Smartboat 23

The Smartboat 23 packs a lot of features into a uniquely styled package.

We Say: The Smartboat 23 is a European import with sailboat roots that will impress the most jaded of powerboaters. It was designed by VPLP Yacht Design, the same group that built Larry Ellison's trimaran that won the America's Cup. Its ride surprises.

Based on appearance and the boat’s light weight — 2,200 pounds with test power, thanks to its resin-infused, PVC foam composite construction — I expected a pounding wet ride. We had none of that. With a Yamaha F115 outboard we hit close to 30 mph while burning 8.6 gph of fuel at 4,700 rpm — below the recommended 5,200 to 5,500 rpm range, suggesting that, with the correct propeller, this boat could see a higher top speed.

I carved impeccable hard-over turns at top speed and could not get a drop of spray on us while jumping confused wakes. The boat rides on the aft third of the running surface, which has virtually no deadrise, so it rides almost like a bass boat on a delta pad. Hard chines lend stability. To counter its light weight, Smartboat adds a 66-gallon ballast tank forward of the console.

Overall, the boat packs a lot of features in a small space via modular components. My favorite is the built-in fenders, rectangular cushions that recess under the gunwales and flip outboard on straps.

Who'd Want One: A yacht owner looking for a sweet tender, or a day-boater who appreciates design.

Another Choice: The Novurania Chase 23 ($187,000 with 220 hp Volvo D3 diesel sterndrive) is a diesel-power RIB that offers unique styling.

Bottom Line: $84,716;