38 SC — By George L. Petrie
|The new, beamier Fountain should have broad appeal.|
Holding the world speed record for the fastest V-bottom (142.946 mph), Fountain Powerboats has long been synonymous with high performance. Over the past 20 years, the builder has parlayed that reputation into a line of fast, narrow-beam sport cruisers and fishing boats that offer heart-pounding speeds, but whose market segment is relatively small due largely to the limited accommodations that will fit in a hull just 8'6" wide. Introducing a 10'6"-beam 38 Sport Cruiser, founder and president Reggie Fountain is hoping to appeal to a wider segment of the express cruiser market by offering 70-mph speeds and race-bred handling with the space of a more traditional cruiser.
Even with the additional two feet of beam, the Fountain 38 looks as trim as a race boat. The first hint that she's more than just a muscle machine is the reverse canted radar arch spanning a spacious cockpit that seats up to eight. In addition to its primary role as a mount for various electronic doodads, the arch is the central support for a full two-piece bimini top that offers more than 6'4" headroom throughout the forward and aft areas of the cockpit. Being that the North Carolina morning sun had not yet warmed the crisp, early-spring breeze near Fountain's plant on the Pamlico River, I was pleased to see how easy it was to put the enclosure into place. Large zip-in windscreens shelter the whole cockpit but allow excellent visibility forward, aft, and to both sides.
Beneath her trim foredeck, the master stateroom features a large V-berth on centerline, a dresser to port, and a cedar-lined hanging locker to starboard. The wider beam is most noticeable amidships, where a big Ultraleather settee offers comfortable seating for four opposite a galley on the port side. Between the galley and settee, there's a removable dinette table along the centerline. Abaft the galley, there's a head with handheld shower built into the sink faucet. It's okay in a pinch, but I'd like to see Fountain tweak the layout to find room for a separate stall shower, as nicely as it carved out a comfortable nook beneath the cockpit for a double berth in the midcabin.
Before Reggie Fountain and I got down to serious performance testing, we took the 38 for a quick spin with the bimini enclosure in place. I was curious to see how the tall structure would fare at 70 mph. Would it flap like a flag in a hurricane? Or worse, would it make the boat squirrely? My concerns were put to rest. The top and side curtains fit tight as a drum, and there was no adverse effect on handling, even while we were running along at full throttle in a stiff cross wind.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.