Every year we Boating Tech Team members lock ourselves in a room, chug black coffee until our resin-soaked brains are ready to pop, and join in verbal battle to determine which new vessel deserves the honor of being named Boat of the Year. There's room for only one at the top, and as each editor makes his case for a favorite, arguments become hot enough to melt fiberglass. But this year there was no fighting-we were in and out in five minutes. Pursuit's LS 345 Drummond Runner is so groundbreaking, so trend-setting, and so unique that the decision was completely unanimous.
The most obvious feature that sets this boat apart from the other 150 or so we tested is its cockpit. Think of your home kitchen with its freestanding island counter. Now put that island in the LS 345 Drummond Runner's cockpit, sitting halfway in the forward end of the cockpit and halfway in the aft end of the bridgedeck. It dominates neither and serves both. The island incorporates a folding sunlounge aft and butts up to the helm seats forward, allowing the boat to reclaim seating once provided by the engine box on inboard boats of yesteryear. Yet there's no engine inside, just open space, which is used for the galley. There's a side-loading 2.6-cubic foot refrigerator, stainless-steel microwave, single-burner gas stove, freshwater sink, and stowage drawers with secure spots for dishes, flatware, and glasses. Not only does this make onboard cooking and eating an outdoors affair-which it should be on any day it isn't raining-it also frees up gobs of space in the main cabin.
Just imagine how much room you'd gain if you could move the galley out of your cruiser. The unexpected vacancy makes this 34'5" boat's cabin seem as spacious as one found on a 40-footer. Belowdecks you'll find a full-size V-berth, an unusually large enclosed head, a folding two-seat settee, and more elbow room than any competitor could hope to offer in a similar-size cabin.
Cruising on the LS 345 Drummond Runner is pure pleasure, thanks to an aggressive 241/2-degree deadrise hull that's backed up by resin-infused fiberglass stringers. Powered with twin 250-hp Yamaha F250 four-stroke outboards, our test boat hit 48.4 mph and went unchallenged by a nasty 2' bay chop. Drop it back to 4000 rpm and you'll be cruising at 30.7 mph while getting 1.6 mpg, which means you can travel for more than 400 miles before refueling. With one engine tilted up, you can still run at 16 mph, a completely respectable get-home speed. The boat also comes in a dedicated sportfishing version for hardcore anglers, on which the center island becomes a massive tackle station with a livewell.
For decades boatbuilders have been trying to cram 40' worth of boat into 35' of LOA. Until now, not one of them has figured out how to do it. But with the center-island cockpit design and the resulting gain in cabin space, Pursuit has managed the impossible. And for that, it's no contest-the LS 345 Drummond Runner is Boating Magazine's 2006 Boat of the Year.