Campion 545: Sheer Joy

Campion's 545 is fast, fun, and beautifully finished.

Skipping at 48 mph across British Columbia's Lake Okanagan in Campion's new 545 reminds me that you don't need a big boat or a Caribbean destination to have fun on the water. All you have to do is run a fine-riding 18-footer for all its worth. And the 545 fits the bill.

Its Apex hullform is a Kevlar-reinforced V-shape that features reversed chines and a keelpad - a flat area - just forward of the transom. This design softens the ride in choppy waters, provides blisteringly quick holeshots, and remains stable during high-speed maneuvers. Just try taking your crew through some 2-G turns - they'll be grinning, not grimacing, from ear to ear. And thanks to MerCruiser's new side-mount control box, docking or putting the Campion back on the trailer is a snap. This new shifter features a very positive neutral d-tente, so there's no question of whether you're still in gear. Also, trimming the drive up to the trailering position no longer requires fumbling for a separate button on the handle's underside. After shutting down the 210-hp MerCruiser 4.3L EFI Alpha stern drive ($3,986) powering our test boat, we simply depressed the thumb switch on the handle a second time once the trim limit was reached and the drive unit rose to the protective trailering position. Check out Crownline's 180 ($17,163 powered like our test boat) and you'll find the same user-friendly control box.

Of course, bowriders like the 545 are as much about style and comfort as performance and handling. The 545 scored high marks here, too. Its futuristic styling is sure to turn heads. Note the detail with which the docking lights are so unobtrusively melded into the 545's sheerline. Inside, the cockpit is fiberglass lined for ease of maintenance and longevity. Snap-in carpet will cost you $316.

Forward, the bow lounge allows two six-footers to stretch out or three adults to sit comfortably. The swivel helm chairs provided excellent visibility while running and, like the aft lounge, were comfortable and well constructed. There's a stowage locker in the sole that will accommodate a ski but not a wakeboard. A board might fit beneath the aft lounge, but we'd rather see the in-sole locker enlarged a tad, given that wakeboarding is arguably more popular than skiing these days.

The swim platform is wide and sports a three-step, stainless-steel boarding ladder; an ice chest is built in to the cockpit; and our test boat cruised to tunes blaring from Clarion's XMD2 CD/FM/cassette stereo with four speakers. Rock and ride.

LAST WORD. Fast, fun, and beautifully finished.

LOA..........18'0" ** **

Beam ..........7'6" ** **

Draft..........2'4" ** **

Displacement (lbs., approx.) ..........2,400 ** **

Transom deadrise...19° ** **

Bridge clearance.....4'8" ****

Minimum cockpit depth ..........2'10" ****

Fuel capacity (gal.) 30 Price (w/o power) ..........$16,251 ****

Price (w/test power) ..........$20,237 ****

STANDARD POWER: Single 135-hp Volvo Penta 3.0 GS in-line-4 gasoline stern drive. ****

OPTIONAL POWER: Single MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline stern drive to 210 hp.

TEST BOAT POWER: Single 210-hp MerCruiser 4.3L EFI V-6 Alpha gasoline stern drive with 262 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke swinging a five-bladed 14 1/4" x 21" ss High Five prop through a 1.62:1 reduction. ****

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Built-in ice chest; ss swim ladder; halogen docking lights; 12vdc outlet; Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo with 4 speakers; sleeper seats; acrylic bow cover with post.