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Los Angeles Boat Show Report 2020 - Take 2

RiverDave

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We got home from the Boat Show and I tried to get things up in a hurry, but honestly been dealing with some kinda ailment and ended up in bed for 4 days. The original intro was "lacking" and just didn't do the show service and being that I didn't have that much into it I decided to scrap it and start again, now that I'm finally out of bed.


(@ChasingPaper talked to Art and mentioned that it would be great if the Pirates Cove girls came to the show and took some pictures on the boats. Something a lot of the mfg's benefited from!)
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First let me say This 2020 Los Angeles Boat show is brought to you by the LA Boat Show itself and @Nordic Boats! I'd like to thank Tim Baker, and Duncan (Duncan Macintosh) for graciously inviting us to exhibit at the show, and for our exceptional placement in the performance hall! We had a great time phenomenal sales and definitely look forward to coming back next year!

(Pirates Cove girls in the new 31 Nordic)
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Nordic Boats has not only been a staunch supporter of RDP (even during the lean times), but Thane personally has gone above and beyond in support of this little online venture in more ways than I can count. This year both Randy and Thane helped me out personally again with letting me borrow a little 12' Enclosed trailer to haul all of our stuff to the show as I'm in between trailers right now and didn't want to drag out to the toy hauler.

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Now lets quickly talk about the show before we jump into the "report".

Guys it's undeniable, the LA Boat Show is BACK! For myself this year had that same vibe that it did pre-recession. All the manufacturers and vendors were all smiles, everyone was having a great time, and most importantly a lot of transactions occurred across the board.

(From right to left in background Bob, Chad, Thane talking to customers in the foreground)
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I have said it before and I'll say it again, the LA Boat show is the barometer to how the season is going to go, and it looks like 2020 is going to be an awesome season!

Some quotes from guys in random conversation

Tony C from DCB - "Best Show we have had in at least 10 years"

Tom from Livorsi - "Absolutely amazing turn out, and have some great conversations that could lead to some big business!"

Troy Macintosh from ICB - "The show definitely paid for itself and then some!"

Thane from Nordic (to everyone else) - "Thanks for Playing!" :D .

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Pre Recession it was always kind of a unspoken game to see which manufacturer would get the first deposit check. The jokes between them all were never ending including "Thane's been carrying that same check around for three years" and on and on. Nobody ever keeps a true accurate count of boats sold because mfg's are kinda tight lipped about it, but they all whisper about who did what, and "Did they really?"

I'm hear to tell you everybody I talked to sold boats at the show, not only sold boats but in staggering numbers.

I'm not going to go down the list, but Thane from Nordic killed records this last weekend selling seven on Thursday and closing the show out with a total of 16 SOLD!! Hence the "Thanks for Playing" :D

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Speaking only for ourselves, the turn out and sales was unbelievable and much higher than anticipated!

The support from the members was out of this world.. The amount of rdp gear that was seen at the show (not just sold) meant an awful lot to myself and Stacy. Thank you everyone for coming out and repping our brand! It means more than you know.

Great Show and awesome job by Tim and the team from Duncan Macintosh!

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RiverDave

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Now as we get started on this years boat show report I think we should be up front and say that I personally didn't crawl through every boat, lift every hatch, crawl under every dash and take any of the pics. As we all know I twisted my ankle around backwards at LOTO in June, and I'm not even remotely back to a spot in my life where I can do that. @EL PROPO stepped up and took the reigns this year with the Cannon camera and took the pics (and I thank him for that!). As anybody would be he was a little hesitant to go pulling covers off of dashes and shooting wiring behind the scenes etc.. LOL I've been doing it for so long now I don't even ask anymore, but I can get why it's a little nerve racking first time.

That said we have a ton of pics (performance only this year) and we are going to get a great scope of what everyone brought to the show.

As always we have to start with "Best Booth" at the LA Show. Every year we do this, and every year all the mfg's throw their hands up and send me texts with "Dave WTF!!" LOL Last year I gave it to Eliminator because they brought the Eliminator girls (now have their own IG page called #EliminatorBabes FYI), they brought swag to sell, and brought a pretty impressive array of boats.

Now lets not take this the wrong way. Both DCB and Nordic brought Tilt boats last year. DCB brought out some of the best hardware in the country, they always bring out the cool truss sytems and the big screen TV's. Nordic brought out the biggest variety from small Vee's to a 43' Cat. The overall Booth experience is more or less what I judge this on.. Not who brought the most boats, or the biggest variety (although that does play a major part). Anyhow guys lets not take this too seriously here, because in times past this award literally used to go to who brought the most beer for ole RiverDave in the booth and I didn't care if they brought one boat.

This year again goes to Eliminator for the same reasons as years past. They had an awesome setup for selling their merchandise, pretty girls working the booth, plenty of hands on deck to answer any questions and sell boats (If they could build them in any kind of reasonable time frame anyways... Oh yeah guys it's the boat show report time and we are 100% honest about everything in this report).. It was overall the most friendly booth in the show, had all the attributes of last year, and this year (even though nobody else noticed) I couldn't help but notice that freakin MONSTER banner that hung the entire length of the booth behind it. While everyone else ran the old Pipe and Drape, Eliminator stepped it up and that one little touch made it kinda feel like a showroom.

(You probably didn't notice it the first time, but look again.. LOL)
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RD
 

RiverDave

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Now we are going to start the Boat Show report off with our Most Improved Player. This has to be Interceptor Custom Boats by anyone's standards. Lets be honest here a year ago the General Manager of this company had all but run it into the ground. He was bringing out boats that while they looked cool were "lacking" to say the least, and Chris managed to end up getting something like 20 criminal charges pressed against him.

