Benchmark Boats

The first day of the 2011 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show featured exciting boat debuts, and some serious marine technology.

Day One pounding the docks at the 2011 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show revealed more new boat model debuts than I've seen in the last three or four major shows combined. Your interest on the showroom floor, and commitment to the world's greatest sport has flushed many a builder with the confidence needed to devote money and resources to new product development. The boat show excitement is back.

Leaders of this charge include Rec Boat Holdings, parent of Four Winns, Glastron and Wellcraft, who besides rolling-out a fleet of new models for 2012, including the H210 already tested by yours truly, debuted a brand-spanking new Four Winns H230 here today.

The H230 mirrors Four Winns new look: a sleek sheerline, automotive style wrap windshield and a swim platform that's low to the water providing excellent access to and from the water. The aft cockpit entry via the gas-shock assisted opening cushion is as savvy a bit of engineering as you'll see at the show. Look for an upcoming review--but in the meantime, if you're at the show, head down to H-dock and see this new runabout for yourself. It's a benchmark boat.

Chris Fertig's Statement Marine 37 impressed us for other reasons, not the least of which is that Fertig intends to set a new record for sterndrive-powered craft with his Statement 37 in the Bermuda Challenge, an event sanctioned by Boating Magazine. Those of you following the Challenge will recall that Fertig had to abort his attempt at the record last month due to 14-foot seas at the halfway point between New York and Bermuda. A seasoned skipper, Fertig made the right call, exemplifying good seamanship, and headed for Delaware, despite having committed so much to that attempt.

Chris Fertig--the Bermuda Challenger himself at the helm of his Statement.

He's not done, though and promises to take on the Bermuda Challenge again in 2012. Meanwhile, he's touring with his Cummins Mercruiser powered Statement Marine 37 and offered us the chance to sea trial the very boat that brought Fertig and crew back safely from the teeth of a mid-ocean gale. We'll be publishing a test of our run, and urge you to stop by and see Fertig at the Cummins Marine Diesel dock at the show. Not only is he a heckuva guy, the boat is fitted with some truly unique systems including a shock-absorbing cockpit sole, and some of the most advanced propulsion and navigation gear you'll see anywhere.

CMD V-8 350-hp diesels drive this boat through Bravo Three XR sterndrives. Our seatrial today in rough conditions was awesome!

Other boats you won't want to miss for the innovation they incorporate include Cabo Yachts pod-driven 36, two new Chapparals; Sea Ray's new 410 Sundancer; Beneteau's new Gran Turismo line; Regal Boats new FasDeck; Intrepid Boats 327 Cuddy; and Boston Whaler's new 210 Montauk.

Boston Whaler's 210 Montauk made its North American debut at the 2011 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show.

The Lauderdale show is like the Smithsonian: you need more than one day for a thorough tour. But have no fear, if you can't make the show, or just cant see it all. Boating will be testing these and other boats, keeping you abreast of the industry's best.