After a year’s worth of testing more than a hundred new boats, our test team has seen a few that stand out from the pack. Naturally, after all this throttle time, our team has compared and contrasted the models and arrived at a consensus on our favorites for 2011.
This isn’t about perfection or a quota or a category. Nor is it simply about superlatives, such as largest, fastest or flashiest. Our judging criteria are consistent from year to year. How well does the boat meet the mission to which it was designed by the manufacturer? Does it do it with consideration to the safety standards in effect today? And has the manufacturer maintained a strong track record in owner satisfaction?
We admit that there are some subjective judgments in a process sprinkled with perils. But, at the end of a test, when we say to ourselves, “That is cool,” that’s a boat that will be in the nomination process — if not a winner.
Cabo 44 HTX
The hardtop enclosure aboard the 44 HTX eliminates that boaters’ bane — canvas. In doing so, it provides climate-controlled comfort, great looks and ventilation via sliding windows and an overhead hatch.
We also cheered the cockpit mezzanine, which allows five crew members — those not presently grasping a bent rod — to watch the battle without being underfoot, a neat trick in this size boat while retaining room to swing a fighting chair.
Steaming to the grounds, the 44 HTX paved a smooth road through five-footers in excess of 30 knots. Visibility from the helm is excellent — the best we’ve experienced aboard an express of this size.
Belowdecks, the staterooms are separated by the head, with its generous shower, instead of sharing a bulkhead. The arrangement enhances privacy, while the unique athwartship galley opens up the salon. The pièce de résistance? An optional “tackle room” in which to showcase your tackle and gear.
"Practical innovations driving the evolution of the open express with superior fishabaility and comfort" - Brent Barkley, program manager, Cabo Engineering
Replacing its venerable 45 with a fully enclosed helm express, Cabo delivered on its mission statement.