Cruisers Sport Series 298

The Cruisers Sport Series 298 has a rock-solid ride and good looks.

Cruisers Sport Series 298

LOA: 29'0"
Beam: 8'6"
Draft (max): 3'4"
Displacement (approx.): 6,285 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees
Bridge Clearance: 5'4½"
Fuel Capacity: 68 gal.
Max Horsepower: 430
Available Power: Single MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline sterndrive engines to 430 hp

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Cruisers Sport Series 298

Like a young pitching prospect traded from team to team, the Cruisers Sport Series 298 has shown plenty of potential that’s never quite been realized. Once the property of two previous boatbuilders, the molds for the 298 landed in Oconto, Wisconsin, at KCS International, the parent company of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage. KCS ramped up the quality of the build, rigging and finish of these boats. They now turn the Cruisers Sport Series out as a team of contenders in the upper middle class sport-boat segment.

According to KCS, its due diligence revealed that these boats were good designs. The tooling is top-notch, and the hulls are well balanced and true. The acquisition thus gave KCS entry to the trailerable boat segment, from about 24 to 29 feet, at minimal cost. A thorough engineering analysis revealed opportunities to upgrade materials and processes, according to a KCS spokesperson, and many of those changes were on display when I tested the 298 in Oconto.

The spec sheet lists the 298 at 29 feet length overall, but that includes its standard swim platform extension. True hull length is 27 feet, a point to keep in mind when making comparisons. Its 8-foot-6-inch beam and enclosed-head compartment puts the 298 in the same league as big day boats like the Four Winns SL262, Chaparral 264 Sunesta and Sea Ray 250 SLX, each priced at about $105,000 with big-block power. Deadrise is 21 degrees, and the running surface is vented from the chine to the first strake. KCS engineers have updated the hull and deck lamination schedules from the previous five layers to seven alternating layers of random-strand and woven roving fiberglass, and introduced premium-quality Imedge (for colors) and Armorcote (for white) gelcoat. The stringer system is encapsulated marine plywood. Wiring has been upgraded to the same labeled yacht specifications used on Cruisers models. The engine mounts have been completely re-engineered and the previous lagged wood blocks replaced with heavy aluminum right-angle mounts through-bolted to both the stringers and the engine. Other material upgrades are more mundane: Wood is eliminated from seat bases, stainless-steel strainers replace plastic on the deck drains, and all hatch rams are also stainless, for example.

Styling is pleasing but typical of this boat type, except for the quirky “duck tail” boarding platform, a design intended to give the boat a shorter turning radius in tight quarters. The optional aluminum sport arch ($7,650) has a nice sweep and is topped with a ski tow point. A sun pad over the motor box has a backrest that can be adjusted to create an aft- or forward-facing seat, or lowered fully horizontal. Wraparound seating is hinged over stowage that’s finished fiberglass. It would be easier to reach this stowage if the cushions lifted off. A 48-quart cooler stows below the seat to port. Access to batteries, trim pump, water pump and water tank plumbing is excellent below the aft port seat.

The head compartment in the port console is very well finished in fiberglass and includes a small sink with shower nozzle and an opening port. A portable or pump-out head is an option. The hatch is lightweight but closes on itself too easily; some kid is sure to be startled when it slams behind him.

A hatch in the helm console and a lift-off seat back in the bow offer good access to stow optional bow filler cushions ($835) and a cockpit table ($565) and to reach the helm wiring. The bow seating area is spacious and so deep that I don’t think smaller children will obstruct the view forward from the helm. The highlight here is the shape of the bow seats, which are scooped out to make a comfortable forward-facing lounge on both sides.

Base power is a small-block 320 hp V-8 from MerCruiser or Volvo Penta (starting at $99,000), but this is a pretty heavy boat likely to frequently be loaded with guests, so I’m guessing a big-block engine option is the way to go. The 380 hp MerCruiser with Bravo Three drive in our test boat adds $7,000 to the base price and gobbles fuel, but also puts the 298 on plane smartly with minimal bow rise. I ran this boat on some smooth water and in a nasty 2-foot chop on Green Bay, and the hull stayed composed, tracking well in a quartering sea and through tight turns.

I think KCS has the Cruisers Sport Series 298 coached up and ready to get in the game. I expect a long career for this well-finished day cruiser.

Comparable models: Four Winns SL262, Chaparral 264 Sunesta, Sea Ray 250 SLX

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