90 Top Production Powerboats
(Click on the icon to see a photograph.)
1976-1985 Designed by Mako
Ask any diehard angler who has run a few boats in his time to name some favorites. The early Mako 25 will almost surely be mentioned since the ride is so smooth and solid. The 25 was one of the first center consoles to start to creep up in the size range when she came out in 1976. (Aquasport had come out with a 22-footer a few years before.) The original Mako 25 evolved into an updated model in the mid ’80s.
1978-1982 Designed by John Cherubini
Super-efficient, pretty fast, and popular. A good old reliable 160-horsepower Perkins pushed this baby through the water. The 34 was updated in the early ’80s with the Mark III version. Mainship saw an opportunity to create an affordable, value-oriented pocket trawler before any other builder was focused on this buyer. The company strayed for a while and got into the motor-yacht market building boats like the Mainship 41 Grand Salon (perhaps one of the ugliest boats ever conceived), but in more recent years the builder began focusing on the trawler-yacht niche once gain. Today boatbuilder David Marlow is creating Mainships that will surely be on our next Power & Motoryacht’s Top Boats listing.
2013-Present Designed by Seaway
Yes, charter powercats are plenteous but this 484 has a supremely better layout ... particularly when it comes to the exceptionally well-ventilated heads ... an important consideration when you’re thinking about chartering a boat.
2006-2010 Designed by Bill Barry-Cotter
Maritimo founder Bill Barry-Cotter is one heck of a boatbuilder. After selling his shares in Riviera Yachts he took his knowledge and moved across the street and started to think about how he could build a different boat. He saw a need for something that could do longer-range cruising, but offer some speed and styling as well. Soon the Maritimo 60 was born and the enclosed-bridge layout also became a Maritimo trademark. Even on the smaller boats, this design element does nothing to detract from the boats’ lines. Maritimos are also known for their simplified systems and stout construction.
2003-Present Designed by David Marlow
While the Marlow 65 launched this now venerable builder and benchmark brand, the 70 highlighted another reason for Marlow Marine’s lightning-fast success: David Marlow is constantly fine-tuning his boats to make them better. This is easier if you’re not designing via committee. Also, when a builder sells direct like Marlow and doesn’t have to worry about stepping on a dealer’s stock inventory, he can introduce a new model when he wants to. The 70 is a stretched 65 and in profile she appears to have a reverse transom, making her damn good looking. The additional length also adds to the stern without substantially increasing her weight, thereby giving the boat even better lift. Pure and simple, she’ll literally run rings around other vessels of her size and type in rough seas. We once did so, during a sea trial in Florida.
Marlow Explorer 65
2001-2012 Designed by David Marlow/Doug Zurn
For a while back there in the early ’90s, just a few companies had the long-range cruising market pretty well sewn up. But then along came David Marlow with his signature straw hat and amiable manner. Marlow intro’d his first boat with designer Doug Zurn ... and she arguably went one better than the offerings at the time. The engineering that hallmarked the 65 and subsequent yachts (with Velocijet keels, dry-stack infusion, high-end engine rooms, and joinery magically materialized from a single hand-picked teak tree) took high-end trawlers where they’d never gone before.
2004-2010 Designed by Nuvolari Lenard
While other U.S. builders had all but abandoned the 60- to 75-foot production market in the early 2000s, Carver introduced its Marquis line with a 65-footer that got everyone’s attention. The luxurious details and customization set the 65 apart from her Carver-born siblings, and the systems and mechanical spaces reminded you that this was indeed an American-built boat. And the ride? The builder and design team hit it out of the park.
2004-Present Designed by Doug Zurn
It’s as if MJM founder and owner Bob Johnstone along with yacht designer Doug Zurn expunged all previous notions about yacht design and boating when they designed the MJM 34z (the first boat in the MJM series). They looked at how boats were actually used, and focused on efficiency while the rest of us were driving our fleet of Suburbans to Starbucks, and they zeroed in on composite technology with boatbuilder Mark Lindsay of Boston Boatworks. Highlights include a one-level cockpit, bulletproof construction, a convertible helm deck, and above all, stellar performance. Try 2 nautical miles per gallon at 25 knots! Today the MJM series ranges from 29 to 50 feet.