Enter Troy Mcintosh the new General Manager of Interceptor Custom Boats. It has been right about 12 months since he took over, and he has turned this ship around to say the least. He brought some great examples of higher end boats and what I feel was one of the best bangs for the buck at the entire LA Boat Show.


This is what they call a 2500 SX, which is basically the old Cole 250 World Class mold. Troy decided to try this as an Outboard configuration, slapped a 300 on the back of it and offer it at a price point that is almost unbelievable. 62,500 with no trailer / Figure close to 70,000 with a nice trailer on wheels etc..

The boat hasn't been run yet so performance #'s are speculative, but he was estimating upper 60's or low 70's with a light load. The boat features a half cap in the back (had too because of the swim step) and front, and overall looks very NICE!

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Being I didn't crawl through it we are just going to go through the pics together here, and point out somethings.

Billet glove box (don't laugh it all adds up), Livorsi Offshore Controls ($), Vessel View, Fiberglass seat backs, stereo, and custom interior stitching, LED interior lights.. Sub 70K??

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Insets (not fiberglass) in the side interior panels, cup holders, more evidence of a NICE custom interior.. Sub 70K??

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Is that a subwoofer I see hiding up in that side panel? Why yes it is! Sub 70K??

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Even had the stainless Nav light with a bezel. (Don't laugh guys it all adds up)
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Now here's some shots of what we could see of the rigging.

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Now personally I didn't see it (again I didn't crawl through the boat) but Crazy Hippy said one of the seat bases was upside down.. I asked Troy about it after I got home and he said "embarassingly enough it was.. We are fixing it now". I'm not making excuses for them, but I do know that they worked day and night to get this boat to the show, and Troy himself was working on less than 4 hours sleep the first day. Was it a mistake? Yes... Did he own it? YES.. Unbolt it, flip it over and you are good to go.

While it seems like a pretty glaring mistake, honestly I can see how it could happen working day and night like that. Overall the boat with no trailer was priced at 62,500. Sub 70 with a nice trailer.. I don't think you are going to find any half capped anything with this many options in this size, for that price..

Even with the mistake, I stand behind that I believe this was the biggest bang for the buck at the show!! (Assuming it runs decent of course with that outboard).

You guys ready for the kicker? Do a closed bow and knock 3K off the price!! 59,500 no trailer..


Congrats on ICB's first award from RDP at an LA Boat show report!! MIP!

BTW I have two friends calling me and asking me about this boat right now. @DrunkenSailor on this website is one of them, and Chris Griner is the other one. They are thinking about buying them and running them for a season or two and then selling them for roughly what they have into them!


Nice Job Troy!
ICB Boats - 949-903-1272
 
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Tank

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The intro post and best booth are @Tommy Gun Images !

Always easy to tell when they are Tom's pics.. Best in the business!

Carter made the vid for me.

RD
Absolutely agree with you. He has a way of shooting his pics that really draws the viewer in, like you're actually there. Really give off a feeling of inclusion. Hard to shoot static stuff and make it super interesting like he does. Dudes got a fantastic eye for sure.

Sorry to side track....Carry on with the reviews!
 

RaceTec

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I hope you get to do a water test and report on that Interceptor, that thing was NICE, and a great hull to start with!
 

RiverDave

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Interceptor 2800 Kool Kat. Now before we get started this boat is for sale, but it isn't a "New Boat." This is Troy's personal boat that he built a couple years ago. It's a Carbon Kevlar layup / full capped / every option you can imagine with if memory serves me right a Teague 825 in it. Boat runs 107 mph (with gear in it) and is a contender out on the lake.

This particular build was supervised by Troy, and is likely the reason he's the new GM.. (had to make sure his boat got finished and wanted it done right). He's going to be selling it at some point in the future, and I'm sure the price tag is going to be up there.

I'm not really sure that it's "fair" that we review the boat because it is in fact a boat that has been out for a few years now, but lets just take a peek at the pics..

Full Cap (Note the old style ICB Logo's on the sides.. I'm sure he will be changing those)
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I do like the fact that they were having their own custom billet handles made, and billet vents etc.. Personally for me on the entry I'm not sure I like the red hatch with the white lower half. I think I woulda kept it all red on that side, but that's a styling thing neither here nor ther.

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Interior is a mix of Alcantara and vinyl with the double stitch diamonds.. Fiberglass insets and JL speakers throughout.

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Full capped nose.
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Billet front shower

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Integrated subs (not sure if they are in boxes or not?)

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Livorsi monster guages with carbon fiber backs.. LED interior lights.. I like the little dash pad under the windshield. Isotta steering wheel with the IMCO stainless tilt helm. (Note the ugly guy up in the right hand side of the pic) I'm not sure what the dot is below the speedo above the GPS recall?

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Those look like Dana Shifter / Throttle to me.

I like the fact that the SeaDeck is custom and isn't just a generic pattern.

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Here is a little evidence that it is in fact his personal boat and goes out on the lake.

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Not too often in the modern age where you see lifelines and deckboats go together.. When you are running a 100+ though?

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Whether he sells it or not I suppose will have more to do with what price the boat is listed at. (Might want to wait and see what some of the other boats are listed at in the report before ya make any decisions on listing price.. In particular the Howard 288)

RD
 

RiverDave

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I hope you get to do a water test and report on that Interceptor, that thing was NICE, and a great hull to start with!
I'm hoping as soon as he finishes it up he brings it to Havasu.. I got two more guys that want them if it runs even halfway decent! (Possibly a 3rd as well!). I'm not supposed to say anything on exact #'s, but If you held your hand up in the air and counted your fingers that is how many of just the 2500SX's were sold "at the show" ;) :D

RD
 

ToMorrow44

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I'm not sure what the dot is below the speedo above the GPS recall?
Looks like a warning light for the Teague motor.

any idea where they got the billet GPS recall switch?
 
