Intrepid 475: Boat Of The Year!

This boat does so many things so well.

We haven't yet tested the perfect boat, but Intrepid's 475 does so many things so well-and so many things better than so many other boats-that it's close. Taking the unusual approach of marrying quad four-stroke outboards to a refined stepped hull, it delivers an unparalleled combination of speed, efficiency, seakeeping, and ride quality. Here's a boat that's as practical in 3 feet of water as it is in 1,000 fathoms.

A lot of what makes this boat so successful are those four outboards. Kickers on a 50' cruiser? You bet. What other boat this size that you can cruise and fish in nets 0.8 mpg and tops 52 mph? Most are lucky to get 0.5 mpg and top 40 mph. What's more, the outboard's drives can be hoisted out of the water when not in use, which means there's no underwater fittings or hardware to corrode. With outboards, you can get underway without sniffing bilges, turning seacocks, and running blowers. Use your boat intermittently? Ever try to start an inboard that's sat for a month? All you need to do to take the 475 out is trim the motors down, turn the key, and go. Intrepid's use of outboards on a large boat is a first. But it works, and we're betting others will follow.

Beyond its power source, this is an exceptional boat as well. It's a cruiser that's going places, as evidenced by its many cockpit lounges, dual heads, and ability to sleep four comfortably in complete privacy. It can also fish by virtue of a huge self-bailing cockpit and your choice of more customized bait stations, livewells, and fishboxes than you can shake a gaff at. Only interested in a short joy ride? The 475 provides performance thrills with its transom-mounted ponies and Intrepid's long experience with fast stepped hulls. Finally, its top-caliber build, finish, and ability to be customized will impress folks at the yacht club as much as a Hinckley or a Hatteras.

And then there are the details. We love the underwater night lighting. It's not for fishing, although it could work for that. It's just a cool effect that surrounds the boat with a pool of light. There are electro-convertible berths and a remote engine flushing system. The stowage "hold" is big enough to house a RIB, or set it up as a dive center with a compressor, racks for a dozen air tanks, and standing headroom to work on it all. Yes, those four outboards will catch everyone's eye, but there's a lot more here than you see at first glance. Few boats, regardless of power, do so many things so well. For now at least, the Intrepid 475 is a category of one. A new category that rates it an easy choice for our Boat of the Year.