Five Fast Center Consoles

Five of the fastest performance center consoles on the water.

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

Cigarette Racing Team

Deep Impact 399 Executive

Deep Impact Boats

Deep Impact 399 Executive

Deep Impact Boats

Deep Impact 399 Executive

Deep Impact Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Invincible 42

Invincible Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Boats

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Statement Marine 368 SUV Crossover

Statement Marine

Cigarette Top Gun 39 Open

A few years ago, Cigarette Racing Team introduced the 39 Top Fish, a center-console model designed expressly for offshore fishing. The boat sold well, giving die-hard Cigarette fans an outboard-powered, more recreationally oriented model.

There was only one glitch. “The Cigarette customer wasn’t fishing,” said Marilyn DeMartini, public relations representative for Cigarette Racing Team. Slowly the move toward a more sport-utilitarian approach started. The Top Fish Cuddy evolved into an open model with a ton of seating up front.

But Cigarette fans love the classic look and feel provided by boats with a 5:1 length-to-beam ratio and the wave-crushing bottoms for which the legendary manufacturer is known. So Cigarette decided that it would give them exactly what they wanted in a sporty, center-console form.

Thus the 39 Top Gun Open was born.

“It was designed to be an 8-foot-beam typical Cigarette,” DeMartini explained. “Cup holders replaced rod holders.” When the boat was unveiled at last fall’s Fort Lauderdale show, it was sold before the event ended. The next one sold during the five-day duration of the Miami International Boat Show. The twin-step bottom design runs 74 mph with triple 300 hp Mercury Verados. And with that 8-foot beam, it’s trailerable.

In true offshore performance style, the helm has side-by-side stand-up bolsters and driver and co-pilot are protected from the sun by a fiberglass hardtop. Aft is a lounge with seating space for four people, and up front there’s a comfortable two-person chaise on the leading edge of the console with horseshoe-shape lounges in the bow. You’ll find plenty of stowage throughout the boat, and the private head has a small sink with a pull-up faucet, definitely larger than the closet-size area you would find on center consoles not long ago.

Invincible 42

While all the boats featured in this story have twin-step hulls, noted naval architect Michael Peters takes things a step further with the Invincible 42. In the center of the aft running section, there is a tunnel. This creates two sponsonlike surfaces outboard of the tunnel on which the boat rides, improving efficiency and increasing top speed. Additionally, when you turn the boat, the inner walls of the tunnel act like keels, keeping the boat from spinning out because they grab the water and provide lateral resistance. Proof of the design’s efficiency is that the 42 is running speeds similar to sub-40-foot boats with triple Yamaha 350s. “The thing that struck me most about the Invincible is how similar the boat feels to a deep-V, but it has all the positive benefits of the step,” Invincible’s director of sales and marketing, Bill Cordes, said. “The thing that I like most is that you don’t have to be a brilliant boat driver. You can get a relatively inexperienced guy behind the wheel and you’re not going to hurt anybody.”

Invincible is six years old, and more than a year of research and design went into the company’s first boat. The ironic part is that the company founder is a die-hard fisherman who realized that his boats need to fish well and be comfortable to attract a buyer who wants to fish and still enjoy family time. “There are only so many hard-core fishermen,” Cordes said. Cockpit highlights include a triple-person helm seat with a lounge on the aft side, a side boarding gate and an enormous head in the console with more than six feet of headroom.

Deep Impact 399 Executive

While some companies worked their way into performance center consoles, Deep Impact started in 1998 building only performance-oriented center consoles. “We build boats that are the perfect all-around sport boat for the family,” said company General Manager Tim Gallagher. “We always keep performance as one of the main selling features.”

Noted naval architect John Cosker, who owns Mystic Powerboats, drafted the original twin-step designs for Deep Impact. Powered by three 300 hp Mercury Verados, the 399 Executive runs right at 70 mph, and Gallagher said it will run closer to 73 with three Yamaha 350 hp outboards. Deep Impact has also built some four-engine 399s.