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Daudioexpert

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The light on the dash is a guardian alert . Or Idiot light .
 

RiverDave

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The 2600 KK (Kook Kat).. This boat was built by Troy to show what the company is capable of under the new regime. The boat is again a Carbon Kevlar layup (not sure on what the price upgrade on that is but it isn't cheap), and a full cap (which is a 30K option). It has the the same material the upper end wakeboard boats are using in their interiors (doesn't get hot), has a monster stereo, merc 600 and as you will see so much more..

Taking a look at the transom you can already see it has the big Dana tabs with indicators etc.. (not cheap, or even necessary for the boat unless you plan on doing slow speed towable's with the kids). Looks like it's missing a piece of sea deck in the recessed area between the pads. That's something I didn't notice at the show, but just saw right now in the pics. I do like how they put the gas caps on top so it doesn't overly intrude on the lines of the boat.

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This is a new triple step bottom design, which I have been told by ICB works phenomenally, I personally haven't been in one so I can't attest to that. As you can tell it's all new tooling and I really liked the gunnel lines especially towards the transom where most decks are straight and just drop off this has a rounded edge all the way to the swim step.
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The Hydraulic hatch rams and finished out bildge / underside of hatch is a prime example of lighting 100 dollar bills on fire in this build. This boat again was built to show what they can do.

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Starboard side rigging.

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Through bolted hatch pads and finished engine hatch.

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Front Cap and Black bottom.. (I've always personally liked black or colored bottom boats).


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First look down the deck of a 2600 KK. As you can see it's a wide walkway, and is setup primarily for two passengers facing forward in the front. Obviously passengers can sit sideways as well if you are being the school bus for the day. You can see the LED "dot" lighting that they incorporated throughout on the base of the back seat. Note there are no bow rails on the deck!

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They incorporated the grab handles down below in the gunnel (still perfectly legal) to preserve the lines of the boat. Not that it's a big deal, but kinda surprised you only have one cup holder in each side. That's about as simple as a hole saw and putting another one in though.

I wish I knew the name of the material they used for the interior. Very few of the performance guys use it, and while it's not as "exotic" looking as alcantara it's 10 times better for a marine environment. It's a textured material that doesn't get hot in the sun, and is very common in the upper end wakeboat world. The only other performance mfg that I have seen us it is actually Nordic.

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Just taking a look at the sponson storage beneath the seats. It's ample and finished off with carpet. This storage on the 26 isn't going to be as large as some of the other deck boats being that this is a 26, but honestly how much storage down there do you really need? You can hide bodies in the shockwave or the Nordic... but people tend to load them up with stuff and it affects the overall performance of the boat.

This is ample enough storage for towels, or fenders, whatever you would need to typically keep in the boat.

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This detail is nice and something you usually only find on the upper end performance boats. The windshield actually has been painted to match at the boat, and they are using the real deal fasteners with little billet bezels to displace the load so it doesn't crack. Most other decks you will look at end there windshields at the boat and secure them with screws and little black caps.

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Livorsi Monster guages (Kinda surprised he didn't go with a vessel view.. even if I prefer the standard guages for river use).. Isotta steering wheel / fiberglass insets with glove box and lighting. Note that grab handle for the back passengers, and the bimini hardware on the inside of the boat. (Nice so it doesn't mess up the lines of the boat)

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Something you don't often see on west coast boats or inland water boats is what is called "Pecker Gauges"! They are mechanical indicators that raise and lower out of the dash so you can see what's going on at a glance. Typically you will see these in offshore race boats / skaters etc.. (Nice touch)

Hard to see in the photo but again you have a matte finish dash matte that has been sewn to match the interior and gives a slight lip over the gauges to help keep the glare off of them or a screen if you built it with one.

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Needless to say the rigging has jumped up light years ahead of what ICB used to be.

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This is a sideways picture of the back seat and you can see there is a integrated cooler that self drains into the bilge and storage on either side of it.

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Out of focus photo of the same thing.
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The only reason I included this pointless photo was to tell the story behind it.. LOL I was outside of the boat when Tyler was in it and Troy said "I absolutely want you to check out the wiring / rigging under the dash." I thought it was great that he wanted EVERYONE to see how he is building boats now and went so far as to pull the boat cover out of the locker to make sure we got pics of it.

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The photos Tyler took under the dash. Again they have really upped their game and want everyone to see it.

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The 2600 KK was introduced to be a Deck Boat that anybody could get into mildly powered for the low 100K mark and you can order them still today with a traditional layup, non capped, etc in that price range. This particular boat has more options and custom things done to it than we have talked about in this quick review, and some of those options aren't cheap. The Carbon Kevlar layup upgrade isn't for the faint of heart, and a full cap on a boat runs you about 20K at ICB (30+ anywhere else). To make a long story short this particular boat was a customer build and the word "budget" never entered the conversation.

If I told you guys what this boat cost to build most of you would have a coronary right there in your chairs, or on your phones at the stop light.. LOL When I heard the # I about fell over. That said when you start adding it up I can see how you get there in a hurry.. This particular 2600 tipped the scales at well over 200K... An arena that very few mfg's will actually sell a boat in with a Merc 600, let alone a 26'er. That said custom isn't cheap, and cheap isn't custom.

Welcome to the 200+ club ICB!

RD
 

Tommy Gun Images

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Absolutely agree with you. He has a way of shooting his pics that really draws the viewer in, like you're actually there. Really give off a feeling of inclusion. Hard to shoot static stuff and make it super interesting like he does. Dudes got a fantastic eye for sure.

