Boat of the Year: Grady-White 330 Express

The Mission: To refine or redefine powerboats. The envelope please...

The 330 Express is the largest boat built by Grady-White and the first production boat ever to truly cross the divide between outboard-powered fishboat and inboard-powered battlewagon. This boat has the range, fuel economy, comfort, and fishing and cruising abilities of any serious inboard sportfish of comparable length. Yet, it also has the speed, interior volume, running angle, and ease of use of an outboard.

How did Grady-White cross the divide that so many builders have approached but never spanned? The first ingredient is attitude: This boat was designed for fishing-not to set speed records, look like a hot rod, or split the difference between cruiser and fishboat. Many outboard-powered boats over 30' are built with a narrow beam so they go as fast as possible for competitive angling. But the 330 Express has an 11'7" beam- about what you'd find on an inboard sportfish with the same 35'10" LOA. Fishing space isn't minimized-not by beam restrictions and not by trading cockpit space for cabin or lounging areas. There's room on this boat for the fishing accessories that other outboard owners can only dream about: A full standup rigging station with sink, fighting chair, 270-quart fishbox, and 45-gallon livewell all fit in the cockpit without crowding it.

The second ingredient required a major departure from Grady-White's normal construction techniques. Instead of wood-cored stringers, the 330 Express uses foam coring to keep the boat's weight low enough to accommodate the horsepower limitations of outboards. In many cases, lightweight construction techniques produce a boat that runs fast but takes a beating in heavy weather when compared to inboard-powered boats. Not so with the 330 Express. The Ray Hunt-designed hull is a perfect match to the 330 Express' size and weight. After a lengthy test, we were convinced that at comparable speeds, the 330 Express is as comfortable as an inboard-powered boat of the same size. Of course, when the seas are calm, the 330 Express leaves most inboards in its wake. We hit 44.1 mph, a speed unheard of on boats whose engines don't hang off the stern.

But there's more to this story. An extension to the dinette shoots forward underneath the V-berth, creating legroom and enabling the dinette to transform into a full-length berth. Also, consider the livewell: Instead of a single inlet, it has a dozen miniature ones evenly spaced top to bottom. Such uniform water flow eliminates dead spots.

Vision, creativity, and attention to detail embrace the 330 Express in a unique package. So, for 2001, we think it's natural to call the Grady-White 330 Express-the world's first true outboard battlewagon-our Boat of the Year.