Tom Slikkers became CEO and president of S2 Yachts, the builder of Tiara Yachts and Pursuit Boats, in June 2012. Prior, he headed Pursuit, focusing on design and development, and helping Pursuit fine-tune the quality, durability, and desirability for which the brand is widely known.
>Why are center console boats seeing a resurgence?
In the earlier days, there were certain key attributes that owners always had in their center console boats: ease of ownership and maintenance; outboard power; and dedicated fishing features. But there were also some frustrating elements, particularly for those who went boating with their families: lack of seating for a crowd; no private head compartment; no place to prepare and serve a meal except the bait-prep station. That limited the number of buyers. Successful boatbuilders are finding ways to give owners more of what they’re looking for in a mission-flexible boat based on the center console platform that offers the ride and performance they want in more open waters.
What are some of the most desirable features out there?
New center consoles with dedicated fishing features—large livewells, excellent rod storage, insulated fishboxes, hardtops for antennas and outriggers—are still easy to find. But many builders now offer models with an emphasis on dedicated seating, improved stowage, even private spaces below the console that can include head, galley, and basic sleeping accommodations for the family. At the same time, they include the necessary features for those interested in angling. These “gentlemen’s center consoles” are by necessity feature-rich, with more of a nod to sociability and creature comforts for multiple-generation families.
The trend to multiple high-horsepower outboards is definitely concentrated in the southeast U.S., but the concept has caught on in other parts of the country, in places where speed is prized because it makes it easier to reach a favorite destination—particularly with larger center consoles. In general boating uses, people aren’t spending as much time in the boat’s cabin these days; they prefer to be on deck and experience the thrill of moving across the water.
What pre-show advice would you offer potential buyers?
It is important for buyers to decide well before the show what they need and what they expect the boat will do for them. If the customer is a hard-core fisherman who uses the boat for angling more than 50 percent of the time, there are plenty of mini-battlewagon designs that put fishing features first and family features next. If fishing time is occasional, and time spent aboard with children, grandkids, and friends is important, the customer will naturally turn to features that everyone can enjoy.
Some manufacturers design boats with the optimum propulsion in mind, to deliver the speed, economy, and cruising range that they sense the owner wants. Other boat builders will offer several multiple-engine offerings, which is fine if speed is what the customer truly prizes.