“It feels very much like a muscle boat when you run it,” Gallagher said.

Deep Impact designed the boat to be instantly noticeable with a sloping sheer line at the stern. It's cosmetic and functional because it lets the manufacturer create a larger deck area in the aft end of the cockpit. Because the boat has a 10-foot-7-inch beam, the builder can use a wider console and three bolsters at the helm. Up front, the lounge seats have tilt-up backrests to improve passenger comfort, and the rear bench folds up and out of the way. A custom builder, Deep Impact has built a tournament model sponsored by Monster Energy drink, and a few 399 Executives have been built for use as tow-behind tenders for large motoryachts.

Statement 368 SUV Crossover

The point of owning a boat is being able to jump in, start the engines and have fun, and this is where an outboard-powered center console comes into play. “It’s the people who have been used to a go-fast boat but are tired of the maintenance, the upkeep, the unversatile nature of the boat,” said Mike Flanigan, vice president of Statement Marine, which started with a 34-foot center console at the 2011 Miami boat show and in October of that same year unveiled its 368 SUV Crossover. Midway through 2012, the company had taken orders for six more. A 39-foot center console with Statement’s suspension cockpit sole is planned for spring 2013.

“Now we can see that there’s a huge market for it, and even though it’s a more competitive market, it’s a much more active market,” Flanigan said. Also a custom builder, Statement will build the boat in a sterndrive version and is putting together a package with twin Ilmor Marine V-10s and Indy drives. With triple 300 hp Mercury Verados, the 368 SUV Crossover runs 70 mph on a twin-step bottom design.

Like Nor-Tech, Statement is going with a more high-end look with solid-color hull sides and tan or cream-color upholstery in the interior. Flanigan also said that many customers are decking out their 368 SUV Crossovers with a variety of colored LED lights both above and below the water’s surface. A side boarding door makes it easy to step on from the docks, and the helm has a three-across thickly padded bench seat. Wraparound seating aft and a huge sun pad atop the forward cuddy cabin give you plenty of space to sit down and soak up the rays.

Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open

Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats of Cape Coral, Florida, is known for building some of the most awesome boats in the go-fast universe, but when company sales and marketing director Terry Sobo heads to a poker run, he takes one of the manufacturer’s center-console models, usually the 390 Sport Open.

“They’re great for poker runs,” Sobo said. “You’re cruising at 60 with 12 on board. I consider it the fastest boat per person on the market.”

Nor-Tech introduced its first center console at the 2010 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and it was an instant hit. The company is sold out on the 390 for all of 2012, and Nor-Tech has added a 34-foot model. With triple 300 hp Mercury Verado outboards, the 390 Sport Open retails for $368,000. The twin-step bottom tops 70 mph with a full load of people on board. Sobo said that, in addition to fostering impressive speed, the company focused on designing the 390’s bottom and hull sides to keep occupants dry by knocking down spray.

From a styling and features point, Nor-Tech was among the first builders to take a more luxurious approach. Gone are the gaudy multicolor graphics. The single-color hull sides in bronze or pewter make you think of a high-end SUV such as a Cadillac Escalade. Features like a full-size three-person bolster at the helm, a double-wide chaise on the front of the console and a forward horseshoe-shape lounge provide plenty of seating. An entertainment center makes it easy to whip up lunch. Like most of the competition, the 390 Sport Open has an easily accessed head in the console that average-size adults will consider spacious. If you do want to fish, there are insulated boxes beneath hatches in the cockpit sole.

Simple & Safe
Speed, ride and handling attract boaters to high-performance center consoles. But there are practical reasons for choosing these muscle boats.

Self-Bailing Cockpit
It's safer in big seas and makes washdown a snap.

Outboard Power
This provides more cockpit space, beachable draft, excellent corrosion resistance and easier maintenance.

Build Quality
Spawned by companies experienced in building boats to meet the most demanding high-speed and offshore service, boats like these retain structural integrity for the long haul.