Boston Whaler Rage: This conservative fish-boat company surprised everyone in 1991 with a 13-foot fast and fun jet. Small sport jets are still around, but it all started with Whaler.
Wellcraft 30 Scarab Sport: In 1977 this was the first outboard-powered center console with a skinny (8-foot) offshore, speedboat hull. Long, lean, fast, smooth-riding and very sexy.
Carolina Skiff: Unsinkable and ridiculously inexpensive. Buy a hull and then glue-and-screw in whatever parts you want. Brilliantly simple.
Glacier Bay 2660 Canyon Runner: The best riding boat under 30 feet. It was the first outboard to reach Bermuda, went halfway across the Pacific and crossed the Bering Strait. It’s what a cat should be.
Formula 400 Super Sport: A family day-cruiser with modest power that can blow the socks off most sport boats. It’s also laid out for how we really live, with a big cockpit and small cabin. Perfect.
Fountain 42 CS: Introduced in 1994, it tickled the underbelly of 100 mph with factory-warranted engines and started the modern stepped-hull phenomenon.
Grady-White 330 Express: The first outboard-powered battlewagon with the fuel economy, comfort, fishing ability and accommodations of an inboard — only a lot faster.
Bayliner 175: Built to a price? Sure. But you get a lot for that price, and the best part is that it doesn’t look cheap. It’s the boat that launched a thousand boaters.
Logic 120: We threw it off the roof and it bounced. In 1995, Logic (now Triumph) used roto-molded plastic instead of fiberglass. The material floats, absorbs shocks and doesn’t fade or blister.
Albemarle 27: In 1987 it was the first production stern-drive boat with a jack shaft. Putting the engine’s weight midships gave it a big-boat inboard ride with all the benefits of a stern-drive — and no engine box aft.
Carver 396 Motor Yacht: To maximize interior space, cabin sides were brought out to the gunwales and the side decks raised. Back in 2000 its unusual appearance made traditionalists laugh, but it started a tradition of its own.
Pro Air Nautique: A wakeboard boat in the late ’90s was a ski boat dangerously loaded down with ballast aft, and a flimsy extended pylon. Then, in 1998, Correct Craft gave us two important firsts: a hull specifically designed to make wakes and a high, solid tower.
Hinkley Picnic Boat: For generations, the wealthy summering in Maine had local builders turn out one-off “lobster yachts”–graceful boats perfect for family outings in rough coastal waters. In 1994 Hinkley offered a highly-polished version of these boats, and others followed.
Yamaha Waverunner FX 140: Those who hated waterbikes said they were polluting. They weren’t, but it was a clever legal ploy. To counter, in 2001 Honda announced a clean four stroke. But Yamaha beat them to market. It, and the others that soon followed, saved waterbikes from extinction.
Avon 4M Searider: College students in the UK had a volunteer lifeboat station that used Avon inflatables. The boat’s floors kept wearing out so they tried adding a wooden hull. Avon adapted the idea to fiberglass and in 1971 gave us the first RIB, “for going out when others are coming in.”
Tracker Tundra 20 Sport: Aluminum is lighter and can take more punishment then fiberglass. Yet aluminum boats don’t have the same curves, as they are built from flat sheets. Tracker changed this in 2004 by stretch-forming the metal. The boat has the soft curves of glass, with the durability of aluminum.
Pilgrim 40: In 1983 this was one of the first nostalgic cruisers, or “character boats”. It’s a combination of tug and old-time river boat. While not for everyone, everyone loves to look at them and 41 were built. It sipped 1.5 gph at 8.6 mph from a tiny diesel, and had a fantail veranda for civilized living.
Dyer 29: You’d think being in production longer than any other boat it would have more impact. But outside of New England it’s rarely been heard of. Too bad. Since 1955 this gem has had no effect on the outside world. From one owner, “They got it right, so who’d bother copying it?”
Mastercraft Maristar 280VLD: When it came out there was nothing else like it and we said it deserved to be copied, and soon it was. You can spend hours and still not find all the cool bits. Deckboat? Skiboat? Runabout? All of the above and better looking too.