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2022 Reward 17

The Reward 17 joins retro styling with a smooth ride.

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The ride proves remarkably dry. Courtesy Reward Boats

Overview

Chris Ashley, founder of Reward Boats, says he hears one question often about this brand-new 17-foot runabout: What year was it built? And it’s no wonder. The boat’s narrow stance, two-seat cockpit and upright windshield surely belong to a bygone era. The rich, gloss-varnished red and bright-blonde two-tone mahogany deck make it seem like a certainty. Yet there isn’t a splinter of wood in the cored, vacuum-infused vinylester hull. Even the wooden deck is faux mahogany grain printed on polyester cloth and impregnated with resin, then protected with many coats of clear polyurethane.

Reward 17 helm
Operation is smooth thanks to the Livorsi electronic controls. Courtesy Reward Boats

In fact, the Reward 17’s lines look nothing like any specific-period antique runabout. The sheerline, gently rising from the plumb bow and then falling off aft of the cockpit into a rounded, reverse transom, suggests a classic convertible more than any boat—but is it an early 1960s Austin-Healey or a mid-’30s Ford Cabriolet? The boat’s features, from the windshield brackets replicated from 1950s Feather Craft aluminum fishing boats to the aft-view mirror borrowed from Ford’s ’32 coupe, are synchronous to no one time but remain harmonious nonetheless.

Reward 17 engine
A BRP 170 hp Rotax 1630 ACE engine supplies the power. Courtesy Reward Boats

Engine

That faceted image also reflects multidimensional performance. With its jet-pump propulsion, the BRP 170 hp Rotax 1630 ACE engine beneath the boot brings a modern PWC disposition when desired. Twist the Ongaro stainless-steel, two-spoke steering wheel and goose the Livorsi electronic throttle lever to slide backward into 180-degree bootlegger’s turns—something classic runabouts don’t do. Or lap the lake -leisurely and take in the passing scenery. Unlike hard-sprung convertibles, the boat’s sharp forefoot and 18-degree V aft smoothed waters roughened by 15 mph winds during our trials, while this low-slung sportster’s ride also proved remarkably dry. There’s a truckload of storage within the cavernous bow too. To continue the sports car analogy, the Reward 17 is equally at home running a rally course as it is rolling along Route 66.

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Reward 17 on the trailer
The Ongaro stainless-steel steering wheel is one of many fine touches. Courtesy Reward Boats

How We Tested

  • Engine: BRP Rotax 1630 ACE 170 hp
  • Drive/Prop: Standard Rotax jet pump/155 mm x 11-17 mm pitch stainless-steel impeller
  • Gear Ratio: 1.00:1  Fuel Load: 18 gal. Crew Weight: 400 lb.

High Points

  • A jet simplifies beaching—just be wary of ingesting weeds, debris or rocks into the jet pump in shallow water.
  • Indulge classic-boat yearnings without wood upkeep. BRP’s modern Rotax propulsion package also eliminates antique engine woes. 
  • Livorsi’s buttery-smooth electronic shift-and-throttle lever electrically positions BRP’s Intelligent Neutral and Reverse jet bucket. This allows full steering control while the boat remains precisely stationary in
    neutral, making it particularly nimble near the dock.

Low Points

  • Hull tends to porpoise. It would benefit from trim control—something the boatbuilder is contemplating.

Toughest Competitor

We know of no other jet-powered production runabouts with classic boat lines. A restored 1939 Chris-Craft Barrelback will set you back maybe $100,000, but it won’t offer the maneuverability provided by the Reward’s water jet.

Pricing and Specs

Price:$70,975 (with test power)
LOA:16’11”
Beam:5’1″
Draft (max):10.75″
Displacement (approx.):1,400 lb.
Transom Deadrise:18 degrees
Bridge Clearance:2’8″
Fuel Capacity:21 gal.
Max Horsepower:170
Available Power:BRP Rotax 1630 ACE 170 hp

Speed, Efficiency, Operation

Reward 17 performance data
Reward 17 Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

Reward Boats – Weston, Massachusetts; 978-330-7722; rewardboats.com

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