Tested: Hinckley Sport Boat 40x
The Hinckley Sport Boat 40x draws on the lineage of its parent company for a new outboard-powered model that defies categorization.
I stood on the swim platform of our summer boat in a crowded mooring field off Martha’s Vineyard and eyed them in the middle distance as they flanked us like wolves sizing up prey. The duo approached in single file but quickly split off—one then appeared beyond the bow of a large motorsailor as its partner suddenly materialized off our port quarter. The flag-blue-hulled, outboard-powered sea stalkers continued to close the circle around us for several moments, inching nearer with each pass. I knew our time had come.
I quickly finished my morning joe and as I took the last gulp, I heard Editor-In-Chief Dan Harding emerge from the salon. “Our ride’s here,” he said and handed me a waterproof backpack, a Yeti filled with refreshments and a spring wetsuit. With that, six of us boarded one of the 40-footers, off for a day of water sports and cruising with the other vessel serving as our chase boat.
Later that afternoon the team lounged in the cockpit, soaking wet, amped and tired from splashing around Cape Poge Bay. Flip-flops were strewn about the nonskid deck among various sporting equipment including a surfboard, foiling kiteboard, wakeboard and makeshift tow rope. There was enough sand in the cockpit for our own beach.
A few of us kicked back in the pair of aft-facing lounges, feet up on their electrically actuated footrests with others relaxing on the forward-facing settee. I was shocked that I wasn’t being roasted by the rest of the team for my earlier epic fail (more on that later). It was a short ride back to our Vineyard Haven mooring, but our workhorse for the day—the Hinckley Sport Boat 40x—was miles away from the bespoke, teak-clad vessels of her parent company.
“We wanted to maintain the essence of Hinckley with the [Sport Boat] brand but still have it feel like a Hinckley,” Chief Marketing Officer Pete Saladino told the team from the 40x’s pilothouse. The longtime builder of jet-powered, joystick-controlled craft launched their Sport Boat line last year with our chase boat, the center console 40c (the 40x shares the same hull) following the same stringent, all-composite build process as all Hinckley models, with a carbon fiber and Kevlar epoxy hull utilizing SCRIMP resin infusion.
Gallery: Hinckley Sport Boat 40x
Saladino remarked that the “meaningful improvements in horsepower and reliability” in the outboard market—and the double-digit growth in the 300-hp and up segment—led Hinckley to a two-year exploration on how to take advantage, smartly tapping Ray Hunt Design for the builder’s first hull specifically designed for outboard propulsion since the baby-boomer Kingfisher 15 of the 1950s.
The 40x reserves Hinckley’s meticulous approach that will separate it from a crowded field of 40-something-foot, multiple outboard vessels. “[The Sport Boats] haven’t evolved from fish boats like so many of the outboard-platform boats,” Saladino said. This is evidenced in the choice of finishes: I particularly liked the glossy teak that framed the companionway, but also the choice of durable Corian for the galley and maintenance-free, faux teak in all the right places. It struck a nice balance.
Sitting at the port-side, L-shaped settee with a few of my colleagues, I began to appreciate the layout of the pilothouse. With over 7 feet of headroom, wide, electric windows to port and starboard and a pair of big, roof-mounted hatches with optional ($10,650) powered dogging, it at once felt airy and open even with 10 of us gathered there. The massive, single-piece windshield certainly helped. The contoured glass is designed to reduce glare for unmitigated sightlines. “We’re obsessed with visibility,” VP of Sales and Product Development Scott Bryant told us from the helm. “We knew we had to nail the visibility and openness in the pilothouse.”
Later, as I bobbed on the surface with the 40x coming at me—it looked downright huge—I was glad for those clean sightlines as I waited for another attempt to wakeboard (we had planned on some kite surfing and had local pro Ben Sampson from Next Level Watersports ready for action, but the wind wasn’t cooperating, and we audibled). Each time, I grabbed the tow rope, got myself into position and as the triple, 425-hp Yamahas spooled up, I flopped around for several seconds before flailing into the bay. Sampson’s friendly advice fell on deaf ears.
I emerged from the water slightly defeated and watched from the cockpit under the SureShade as one by one, the team suffered the same fate. We all applauded as Associate Editor Krista Karlson jumped into the drink and within seconds was dialed in, surfing the wake and executing big bottom turns; she saved us from collective failure. Still, it was a blast and the fact remained: We were getting towed around by a Hinckley.
When it came to my turn at the helm, I sat at the optional ($6,880) Stidd wide companion seat—full, four-way electric power adjustment means comfort to just about anyone who takes the wheel—and ran the 40x throughout the rpm range, banking turns with confidence. She seemed to hum along in a spirited groove at a steady 32 knots and 4200 rpm, good for a 246 nm range. A fast cruise of 39.3 knots and 5000 rpm equals less than a 20 nm loss in range. This is a well-balanced, all-day cruiser.
Her optional triple Yamaha XTOs (engine packages are available in triple configurations from 350- to 400-hp from Merc’s Verado and Racing platforms with a trio of Verado 300s standard), propelled her on calm seas to an average top sprint of 46.6 knots with 10 people on board, a few hundred pounds of equipment and full water and fuel. For those with a greater need for speed, twin 627-hp Seven Marines are available—according to the builder, the Sevens should push the 40x to a top end in excess of 55 knots.
The 40x is by and large a different vessel from any Hinckley that preceded her. But it takes design cues out of the Hinckley playbook that will separate it from the pack—the teak-and-holly soles and teak bulkheads belowdecks glow as brilliant as a Picnic Boat’s stunning interiors. Optional faux soles for the pilothouse and cockpit and artisanal teak toerails can complete the custom look.
One can also choose to surprise the tassel-loafer crowd and swap out the cockpit grill and storage for a livewell and bait prep area, pilothouse rod storage and additional rod holders in the transom. The fact that it’s available on a Hinckley shows how far the Sport Boats deviate from the builder’s prior offerings.
She’s certainly more wash-and-wear than her predecessors and as a semicustom boat, the 40x deftly straddles the line between bespoke and ready for action. Her best asset is that she can be as polished or unfussy as you please. It’s as if the builder urges you to cram the wine cooler with Domaine Tempier rosé, but save plenty of room for IPAs.
Hinckley Sport Boat 40x Specifications:
Displ.: 20,000 lbs.
Fuel: 450 gal.
Water: 82 gal.
Standard Power: 3/300-hp Mercury Verado outboards
Test Power: 3/425-hp Yamaha XTO Offshore outboards