Monte Carlo Yachts 76
2010-Present Designed by Nuvolari Lenard/Seaway
Monte Carlo Yachts should be applauded just for possessing the moxie to launch a new company during the dark days of the economic downturn in 2009. However, after reviewing the fresh thinking and technology that went into the MCY 76—the first in the series—it’s downright impressive. The hull is a stiff, monocoque sandwich design. This allows the interior to be lowered deeper within the hull giving the 76 interior volume while also lowering the COG. Monte Carlo also seized on engine technology and specified 1,200-horsepower MANs coupled to ZF pod drives. The styling, fit and finish, and fresh thinking of the 76 made the Italian builder, a division of Beneteau, an instant success. Look for the MCY 86 in the States at the 2014 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show.
1998–Present Designed by Jeff and Jim Leishman
In 2001, company founders Jim Leishman and Dan Streech, along with Nordhavn designer Jeff Leishman, decided to conduct the ultimate sea trial of the Nordhavn 40. On November 3, 2001, the crew took an “off-the-rack” Nordhavn 40 and set out from Dana Point, California, on a 26,000-mile, 27-week circumnavigation. The trip gave Nordhavn lots of in-depth knowledge about the boat, how she handled, and how they might improve upon her (the popular N43 was the result of what they learned during their trip). The circumnavigation also inspired armchair cruisers around the world to look a little farther over the horizon. In fact, the company subsequently organized an Atlantic Rally for 18 boats in 2004. The message here was simple. If a little ship like the 40 could go around the world, you could certainly cross the Atlantic onboard your 62-footer.
1989-2005 Designed by Jeff Leishman
Along with Bruce Kessler’s Zopilote, this saltiest of salty lookers really cranked up the passagemaking craze—really, there shouldn’t be any question on this one.
Ocean Yachts 40
1997-2005 Designed by David Martin
This boat was the perfect fit for folks with an itch to go sportfishing but not a lot of money ... nice boat too, and beyond the early ’90s, its resilience vanquished the flexible flyer thing that dogged Ocean’s earlier years.
Pacific Mariner 65
1998-2008 Designed by William Garden
One of the best production powerboats ever built with cutting-edge sound levels, solid engineering, a top-shelf finish, and fabulous resale value today. Took the production standardization that the company’s founders learned while working at Bayliner and turned it on its head.
Palm Beach 50
2010–Present Designed by Mark Richards
Mark Richards of Palm Beach Motor Yachts was waiting in the wings for the right time to bring his Down East-inspired 50-footer into the North American market. He saw his opportunity at the Newport International Boat Show in 2010 and the boat was an instant success—a reminder that being the biggest doesn’t always mean you build the best. Richards also recognized that engine selection is an ever-changing preference, so he bucked the common practice and developed a boat that could run just as well with pods, straight shafts, or jets, without changing the basic accommodations or mission statement. His open-aft-deck design with folding bulkhead has inspired other builders to design similar treatments. Richards’s attention to detail got the attention of boatbuilder Grand Banks, which purchased Palm Beach Motor Yachts this past spring, and appointed Richards as the CEO of both companies.
2000-2005 Designed by Fulvio de Simoni
We wonder when Pershing founder Tilli Antonelli and his partners collaborated with Fulvio de Simoni on the first Pershing 45 in 1985, if they realized the legacy they were creating. The 88 was the culmination of all the expertise gained since that first boat and catapulted the builder into the large, performance-express yacht market, a position it has dominated ever since. The MTU 2000s and surface drives can push the 88 up to 40 knots. And good Lord she looks stellar slicing through the water with the Pershing signature silver hull.
Pearson True North 38
2001-Present Designed by Clive Dent
Everett Pearson is a boatbuilding pioneer who created the first fiberglass production sailboat, leading to a long career in composite technology. In the late ’90s, along with his son Mark, he began to think about launching a simpler powerboat, where the emphasis was on using the boat, not maintenance. The True North 38 was launched in the fall of 2001 and she became an instant classic. Clamshell doors not only allowed easy retrieval of a tender, but created a “beach” deck while on the hook. The indoor/outdoor galley felt like a beach cottage. As often happens, the original mission became camouflaged by buyers looking for more systems, more brightwork, and more flash. Those jazzed-up models are wonderful boats, but we’ll gladly take hull number one any day.
