Tiara 3900 Convertible — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— September 2005
The Return of the Crown
A yearlong launch delay didn’t deter this midwest builder from finishing its boat the right way.
It’s all in the details.
After testing boats for more than five years, I’ve found it’s that philosophy that makes the difference between okay, good, and exceptional vessels. And one builder I’ve noticed that is consistent in its attention to detail is Tiara. I’ve always been impressed with its helm layouts, clean wiring, and good performing, solid-fiberglass, modified-V hulls. But what impressed me most was Tiara’s decision 12 months ago to hold back a boat it felt wasn’t ready even though there were already orders and media inquiries about her. Seven or eight 3900 Convertibles—Tiara’s first midsize convertible in about ten years—were already on order before Hull No. 1 was finished. However, when the builder launched that first boat, it felt that what Dan Springer, vice president of new product development, terms “finer handling points” were not what they should be and that more work was needed on the hull bottom. Springer adds that while Tiara could’ve modified the existing design, it decided to “start over from scratch” and develop a new hull bottom.
This kind of candor endears a builder to its owners, which explains why Tiara will build more than 400 boats this year. Springer says that even though the company wanted the 3900 to launch on its original date and provide its customers with the boats they’d ordered, Tiara wasn’t going to give the public access to the boat until she was right.
So in July, about one year after the scheduled launch, I took a trip to Holland, Michigan, to get a first look at the new Hull No. 1 and test her. But before I ran the numbers, Springer offered me some wheel time. Our test site, Lake Michigan, was checkerboard-flat, and I firewalled the optional single-lever Glendinning electronic controls. The 3900 popped out of the hole and got up on plane in about seven seconds as the optional 575-hp Volvo Penta D9 diesels spooled up to a 2250 rpm cruise (the engines are rated at 2600 rpm). According to the onboard Raymarine GPS, we were making about 35 mph when I put the wheel hardover. Power-assisted Teleflex steering enabled me to carve a circle within her length with only a slight lean inboard and virtually no drop in rpm. Later I confirmed that cruise speed with my Stalker radar gun and also measured a top average speed of 39.5 mph. Overall, the 3900 performed well, although I’d like to see her run in some rough stuff since Tiara is billing this as an offshore, tournament-able vessel.
I also simulated backing down on a fish, suspecting that the proximity of the side-by-side in-deck fishboxes (33"x18"x13" and 691⁄2"x181⁄2"x13") to the door would surely mean water could get into them. But I could only manage a minimal amount of water through the well-secured transom door. While I wasn’t going hardcore on the throttles, I still suspect that if you back down hard enough to bring water over her transom you’ll get some in there. However, I was able to determine that Tiara’s centralized scupper system, which has one in-deck grating on centerline aft in the cockpit, evacuated any water on deck in rapid fashion. Tournament anglers will appreciate this feature, along with several other ones.
For instance, my 3900 was equipped with an optional 48-gallon in-transom livewell and bait freezer forward to port in the cockpit, and a standard bait-prep center with sink. There is tackle stowage to starboard next to the door leading to the saloon. Four in-gunwale rod holders are standard, but if I were going to fish this boat seriously, I’d add two along the gunwales. My test boat was also rigged with a standard deck plate for a fighting chair and optional Rupp outriggers. Rod stowage is located in the guest stateroom.
One other thing anglers want, while not fishing-specific, is a solid windshield. Tiara offers an optional centerline 50"x38" window that brightens the saloon and galley and compliments the long side and large aft cockpit windows. However, if you’re going to push this boat through some seas and weather, solid is the way to go.
Next page > Part 2: The 3900 offers an impressive turn of speed, a long list of standard amenities, plenty of options, solid construction, and the ability to function as either a serious sportfisherman or a family cruiser. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
This article originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.