Pursuit 280

For the love of the game.

Some boats are built for comfort, others for speed. The Pursuit S280 center console? It does both surprisingly well. Its amenities and style hark back to the gentle age of picnic boats, but the speed and hardcore fishing gear declare this a no-nonsense bluewater rig.

With 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom, the S280 should offer rough-water performance. To test this we leapt 3' wakes from the many yachts on their way south for the winter. The S280 proved easy on passengers and gear. And thanks to the 9'6" beam, there's no tenderness such as that found in many narrower deep-V boats. It heels aggressively into fast turns, but sharp chines and strakes grab and prevent sliding even during emergency maneuvers.

For a rig displacing 7,042 pounds, the S280 is quick out of the hole-just over four seconds. It also accelerates well, hitting 30 mph in 9 seconds. Sure, with a top speed of 54 mph it's slower than a go-fast fishboat such as a Fountain, but still exceptional given S280's beam and heft. Fuel economy averaged 1.6 mpg at 4500 rpm and 39.8 mph.

A roll-out refrigerator under the leaning post, complete with wine rack, will likely help sell this boat to fishermen with families who like to climb aboard. The powder-coated hardtop stanchions run to the gunwales rather than the console, providing more shade and weather protection, as well as more room to walk around-although at the expense of being able to chase a fish around the gunwales. With its Plexiglas screens, the broad hardtop also encloses a huge area, which is great for chilly days. Families will also like the facing foldout couches in the cockpit. These swing out on massive chromed-steel frames, or when it's time to fish the couches can fold away flush.

There are touches of varnished teak trim throughout the cockpit and seating area. And a pushbutton anchor winch up front ($1,085) allows the anchor to tuck neatly under the bow peak rather than in a pulpit. It's a clean, easy-to-use, good-looking system.

The console interior isn't spacious, but it provides standup headroom for 6-footers, a china vacuum-flush head and sink, a Clarion CD player, and easy access to console electronics. Pursuit engineers used good construction that you can't see belowdecks, too, including oversized hoses and doubled stainless-steel clamps on everything that goes through the hull.

Contact: 772-465-6006, www.pursuitboats.com