Topaz 32 Express: Deja New

Back on track.

Get on any modern express in the 30' to 35' class, and you're likely to find one of those cool-looking tilt-up helm decks. Press a button and rams raise up the entire helm deck to provide easy access. Just one problem - access isn't always so easy on these rigs. The lifting rams are often put between the two engines, right where you enter the engine room. That's what I expected as I watched the helm deck of the new Topaz 32 Express raise up, but instead I found the most accessible engine room you're likely to encounter on this type of boat, because Topaz engineers put the hydraulic lifters outboard of the big iron horses.

Other unexpected engineering feats surround you on the 32 Express. Check out the helm deck seating, for example. Two center-facing seats behind the helm provide visibility both fore and aft, so they're useful whether running or trolling. To make room for these seats, 1'6" was borrowed from the cabin on the old design. That doesn't mean the cabin is lacking - there's a large berth forward, a dinette that folds into a second berth, a fully enclosed head, and a rodbox that holds up to eight rigs located over the main berth. I wish they'd replace the rodbox's spring-strut supports, though, because in my experience these break after a year or two of use. Topaz fitted the cockpit with such standard features as a raw-water washdown, a massive macerated fishbox, a triple-tray tacklebox, and a bait freezer/tackle station. One thing I like about this cockpit is the clean transom - with the fishbox located in the sole and the livewell positioned forward, the entire stern is open for fish fighting.

Construction highlights include bulkheads that are glassed to the hull, fiberglass-encapsulated fir stringers, and through-bolted aluminum L-bracket motor mounts. While popping through waves, the 32 Express is vibration? and rattle-free, and the beefy 18,500-pound displacement gives it plenty of heft so it can shove waves out of the way. Compare that to the 31' Rampage 30's 11,600-pound displacement ($194,860 with 300-bhp Yanmar diesels), and the 32 Express' wave-busting heft becomes clear.

LAST WORD. The next generation of hardcore sportfish, the new 32 Express has more than enough brawn for a serious offshore fish hunter.

LOA...........32'8" ** **

Beam.........12'2" ** **

Draft.........3'1" ****

Displacement (lbs., approx.).....18,500 ****

Bridge clearance..7'8" ****

Transom deadrise..18° ****

Minimum cockpit depth........1'9"

Max. cabin headroom ..................6'2"

Fuel capacity (gal.) ..................400 ****

Water capacity (gal.) ..................50 ****

Price (w/standard power) ..................$226,800 ****

Price (w/test power) ..................$228,800 ****

STANDARD POWER: Twin Cummins 330B 315-bhp in-line-6 diesel inboards.

OPTIONAL POWER: Twin diesel inboards to 840 bhp total.

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin Cummins 370B 355-bhp in-line-6 diesel inboards with 505 cid, 4.12" bore x 5.12" stroke, swinging 22" x 29" four-bladed Nibral props through 2.04:1 reductions.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Hydraulic steering; integrated bow pulpit w/anchor roller, anchor, and rode; bait prep center w/sink and stowage; fishbox w/macerated pumpout; coaming pads; tackle locker; rod stowage box; canvas top; custom steering wheel; microwave; single-burner cooktop;refrigerator/freezer; AM/FM/CD stereo; TV/VCR; vacuum-flush head; fresh/raw-water washdown; 6-gal. water heater; 5kW Onan genset; 50' 50-amp shorepower cord; 40-amp converter/charger; safety gear kit w/life jackets, flares, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, and auto. fire extinguishing system in engine room; recessed trim tabs.