X-plode series. Manitou also offers new colours including new beige and grey tones for vinyl and wall-skins. The new RSX floor plan with matching bench seating fore and aft is also available.
Already making waves with its 20-, 21-, and 23-foot Crossover boats, tow specialist MasterCraft adds the 22-foot 4-inch XT22 for 2018. With a pickle-fork bow and up to 2,700 lb of ballast, the new boat holds up to 16 passengers but also promises top performance for wakesurfing, wakeboarding and other watersports. Like other MasterCraft models, the XT22 can be equipped with Dockstar Handling System, a flanking rudder system that tames inboard V-drive’s close-quarters handling. For 2018, MasterCraft also offers three digitally controlled driving modes — drive, tow and chill — and makes the new easy-folding ZFT2 its base-model tower.
Billed as a big sibling to the V-drive Helix introduced in 2016, the 22-foot 6-inch Max is the newest addition to Moomba’s lineup for 2018. With standard ballast of up to 3,000 lb and Moomba’s Flow 2.0 Surf System, Max promises waves that will appeal to wakesurfers and wakeboarders. With an onboard capacity for 17 and plenty of seating — including convertible rear sliding seats — Max aims to be a crowd-pleaser.
For 2018, the new Super Air Nautique GS24 joins the GS multi-sport line of tow-boats aimed at the top three watersports: wakesurfing, wakeboarding and water-skiing. Powered by a V-drive inboard V-8, the GS 24 is 24-feet long with a 17-passenger capacity and 2,500 lb of ballast under the floorboards. With the Nautique Surf System with WAVEPLATE technology, the GS 24 can assume a bow-down position to flatten out wakes for skiers or get the stern down to create waves for wakeboarders and surfers. For 2018, Integrated Steering Assist system is available for better close-quarters handling; there are also new gelcoat and interior colours
Fishing specialist Polar Kraft has new 16- and 18-foot Kodiak models as well as a new centre-console Bay series. The Polar Kraft Kodiak 185 Pro is built on the same hull as the 18-foot FS (fish and ski model), but adopts the same fishing features found on the current 20-foot Pro. That means a forward bait bucket, and larger live well than the FS boat. The new Outlander 165 is a 16-foot 6-inch boat that joins 15- and 18-footers in the series of deep-V boats aimed at back-trolling anglers. The new Bay 186, 206 and 272 models are flat-bottomed centre-consoles favoured by many southern inland anglers.
For 2018, Quebec-based aluminum boatbuilder Princecraft adds seven new fishing boats and one new pontoon. There are also special editions, upgrades and equipment changes across many of its series lineups. There’s a new 18-footer in the Xpedition series of multi-species boats, joining the current 170 and the 200. The whole Xpedition lineup has been refreshed and a new optional matte black special edition is available. The entry-level DL series has six new models, including the 16-foot 6-inch Amarok and 19-foot Hudson, available in side console (SC) and full windshield (WS) versions, plus the 16-foot Resorter in side-console and tiller versions. Among Princecraft’s pontoon boats, the Vogue series — with 10 models from 23 to 20 feet with power options ranging up to 400 hp — gets a complete overhaul for 2018. There is a new colour, an all-new helm console, plus a Sport Edition and Platinum Edition. In the Quorum series of pontoons, the new 25 RL model has a layout with more emphasis on the aft section, plus styling revamps including black-painted railings. The Ventura series of deck boats gets a new fibreglass helm console plus two colour choices.
There are five new models in the Ranger lineup, including three bass boats and one each in the Multi-Species and Fish-n-Play lineups. The three new L series bass boats include the 20-foot 9-inch Z520L Comanche and the 21-foot 7-inch Z521L Comanche, plus a specially equipped Z521L ICON Edition marking Ranger’s 50th anniversary.
The new L models have new seats, LEC lighting, wraparound cockpit seats, premium upholstery and moulded-in footrests. In the bow, each boat has redesigned work stations with tool and drink holders and space for 12-inch electronic screens. The 20-foot 7-inch 2080MS Angler provides all the features anglers would expect in a Ranger, with a spacious layout and plenty of storage. The 2080MS runs on a Ranger Rite-Track hull, but also has a stainless-steel boarding ladder plus removable carpets to add comfort for family boating. The stylish 20-foot 7-inch Reata 2050MS has plenty of fishing equipment but adds family friendly features.
Florida-based Regal has two new 33-footers and one value-oriented watersports boat for 2018. With the cost of dedicated watersports boats often reaching the stratosphere, Regal positions its 19 Surf as a relatively affordable alternative that lets boaters add equipment later. It starts with Volvo Penta Forward Drive in a FasTrac hull, plus wave-shaping tabs controlled by the Regal Surf System. The 3300 is a 34-foot 2-inch sterndrive-powered day boat with a spacious cockpit and huge bow seating area, with a small cabin with head and quarter berth belowdecks. The 33 XO is a 34-foot 2-inch outboard-powered cruiser with a king-sized mid-cabin berth and a convertible forward cabin.
