Sporting a trendy blackout-trim package, dual fiberglass consoles and unique, deeply tinted windshield, South Bay’s 523 RS DC makes a statement before it even leaves the dock. The appearance package pairs Black Onyx fence panels with swooping, art deco-inspired rails, matching black rub rail and Bimini top. Black also shows up on that windshield frame. Its low-swept profile and short, angular side wings seem mainly for style, but there’s a practical advantage: Driver or passenger can easily reach out for a post or line when docking the boat.
Step aboard and an abundance of plush and inviting seating awaits. The 4-foot-long facing lounges forward are mimicked with 4-foot-6-inch lounges aft, creating two distinct socializing areas, each with abundant stowage below the teardrop seat cushions and pedestal mounts ready to add an oval table for snack time. Amidships, captain and mate enjoy aluminum-framed chairs with pivoting armrests set atop a 2-inch elevated platform for an improved view forward. The helm’s stunningly sleek dash is highlighted by a 12.3-inch Murphy 480 touchscreen display panel. An element we’ve seen on high-end tow-sport boats, it boasts exceptional color and clarity and includes an analog control knob. South Bay surrounds the display with billet aluminum, a look that is carried over to the steering wheel, additional dash accents, and windshield end caps. Across the aisle, the port console provides a flat work surface along with covered sink, stereo control and glove box.
The 3.0 Performance Package was on our test boat. It added an extra 25-inch center pontoon with performance strakes, as well as full aluminum under-deck skin, hydraulic steering with electric power assist and integrated fuel tank. Powered by a supercharged Mercury 200 Pro outboard, the boat jumped quickly onto plane with virtually no bow rise, reaching the 30 mph threshold in 6.2 seconds. Top speed was 41.5 mph.
* Top features include 16-inch cross-member spacing, LED docking lights, Kicker sound system with four lighted speakers, and five-step swim ladder. * Huge in-floor ski locker features vinyl lining and removable, woven matting. * South Bay encases speakers and wiring in plastic covers to prevent damage.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury Verado 200 Pro
Prop: Mercury Enertia 15.6″ x 13″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 13 gal.
Crew Weight: 155 lb.
$87,773 (with test power)
Forest River Marine Middlebury, Indiana; 574-825-8696; southbaypontoon.com