We Say: This mini go-fast delivers 60 mph thrills and great fit and finish, and fills a niche currently not served by builders of new boats. Enthusiasts seeking runabout rockets run restored classics like Glastron-Molinari’s 2+2 or the inimitable Donzi Sweet 16, which the Hornet 17 — ahem! — resembles.
Powered by a 220 hp MerCruiser sterndrive, the Hornet 17 arches onto plane and leaps to top speed. At speeds under 40 mph, the boat can be run in a carefree manner, cutting turns with confident stability.
At higher speeds, true performance boating characteristics come into play. Trimmed out and humming, the bow gets light and the steering critical, and you must “drive” every wave and turn. It flies level and lands soft. The hull features some rocker in its aft sections and, like those classic Donzis, runs better with some tab deployed, as much for extending the running surface as for trimming the bow.
I discovered a glove-fit hull-to-deck joint and great attention to detail. Hidden areas are sanded smooth to prevent splinters, and hatch covers are finished on both sides. It seats five on lounges with insulated stowage. Pop-up cleats and a retractable swim ladder are other highlights.
Who'd Want One: A great second boat, it’s an option for families considering multiple personal watercraft.
Another Choice: There’s no sterndrive-powered comparison. Try the outboard-powered Tuff 16 ($15,100 without power).
Bottom Line: $35,517 (base); hornetmarine.com