1974-1983 Designed by Russel Post
Never a glitzy company, Post (and Russell Post) intro’d the 42 to the market in 1974 and went on to build more than 200 of them. The benchmark in midsize, classical sportfishing boats, the 42 reaffirmed that South Jersey produces some tough battlewagons. An evolution of the 42, by the way, came out in 1997.
2000-2004 Designed by Bernard Olesinski/Princess Yachts
Our editors primarily focus on boating in the North American market. Therefore our first solid introduction to Princess Yachts was through the very successful partnership between Viking Yachts and Princess that began in 1995. Thanks to the vision of industry veteran Tom Carroll, two like-minded boatbuilders created a partnership that recognized the potential to market Princess models in the States. However, Carroll also knew that these boats had to be Americanized with some layout changes, and even different equipment that could easily be serviced on this side of the pond. Although now marketed under the Princess nomenclature in the Americas, Carroll and his team continue to follow the same playbook that made the venture successful. Oh, so why list the 65 and not the long list of other well-designed models? Certainly the current models have evolved beyond this 15-year-old express cruiser, but the first V65 represents one of the first 60-foot plus models with the VSC touch, and really tilled the soil for later success. Moreover, it is indeed a timeless design. She’ll still create a buzz today, and the ride in rough seas is simply fantastic.
Protector Targa 30
2012-present Designed by Rayglass Boats
The ultimate do-it-all, go-anywhere boat. Small enough for a trailer, but large enough to handle rough stuff in open ocean, thanks in no small part to her surprisingly rugged, stability enhancing tubes. Performance-wise, the Targa 30 practically leaps up on plane and is notable for Barry Sanders-esque agility. Her relatively Spartan interior may raise some questions about how, exactly, you’d use her, but Targa owners themselves will tell you, if they have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.
Ranger Tugs R-25
2007-2010 Designed by Dave and John Livingston
This boat was at the forefront of the “pocket” cruiser trend that is still going full force today. Innovation and use of space led many owners to trade down from larger models. Other builders began looking at the success of Ranger Tugs and tried to duplicate. Purest form of flattery, really. Today, the builder has a full order book of models ranging from 21 to 31 feet.
1990-2014 Designed by Lou Codega
When Regulator founders Joan and Owen Maxwell brought the design brief for their first boat to Lou Codega in 1988, the 32-year-old naval architect hadn’t ever drawn a sportfishing boat, having mostly done projects for the U.S. Navy. “I was really taken with their desire to do something that had never been done before,” Codega says. The result speaks for itself, with 1,525 hulls built over a 24-year run. The Regulator 26 may not have been the first boat to carry many of the features she offered—the in-console head compartment, the huge in-deck stowage and fishboxes, the grillage stringer system, the Armstrong outboard bracket—but she improved on many of them, all with a custom level of fit and finish that just wasn’t seen in similarly sized boats at the time. A variety of hull colors was available—even custom colors—in gelcoat, not paint. And then there was the ride, smooth and dry even in rough conditions, thanks to a forgiving variable-deadrise running surface and robust construction. And the feel was pretty good too. It was solid as a rock with no squeaks or rattles. “Every part of the boat is structural,” Codega says. “If you can’t pick it up and walk away with it, it’s part of the boat’s structure.” The Regulator 26 combined all of these attributes in a great-looking package—after all, life’s too short to own an ugly boat.
1962-1996 Designed by Giorgio Barilani
Just look at this picture. She’s an icon, nuff said.
Riviera 38 MKI
1981-n/a Designed by Bill Barry-Cotter
When the Riviera 38 MKI launched in 1981 Bill Barry-Cotter was just starting out, with a staff of five and only building 8 boats a year. By 1983 they had three more boats in the lineup and had sent their first boat to the U.S. From there on, it was sky’s the limit for the Australian builder. After a reorganization, the builder is now privately owned and still building seriously versatile boats.