Sorry to side track....Carry on with the reviews!
Thanks Tank! Gonna have to put you on the payroll I think :D
 

RiverDave

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Can you divulge where you got the GPS recall switch? Pretty trick, I might like to have one.
The recall switches come with the Livorsi guages.. Almost every GPS speedo I have ever seen has one?

RD
 

BHC Vic

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the shallow floors on the nordics... is that because it’s a tunnel? Can it be done different? I didn’t climb in but I didn’t think it looked comfortable. Anyone with experience in one? I feel like it would kind of be almost scary?
 

RiverDave

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the shallow floors on the nordics... is that because it’s a tunnel? Can it be done different? I didn’t climb in but I didn’t think it looked comfortable. Anyone with experience in one? I feel like it would kind of be almost scary?
Are you talking about the deckboat or the cat?

RD
 

BHC Vic

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I guess looking at it it’s the deck that’s shallow? Maybe it could be done more “conventional”?
 

BHC Vic

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Are you talking about the deckboat or the cat?

RD
The 31 cat. Silver and blue. I guess opposes to like the seats of a DCB on regular bases. Standing it looks like the girls could fall right out
 

RiverDave

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I guess looking at it it’s the deck that’s shallow? Maybe it could be done more “conventional”?
I'm not sure I know what your talking about, because I have been in every Nordic except the new 31, and I never thought any of them had "shallow" seating.. Granted you sit on the floor of the 35, but that's not really any different than any other big true tunnel cat (with a deeper tunnel)

RD
 

BHC Vic

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I'm not sure I know what your talking about, because I have been in every Nordic except the new 31, and I never thought any of them had "shallow" seating.. Granted you sit on the floor of the 35, but that's not really any different than any other big true tunnel cat (with a deeper tunnel)

RD
That’s what I mean. You’re on the floor not on a base. Seems like your legs would be laid out flat in front of you instead on under you like a chair, if that makes sense? The girls standing could fall right out where as a boat like mine I’d have to run and jump. It’s just the first time I’ve ever seen it. Really caught my attention.
 
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Flying_Lavey

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That’s what I mean. You’re on the floor not on a base. Seems like your legs would be laid out flat in front of you instead on under you like a chair, if that makes sense? The girls standing could fall right out where as a boat like mine I’d have to run and jump. It’s just the first time I’ve ever seen it. Really caught my attention.
My uncle's boat's seat frame are made of cut down 2x4's so to say the seats are low is an understatement. The seat backs barely make it half way up your back. I have never once felt like I was going to fall out of it. Even at 80 mph and the boat is dancing as it's packing air I don't feel that way at all.

Sent from my LM-G710VM using Tapatalk
 

billperkins3@att.net

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Great video and reviews Dave, thanks. I came through on Saturday afternoon.... cruised by your booth and saw you were packed with folks so decided to give you some space. Interesting you'd think Interceptor was the best in show cause I do as well. I walked entire show but my focus was on the performance hall and I'd say from my perspective that Interceptor vee bottom was impressive... From memory it was a deep red and I believe it was maybe 25-27' with a walk through to open bow. The feature that caught my eye was the freeboard. For a boat that size it was really deep... I'm an offshore 6'5" guy and have owned a 25' before and always felt vulnerable about getting tossed while at speed to Catalina. That freeboard was more like a much larger vessel. Kudos to ICB. I'm guessing that's a niche' build but it caught my attention. Hope te show proved valuable for you. Keep up the great work.... we're obviously watching!
 

lenmann

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That’s what I mean. You’re on the floor not on a base. Seems like your legs would be laid out flat in front of you instead on under you like a chair, if that makes sense? The girls standing could fall right out where as a boat like mine I’d have to run and jump. It’s just the first time I’ve ever seen it. Really caught my attention.
I thought the same thing when I saw it. The tunnel is very tall, and the boat has a relatively low profile so the floor to gunwale depth is pretty small. I didn't take a pic but if I recall correctly the seats are mounted very close to the floor. Almost like a v-drive flat bottom but without the stringers.
 

lenmann

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Found a couple of pics in @throttles Boat Show thread.

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RiverDave

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Great video and reviews Dave, thanks. I came through on Saturday afternoon.... cruised by your booth and saw you were packed with folks so decided to give you some space. Interesting you'd think Interceptor was the best in show cause I do as well. I walked entire show but my focus was on the performance hall and I'd say from my perspective that Interceptor vee bottom was impressive... From memory it was a deep red and I believe it was maybe 25-27' with a walk through to open bow. The feature that caught my eye was the freeboard. For a boat that size it was really deep... I'm an offshore 6'5" guy and have owned a 25' before and always felt vulnerable about getting tossed while at speed to Catalina. That freeboard was more like a much larger vessel. Kudos to ICB. I'm guessing that's a niche' build but it caught my attention. Hope te show proved valuable for you. Keep up the great work.... we're obviously watching!
Best value for the dollar on that 25! Best in show is entirely different.

Timmons 33R and that Howard 288 both come to mind if we are talking best in show! Both of those were holy shitballs over the top nice.

More reviews coming next week
 

ToMorrow44

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The recall switches come with the Livorsi guages.. Almost every GPS speedo I have ever seen has one?

RD
Right, but they’re the generic white recall switch. The one in the ICB looks billet and powdercoated/anodized to match the boat.
 

billperkins3@att.net

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Best value for the dollar on that 25! Best in show is entirely different.

Timmons 33R and that Howard 288 both come to mind if we are talking best in show! Both of those were holy shitballs over the top nice.