Adding to its sport boat lineup, Rinker launches two 25-footers — the sterndrive-powered Q5BR and outboard-powered Q5OB. Both boats are built on hulls developed from Rinker’s best-selling model, the Captiva 232. While the Q5BR is equipped with a sterndrive up to 350 hp, a 300-hp engine is recommended for the outboard version. Both boats have deep tub-style bow areas for safety under way and comfort for lounging.
Changes to the Sea-Doo lineup for 2018 bring one new entry-level Trixx model and seven new models in the luxury, performance and Wake series. There’s all-new deep-V ST3 hull platform for the four 155- to 300-hp PWCs in the GTX luxury lineup, the RXT 230 and RXT-X 300 performance offshore watercraft and the Wake 230 tow sports specialist. Promising even better rough-water performance than the venerable S3 hull it is replacing, the new ST3 hull is also one-inch wider for added stability under way or at rest. With easy-access front storage and a dedicated mobile phone compartment, the new platform also incorporates a re-configurable Ergolock seat, that easily pulls out to create space for lunching or lounging onboard. A cooler that combines with the seat to create a two-place picnic table is part of the new LinQ line of optional accessories that can be attached to back decks; there’s also a fuel caddy, cargo bag and ski pylon. The new 90-hp Spark Trixx 3-UP follows up on the success of the 2-UP freestyle-oriented Spark Trixx introduced for 2017. Sea-Doo also introduces a new integrated 100-watt Bluetooth-based audio system for fully waterproof tunes on the water.
Three new Sea Rays are set to launch at November’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat show: two super-sized, outboard-powered day boats and a special limited edition of the popular 50-foot Sundancer 510 hardtop express cruiser. The twin outboard-powered Sundancer 32 OB offers spacious seating on deck, with a large open bow compartment and a wetbar-equipped cockpit. Belowdecks, there’s a head and room for four to sleep. The twin outboard-powered SLX 400 OB also promises the best of day-boating with a spacious cockpit and transom entertainment zone, plus accommodations for four and a shower-equipped head belowdecks. A fold-down cockpit swim platform provides easy access to the water. The limited edition Sundancer 510 Signature shows that Sea Ray still knows how to meet dedicated cruisers’ needs. As well as providing bow lounge sunpad and hydraulic swim platform, it offers special paint schemes, bright interior spaces and a standard upgraded engine package.
With 13 new models for 2018, aluminum fishing boatbuilder Smoker Craft creates a no-frills Angler series, adds to its Pro Angler lineup and launches four new boats in the heavy-duty all-welded North American Angler series. The new Angler series includes the 14 Angler tiller model, 16 Angler tiller and side console versions, plus XL versions of each of the 16-footers. In the V-hull Pro Angler XL series, there are new 16-foot windshield and side console models, plus the 171 side console and a 182 windshield boat. Additions to the North American Angler series include new 1872 and 2072 Pro Sportsman models, both available with optional centre consoles. There is also a new 18 Phantom X-2 and 20 Phantom X-2. The new Phantoms have deep cockpits and dual-stage hull pads for fast hole shots and low planing speeds.
After introducing new 19- and 20-foot centre consoles for 2017, Stingray launches the outboard-powered 23-foot 236CR for 2018. The South Carolina boatbuilder also rolls out the new 20-foot 208LS bowrider and 208CR cuddy cabin. The 208 LS is a Sport Deck model, with expanded beam and more usable space in the cockpit and bow area, while the 208CR is a cuddy cabin version. Both boats have sterndrive power. In other new model year changes, Stingray drops the 198LS model and adds a new colour, Bavarian blue.
For 2018, Starcraft has 31 new models, including 13 new fibreglass outboard and sterndrive deck boat crossovers, a new eight-boat luxury pontoon line, another new pontoon boat and nine new aluminum fishing boats ranging from 14 to 18 feet long. On the fibreglass side, Starcraft adds five new outboard and three sterndrive models to its MDX deck boat line. There are also two new wakesurf-oriented SCX crossover I/O models and three new 22-foot Starstep I/O deck boats, also aimed at wakesurfers. In Starcraft’s pontoon boat lineups, the Majestic line has been eliminated and there’s a new luxury-oriented eight-boat SX line. The MX-25 ERG is a new addition to the MX lineup. Among Starcraft’s aluminum fishing boats, there are five new Patriot models from 14 to 16 feet, new dual- and side-console versions of the 178 Renegade, a dual-console 188 Renegade DC, plus a new 176 Titan DC. There are upgrades to Titan, Stealth and Fishmaster models.
