When fellow tech team member Eric Colby told me he'd regularly run a Wellcraft Scarab 26 at 94 mph during his APBA racing career, I got excited. Why? Because Wellcraft's 26 Excalibur, built around the same hull form, was the boat I was testing the next morning.
The Excalibur is no raceboat. Oh, it's fast: We topped out at 60.1 mph powered by MerCruiser's now-discontinued 415-hp 502 MAG MPI Bravo One stern drive ($14,320, since replaced by the 425-hp 496 MAG HO). Accelerating to this fast-by-normal-human-standards speed, the boat gets up on its aft delta pad. You feel confident and sure. Turning? The Excalibur is as quick and almost as adept at direction changes as a politician. No surprise. When a hull form performs well at speeds over 90 mph, you can be sure it's free of quirks at 60.
But then, that's the raison d'être of this Wellcraft. The Excalibur is a kinder, gentler performance boat. Where raceboats are basically floating fuel tanks, the Excalibur offers a wetbar package ($2,760) with shorepower, a battery charger, a 12-volt outlet, and a transom shower. There's also L-shaped cockpit seating with ski stowage below and cozy accommodations belowdecks. There's even a portable MSD option ($150). No, it's not an aqua-camper, but you could overnight in it. Wellcraft has bet that boaters are willing to pay for a runabout with the ride and handling of a go-fast, but the company realizes that most won't want to sacrifice comfort or issue helmets to the crew before a cruise. To compensate, the Excalibur is outfitted with an innovative boarding system that we'd like to see on every boat with an aft sunpad.