More reviews coming next week
Understood and agreed.... I recall the ICB 25' V bottom looked a bit aged from interior perspective. Just speaking to the hull/ mold specifically. I'm curious for your perspective on what I saw at the show overall which was all the colored fabric interiors and that "Seadek" flooring which seemed is being used generously covering every possible surface area. Given the +100 degree temperatures out on the Colorado River doesn't your skin fry? I heard someone comment the fabric doesn't absorb heat.... really?
 

Gambin87

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The 31 cat. Silver and blue. I guess opposes to like the seats of a DCB on regular bases. Standing it looks like the girls could fall right out
Ya that’s because the 31 is a true tunnel with a low profile so they mount the seats low to the floor, the seats are designed around you sitting in this position so it’s still quite comfortable, from my understanding the reason behind DCB being able to do it differently is simply because they aren’t a true tunnel cat so there’s a little more room to play with. Both are amazing boats, but both are still very different. I personally loved everything about that new 31 Nordic, looks aggressive.
 

RiverDave

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Understood and agreed.... I recall the ICB 25' V bottom looked a bit aged from interior perspective. Just speaking to the hull/ mold specifically. I'm curious for your perspective on what I saw at the show overall which was all the colored fabric interiors and that "Seadek" flooring which seemed is being used generously covering every possible surface area. Given the +100 degree temperatures out on the Colorado River doesn't your skin fry? I heard someone comment the fabric doesn't absorb heat.... really?
All that Sea Deck / Gatorstep etc gets hot.. Someone told me another company offered product doesn't, but I don't believe it. I have been in many center consoles in Florida and even the light light grey material is Hot A F on your feet.

RD
 

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Essex 28 Fusion.. This has always been one of my favorite Deck's (aesthetically), and it just never got the notoriety that the conquest or magics etc.. did at the time. The recession also didn't do it any favors so you don't see a whole lot of them out there.

Essex was a name that was a staple in the industry pre-recession, but honestly (at least for myself?) you don't hear much about them anymore. They haven't exhibited at the boat show in quite sometime (7-8 years? maybe more?) but they came back this year with a fury (pun intended 27' V bottom name) with an enormous booth and brought back 7-8 boats.

One of the things I really liked about the company way back when was there no BS pricing structure. They set a fair price and when you walked through the showroom door that was the price. Didn't matter who you were or how good your negotiating skills were the price was the price. I'm not sure if they still maintain that structure or not to be honest.

Their booth was in building 7 which was 2 buildings away from the performance hall. Honestly had it not been for someone talking about Essex being at the boat show we would've likely missed them as I'm pretty limited in my mobility right now and wouldn't have wandered that far thinking there wasn't any performance builders in that building.

As you can see the boat is low slung and sleek looking..

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Don't quote me on this, but I believe Essex was one of the first to put storage up in the top of the front sponsons way back in the day. They do have a bit of a deck in between the sponsons, but chose to hold it back from the tips so it retains a performance cat styling point.

From there we can see that they chose carpet inside the boat instead of the new closed cell foam (seadeck / gatorstep etc..) that everyone is going with. It's a touch old school (personally I like the carpet better if we are being honest, but trends are trends) which is a theme that is going to continue on throughout the entire booth.

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I haven't seen a Fusion with an extended swim step before, but I"m sure they have built a few of them. Again I haven't heard much about Essex in quite sometime.

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Maybe I'm being over critical here, but I think I would've removed the rubrail where that big strap follows the lines of the boat. That all said it's an interesting design and the strap deal definitely works albeit a little utilitarian looking.

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Top Storage lockers on the sponsons. (personally I think I again would've used hidden hinges etc.. but I'm a freak to try and maintain the lines of a boat.)
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It could be argued that by making these coolers you could also use them as dry storage.. Essex made them dry storage and placed carpet on the bottom. Personally I have enough of those small AO Coolers it wouldn't bother me either way.

On the cooler front, virtually every deck boat that has these coolers in the front you shouldn't use them. In the case of some deck's when you do it will knock 10-15 mph off the boat and make them handle terribly. (Not saying this is the case with the Essex, just saying some of them really don't like that weight in the front).

I can honestly say I've never been in a Fusion so I can't tell ya how they run.

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It's a pretty plane jane interior, but the upside is you can tell this is going to last the test of time. There really isn't any geometry to pull stitches etc.. Below the seat cushion you can see where they have indentations to put poles so that you can convert this into a front bed for overnighting. I'm not entirely sure where you'd get the cushions to put on those poles to make the bed?

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Essex still puts the sink with the faucet in here. Most the mfg's offer it as an option and many are just going to either a small cooler in this area, or deleting it all together.


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Storage locker under the helm.. These are larger than they look in the pictures (as they are on most decks). My only complaint is they are a little hard to access for someone larger because the walkway is a bit narrower than other decks in this class.

Something to notice here right off the bat, the inside walls aren't finished off with carpet, but rather with the splatter paint. Kinda reminiscent of the late 90's early 2000's..

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A better picture showing the size of the helm under the passenger side. You can see the trashcan in there, and above it you can see a little flip up hatch. You flip up the hatch and there's a hole you throw the trash down and it lands in the can. Kinda clever. For some reason I'm remembering years abck Essex just putting a billet bezel on the deck and you'd drop the trash in.. I'm not sure if they changed that recently or not. I'd have to go back through the old boat show reports to find out.

Note the door on this boat is actually fiberglass (a lot of others are plastic) which is something I like quite a bit. I wish they would do anything but the splatter paint on the back side of it.. Even if it was just a matte finish?