Part of G3 Boats, SunCatcher has two new tri-log pontoons for 2018: a luxury performance 26-footer and a 22-foot fishing and cruising model. The Elite 326 SE has Yamaha outboard power up to 250 hp and a stern entertainment layout with plenty of luxurious seating. There are plenty of colour, upholstery and flooring choices and lighting onboard and underwater. The 22-foot 6-inch V322 FC is a Fish and Cruise model with high-back swivelling fishing chairs forward, a 10-gallon livewell, rod holders and plenty of storage. There’s a comfortable L-shaped seating area aft and a Yamaha outboard up to 225 hp on the transom.
For 2018, pontoon specialist SunChaser replaces its Classic series with Geneva 20, Geneva 22 and Geneva 24 models. The series has new furniture with three colour options, standard helm-side door and new Faria gauges. Full-height fence panels and an executive raised helm are optional. A Sport option package is available with black rails, rub rails and Bimini frame plus a raised helm, lifting strakes and performance shield. There are upgrades in the Eclipse and Traverse series. New teak weave and sea weave flooring colours, plus black anodized railings are available on all boats.
The new 2018 Sun Tracker SportFish 22 XP3 is a tri-log pontoon rated up to 200 hp and ready for speedy cruising. Its other specialty is fishing, with aft fishing chairs and a cushion-top 16-gallon livewell close at hand. For lounging and lunching, there is plenty of comfortable forward and midship seating. The new boat joins Sun Tracker’s 16 recreational and fishing pontoons from 16 to 26 feet.
The 23-foot 5-inch SL is Supra’s newest answer to towsports enthusiasts who want ideal wakes for wakeboarding and wakesurfing. On the SL, that translates into a choice of three V-drive V-8 engines, 3,500 lbs of ballast under the floor, and wakes created by the Swell Surf System with Supra Smart Plate and Supra Launch System. The SL also has the new FxONE Power Folding Tower as standard equipment and convenient storage for two surfboards in a transom locker.
After dropping its Mandalay line, pontoon specialist Sylvan launches the new luxury M-series, to include eight pontoons. In the Mirage lineup, there’s a new 23-foot 10-inch 822 Party Fish pontoon. The M-series, with M-5 and M-3 models, will have fibreglass corner pods and corner and gate caps, extruded rail caps and raised bow decks for a sleek, stylish pontoon look. They will come in side and dual console models, with lighted seat bases, recessed cup holders and optional arch towers for towing. Changes to some Mirage and S-Series boats include new sound systems and steering wheels, while all models have new colours available in teak weave and sea weave flooring, plus optional black anodized rails available.
The sterndrive 21-foot 700 is the new flagship of Tahoe’s fibreglass runabout lineup. With plenty of room, the boat has lounge-style wraparound seating in the bow compartment, plus comfortable seating in the main cockpit. The optional Bimini top has a drop-down changing curtain for privacy and there’s large swim platform for easy access to the water. The removable cooler will keep food and beverages handy and there’s in-floor storage for wakeboards and water toys, plus a dedicated anchor locker forward.
Two new modified-V boats and a centre-console jon boat join the Tracker aluminum lineup for 2018. The all-welded 19-foot Targa 19 is ready for any fish species or waters with three rod-boxes, plenty of space in storage lockers and fishing seats that can be moved to any of six pedestal bases. At 16-feet 8-inches, the Tracker Pro Guide V-165 WT is a fish and ski boat with bow and stern livewells as well as an optional ski tow pylon. For boaters who want durability and plenty of wide-open fishing space in a shallow-draft hull, there’s the centre console 21-foot five-inch Grizzly 2072 MVX CC, rated for up to 150 hp.
For 2018, Yamaha launches a new 21-foot twin-engine centre console sport boat while sticking with its current lineup of boats and 12-model lineup of WaveRunner personal watercraft. The new 210 FSH Sport joins the single-engine 190 FSH Sport in the centre console lineup. Powered by twin 1049-cc TR-1 High Output water jet engines, the 210 FSH Sport is aimed at boaters venturing into bigger waters. With fishing features like coaming pads, rod holders and a 26-gal live well, the 210 is also ideal for all-round family boating, with plenty of seating, easy access to the water aft and a centre console that lifts to create a curtained head or change compartment. The most exciting development for watersports fans, however, is Yamaha’s new SurfPointe technology, that promises to make its Wake series sport boats top wakesurfing contenders. Installed on Yamaha’s 21-foot 212X and 24-foot 242X boats, the SurfPointe technology calibrates and directs the boats’ waterjet nozzles to create a great surf with few effects on the boat’s handling or performance.
This article is featured in the Fall 2017 issue of Boats&Places.