Surfhunter 25 Center Console

Critic's choice.

They Say: A time-tested hull design provides this 25'-by-9' center console with a great ride, and its layout and detail allow it to serve as fishboat, runabout, or yacht tender.

We Say: What they said. And more. The 375-horsepower V-8 Volvo stern drive that we tested is one of three propulsion options offered in the Surfhunter 25 -- jet and inboard being the others. Whichever you choose, the engine is mounted in the center of the cockpit to shift the center of gravity forward. Coupled with the deep-V, variable degree deadrise of the Hunt hull, this delivers all kinds of boat design goodness -- great stability, a lower running angle, and softer landings. In short, the boat displays an excellent ride. The sweet spot in a small chop with our test package was right around 30 mph, we achieved a full-throttle speed of 45 mph. What's more, in its customized trim, the Surfhunter has J. Crew catalog cover panache. Optional teak accents, and its gleaming black hullsides add to the classy, yachty look. But don't be fooled, it serves well as a fishboat. There's a tackle station in the center of the engine box, a 21-gallon transom livewell, and plenty of rod storage.

Who'd Want One: Discerning boaters seeking an open boat for pleasure, sport, or tender duty.

Other Choices: The Ellis 24 Open Fisherman is another fast, functional, and beautifully styled center console with choice of power.

MSRP: Test power - $123,500 ****

Contact: 401.324.4201 www.huntyachts.com