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I'll freely admit the design is an older one, but it's still very much relevant! It's dual helm that are symmetrical. The magic's of this era had a set back passenger seat, and I believe conquest was just coming out with their top cat 2. No real protection from the wind to speak of, which a lot of the newer designs have windshields or even canopies incorporated in.. (Cobra / Nordic and others)

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Livorsi Gauges and controls!

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And welcome back to 1999 ladies and gentlemen.. Splatter paint bilge and run of the mill rigging for that era as well. It's like a time capsule.. I know why they ran the blower hose that way in case water comes in the vent... but c'mon.. Wiring running under the side panels in plain site etc... Just old school and kinda "meh."

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And again, welcome to 1999..

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Last pic of the fusion.. I do like the multiple sub locations!!

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RiverDave

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Essex 25 Fury

My personal two favorites in the Essex Vee Bottom line up is the 24 Valor and the 22 Vortex from a aesthetics point of view. That said this is one step larger with their Fury, and it looks pretty Decent as a Walk Through Open Bow. Again this is all pretty typical of the Early to mid 2000's as Essex hasn't changed much since then.

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The Head rest across the back of the engine hatch looks a lot better to me than the individual headrests that are always so common. It could be argued that girls could use it as a bit of a pillow while their feet are resting on the swim step. That said that swim step is undersized for this size of boat, and I'd expect anyone ordering a new one would go with one of the aftermarket monster swimsteps that continues out.
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The bow is smaller than it's competitors (Say a 22 or 25 Nordic / Hallett 255 etc..) but is setup comfortably for 3. Two facing forward / one facing backwards on the reclined from cushion. The insets are finished off with vinyl and are backlit. They made good use putting contrasting colors on the insets in the vinyl as opposed to a flat color like most do.

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You can see there's quite a bit of depth which means people could actually sit in the cuddy seats if desired. It doesn't look as deep or as roomy as a Shockwave Tremor, but it's certainly respectable for this size range.

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Cuddy Cabin, with a convenient reverse glove box door for access to the back of the stereo.

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Driver side, with access to the back of the dash.

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It seems like a small detail, but that grab rail on the edge is actually quite functional. It offers support for the dash on both sides, allows someone to stand in between the driver / passenger seat (if desired) and makes getting in and out of the cuddy a breeze.


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I know everyone loves these JL units, but they always look weird to me with a giant blank dash.. I think I'd put it somewhere else if it was me and make better use of the space. (Note I don't see a glove box anywhere?)


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The backseats have the Essex style interior where the back rest is relieved.. This isn't just a styling point, but helps to prevent big "sweat patches" while you are driving. It's almost an Essex Trade mark, and is common in the smaller Vee's where they did jump seat seating to have a pass through for air. Note the inset for cup holders as well as the gunnel storage which is extremely useful in smaller Vee.

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Again they have gunnel storage in the engine bay which is nice... But the rest of it we are back in the late 90's early 2000's..

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This is the second boat where there's wires seemingly going to nowhere? (Yellow next to the bilge blower?) The blower hose just dangling in the engine bay.. That said it's a nice solid boat that I'm sure will run forever, it's just not "clean" like all the modern era stuff. Enough with the bilge splatter.. Even Advantage finishes off the bilge standard now! (Not that everyone does, just saying)
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Lets keep rolling onto the next one.

RD
 

RiverDave

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This is another 28 Fusion before we wrap it up..

This thing has to be hotter than the sun on the river during the Summer, but damn it looks good! Basically the same review as the last one, but I wanted to show the boat.

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I have no idea what's going on with this blower hose (multiple?) deal.. At the end of the day if you rest one on an exhaust manifold though (hard to tell in this pic, but it looks like it is) and you lose an impeller you are going to have a fire in a minute or less.

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Overall it was absolutely AWESOME that Essex came back and exhibited at the LA Show. It was great to see a mfg that we haven't heard much from in awhile not only come back, but bring a considerably number of boats. Their booth was laid out well given the number of boats they brought. They didn't have all the fancy lighting, or back drops, etc.. like some of the guys in the performance hall, but honestly for the building they were in they out shined everyone else.

The only two people I could see working the booth was Ron from Essex, and Chris as a sales rep (formerly from Eliminator). The booth was pretty busy when we were there so I only got to talk to Chris for a second.. I'd bet they did pretty well at the show, but I'd bet they could've sold more with a couple more sales guys working the booth.

I talked to Ron for less than a minute just saying who I was and what we were doing, and I talked to Chris for just long enough to get his number. Ron did say he was going to stick with their original program and keep building family fun affordable boats with I/O's and we wasn't going to try and ride the outboard wave like everyone else. I'm not sure if that is a good idea or a bad idea, but if you look at their lineup it makes sense.. They'd either have to come up with a new boat, or do some serious tooling work just to make them work. Their whole line up is based around I/O's with medium power.

Essex was at the forefront of a lot of trends, including being one of the only ones to truly embrace running a Bravo 3 on smaller Vee Bottoms (which was brilliant IMO). I hope the show did well for them, and I look forward to seeing what they have in store next in the years to come.

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RiverDave

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Quick intermission.. Ran into a nice couple that are on RDP while we were going between buildings.

RD
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billperkins3@att.net

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Good write up Dave.... I spent some time at their booth and agree. If I was looking for an entry level I/O around 23-25 this builder would be a great start. No idea of pricing but gotta figure a competitive number less than the more "known bling brands" at show. Essex graphics are a step in reverse like you said.... frozen in time from early 2000s. However if they've priced them as a proper value they'll be fine.
 

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Cobra Boats brought 3 boats to the show this year. They brought two 230 Razors and one 28 Python. The 28W Python is similar to the 27 python except it has the windshield tooled in and some other subtle differences. Both boats are in fact 28.

Quick interview with Hernando to explain that.



