Princecraft Super Pro 186 SE

The 186 SE gets good marks for its performance, durability and handling.

We Say: A test drive and a factory tour gave us the full boat on the performance, durability and handling of the Princecraft 186 SE. In sea trials on Canadian waters, I pressed it through snap turns, speed runs and acceleration trials with relish. The Mercury Verado 150 was turning just an aluminum prop, yet the boat snapped to plane in 3.6 seconds and hit 30 mph in seven seconds — a speed that skiers consider ideal for popping a slalom rider from the water. Top speed was 45.5 mph.

After we churned up some wake on the lake, we cut back through the chop to see what kind of ride the hull’s V-bottom would give in rougher walleye territory. The boat cleared through the wakes without jarring our teeth. The chines knocked down the spray, and even the breezy day could not throw our wakes back in our face.

At the factory, we saw the source of the strength we experienced. We watched as stringer grids of solid aluminum were plasma-cut, carefully shaped and, where necessary, welded and riveted together on precision jigs. Then the stringer grids nested perfectly inside the aluminum hull, where they were riveted and welded in place so carefully that the exterior of the hull retained its smooth finish even around the rivets.

Who'd Want One: A North Country boater who needs a dry ride to the fishing holes and a high windshield to protect from cooler weather.

Other Choices: Lund's 1825 Explorer SS ($33,246) sports a dual console and full windshield. So does Tracker's Targa V-18 WT base boat ($32,115). Both prices include a Verada 150 and trailer.

Bottom Line: $46,829; www.princecraft.com