All three boats were brought READY for power which means they can be had for this season!

The first we are going to look at is a Cobra 230 Razor. This is a great entry level 23'er that is offered at an amazing price point with a 350 horse of 65,400.00! (These are on special) The boat will run mid to upper 60's with that power package and they are a great little boat that can run in everything from smooth water to holiday weekend slop and get you home safe and dry!

(Front Shot)
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(Isometric)
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This is a total matter of taste, but I swear Cobra hits it out of the park with all of their interiors.. Keep in mind they will build you whatever you want, but whenever I see a Cobra from the factory the lines / designs just flow with the boat. They don't go crazy overboard, they keep it clean and you can still tell there is some serious skills behind the product. Look at this boat and then look at the next one and you will see there is differences, but both work well.

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Again this boat was built entry level and ready to sell at the show. It has the single merc shifter / cheaper gauges (all of which can be changed), but notice they still did put the side details on the interior.

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Look at the backseat patterns, and notice again that they offered leg support at the front of the cushions.. The insets are finished off in a kind of blue matte vinyl.. Also check out the hidden bimini (standard) that dips behind the engine hatch! (nicely done)

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Good look at the transom of a 230. Large flat engine hatch (that they also incorporated a similar pattern to the interior and stitching details). I do think it's interesting they are running two gas caps on the transom, it would make me think that they are running saddle tanks? I would've expected the boat to have a belly tank in it. I'll have to ask Hernando or Jeff about that. Could be two gas caps to a belly tank? Not sure.

(Note in the pic the design on the back of the seat rests.. NICE for entry level ready for power!)

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In this picture you can see how the 230 offers a ton of little storage compartments.. On the passenger side their is an inset for storage.. as well as a lower pocket There is a small shelf behind the cubby seat. As well the seats in the cuddy pull up and there is storage under there.

Most of these are smaller compartments, but if your family is anything like mine all of these will come in incredibly useful. Wallets, sunblock, keys, towels (up on top of the cuddy seats), first aid kid, and on and on..

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And on the driver side? Why not a perfect place to put an AO cooler? (I'm pretty certain these also fit standard hard side coolers as well)

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As you can see the boat has the old style either gaffrig or beede guages in it, and the standard merc shifter. This boat was built with budget in mind, and again they can switch any of these things.. Honestly though for a first time fun boat? Why bother.. Just run it and have a blast, and if you are lucky sell it for the same price if not more than you bought it for if your timing is good.

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I didn't ask but expect to buy that cooler if you are paying that little for the boat.. LOL That's a Hernando quesiton. On that note little carpet error (quick fix) in the upper portion of the photo.

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Even on the entry level boats Cobra does a nice job on them. Earlier in the boat show report I was saying that everyone had stepped it up in the modern era.. This is a 60'ish thousand dollar boat. Compare to boats above that are in the 100+ range?

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Just showing the other side behind the dash.. I spend so much time around audio stuff it's weird to me to see an OG head unit anymore. Nothing wrong with it, I'm just used to the newer small stuff that is all blue tooth etc.

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Close up interior
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Close up rear seat and inset / hidden bimini

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Close up seat back

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Looking down the center..

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Overall this is another show BANGER FOR THE BUCK! 65,400 for a mid 60 mph boat that has plenty of room / plenty to offer / and can run in any typical inland water conditions. YOU CANNOT GO WRONG WITH THIS BOAT FOR THE MONEY! Pick a couple of simple upgrades and enjoy family boating for years to come!

Overall Cobra sold 4 Cobra 280 pythons at the show, so this boat, and the next 230 we are going to feature are in fact still available.
 

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This is virtually the same boat as above I just wanted to show you the pictures of the interior differences. This boat is still available for the same pricing as above.

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Unfortunately Tyler didn't take any pics of VTX 255 which is a very unique little boat in itself. We talk about it in the interview above, and if you ever get a chance to go test drive one, I highly recommend it.

However it's not hard to understand how he passed it up when "The Deck" of the show was sitting right next to it! This particular 288 is powered by a Teague 1050 and was built with a blank check. It's expensive at 300K, but when you price it against what new Decks are going for all of a sudden that 300K seems like a decent value when you factor in that it's a Howard and it has a 1050 in it. 110+ mph all day long.

We absolutely loved the color combo's which were non traditional, but had came together beautifully in such a way that could only be described as "rich."

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This 288 was optioned out with the windshields (tinted), and you get your first look as to how well everything flows in this boat. The only option that this boat doesn't have (which I don't blame the guy) is the full cap. There's no question that full caps are the finishing touch on a boat, but if you plan on actually using the boat and stopping places a rub rail is infinitely more functional.

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All 288's are half capped both front and rear due to the aggressive lines of the boat. It would be difficult to wrap a rubrail around the front of the sponsons as well as make the internal angle and make it look right. Note I didn't say impossible (there's plastic rub rails, or you can heat the stainless and bend it and repolish, but who wants that on a 288?)

The seadeck on the floor is a common diamond design that they bordered. It's clean and looks good without being overly intrusive. Personally I prefer a little more industrial design when it comes to the flooring, but I wouldn't kick this out of bed for eating crackers.

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They did the plastic hose inside a billet glove box. Some guys like the exposed billet nozzle on the end, if we are being 100% honest I prefer this setup. It all tucks away into the cubby so you don't have to see it, if the kids drop the hose end it's plastic and it isn't going to bang the boat up. Plus the curly hose pretty much self winds into the cubby.

That said for the bling guys I'm sure they'd prefer the billet setup. Neither one is better than the other just preference.

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The 288 is the only boat on the market that has a powered wind deflector in the front of it. There's a switch on the dash and this flap comes up out of the floor and fills the gap. It actually (surprisingly) does make a difference for the front passengers that are facing forwards.

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The interior was done in ultra suede with a double diamond stitch pattern. In all Howards they put the grab handles in the boat internally to preserve the lines of the hull. You can see the fiberglass (and matched gel) insets that come standard on the boat.

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Howard is also one of the few that managed to put headrests (or rather higher seat backs) into the front seats and it doesn't make the boat look "funky" from the side profile. (Scroll up and see profile shots.. you will notice your eyes aren't instantly drawn to them like most other boats)

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You can see the sponsons are finished out in carpet... The Carpet which by the way wraps up the way up onto the bottom sides of the seats!! (It's a Howard)

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You can see the giant billet doors, which also has a decent width walkway. You can also see how the tooling of the boat rakes the windshield and why you can order it with or without a windshield and it looks great either way.

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Howard has a slide with a pull out cooler on the passenger side. I'm not sure if they have changed the way the cooler comes out, but they used to have a little pin you'd pull out to pull the cooler out, and then put the pin back in to lock it in place. Don't lose the pin.

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On the driver side they mount the amps for the stereo (which isn't bad for being put in by a boat mfg!) You can also see this is where they keep the trash can (bottom of photo) .. Note they don't have the drop thru hole like Essex has.. That again is six in one hand and half a dozen in the other.. If I had a 288 I wouldn't put the pass through because I'd want to keep the deck clean. Hard to argue the functionality of the pass thru though.

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Here on the right you can see they put a vinyl snap cover to cover the wiring / rigging of the dash. It's easily accessible if you ever have to get in there in the future. Some mfg's put screwed on plates back there, and it makes things a pain in the ass, on top of an already "likely" stressful situation. Meaning if you're going in there, then somethings wrong with the boat and you are already pissed off. Others will put a glove box lid there that you can flip open.

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It's a Howard!! Clean as clean gets, and note the bulkhead bezel to prevent chaffing etc.. (far left on photo). Note the mechanical gauges on the the boost and oil pressure. (not sure of pro's and cons of that vs running a sensor and an electrical gauge.)

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Machined support for the window and edge details of the window.
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The 288 has always had one of my favorite dash layouts.. I was kinda surprised to see the Livorsi recall in the center under the helm. Kind of a cool location when ya think about it.
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Their inset next to the drivers seat places a speaker there.. Compare that to DCB's where they put a locking glove box and hide the keys and start buttons in there. Given the choice I like DCB's setup better right there.

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One thing Howard did that was smart was incorporate subs into the seat bases of the boat. Now that said don't get overly excited they are 8's, which is more than sufficient for most of their customers. If you are like me and you want the "BOOM" to blur your vision you are gonna have to dip into the front storage and face the subs out.

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We are towards the rear of the boat now and you can see the giant fiberglass inset here that again is gelled to match. There's all kinds of options here with cupholders and glove boxes etc.. A lot of times they will also put the battery switch in the back of it where you can barely see it. On this boat they deleted the extra glove box on the inset.

Note the bimini that is hidden under the engine hatch and out of the way. The entire back of the 288 (and the 255) raise up which makes it incredibly easy to access the motor / rigging etc..

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On the passenger side you can see the optional jump seat. If you pull that cushion you can use it for storage or a cooler. (note the finished off seat backs with fiberglass backs that aren't just flat)

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288 Overview looking forward. You can see it has a wide walkway, but doesn't skimp on interior room at the same time. Nice large flat engine hatch even with the blower motor.
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Howard truly does build some of the best boats in the industry. This is the left side where you can see the entire back of the boat raises up for access to rigging that is among the best on the west coast. In this photo you can see the battery switch I referenced earlier on the left. The only thing I'd "personally" change on this boat is I'd machine plates for where the motor attaches to the stringer instead of using the three bolts with stringer washers. I'm not sure what that wire is hanging down from the raised engine hatch into the engine bay on the left of the of the hatch ram, that might be powering some lights up there.. I think I'd run that up the transom and into the bottom of the hatch closer to the hinge point.

After all these years they are still using lead acid Interstates.. Nothing wrong with it, but I'm surprised they aren't moving up to something like Full River's or Odysseys on a 300K boat.

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There's the monster!! This boat is gonna flat haul ass.. Had they paint matched the fire extinguisher this is getting close to DCB territory on Engine bays.. (that's saying something). Howard does an amazing job on all of their boats. That said TCM does an amazing job as well, and I"m almost wondering if Teague rigged this boat? It's not uncommon for Howard and TCM to work together on that if it's a higher HP build.

I do like the fender storage, and the fact that they made an area on the right side of the photo for storage if you wanted to use it. I couldn't imagine putting a hard cooler on that finished floor though.. Soft side only boys!

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You can see where they hid the Imco Super Fuel Valve and at least one of the courtesy lights in the engine bay.. They are tucked away to keep things clean.

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More pics
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Front of the engine bay and you can see the integrated (self draining) cooler under the back seat.

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The 288 comes with an integrated swimstep that hangs over the drive... Most importantly it ADDS to the look of the boat making it look sleeker and faster.. It doesn't look like a bolt on albatross that someone put on for kids.

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The Howard 288 is a longtime favorite of mine (RDP), and I'll argue pound for pound it's the fastest and one of the most SOLID hulls out there. The boat will run 90 mph with a 30 labbed in cooler weather with a Merc 600 and is responsive and FUN to drive. It shares the same bottom as the SCS / SDS and variants, but has the looks of an exotic which is why it's one of their best sellers (next to the new 255 now).

It will be interesting to see at this years RDP Evaluations if it remains the top dog for speed!

RD
 
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