Best pontoon boats: Latest models show why this style is so popular

Our US correspondent Elliott Maurice explains the burgeoning popularity of pontoon boats and takes a look at some of the newest models on the market...Clockwise from top-left: Tahoe 2585, Harris Crown 270, Bennington QX, Bennington 25 RX SportA dominating factor over the past few years in the US boating market has been the rise of the pontoon boat. The first pontoon boat is believed to have been created back in 1952, when a farmer from Minnesota tied a wooden deck to a pair of surplus WW2 bridge pontoons, leading to the first […] This article Best pontoon boats: Latest models show why this style is so popular appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.

Best pontoon boats: Latest models show why this style is so popular

Our US correspondent Elliott Maurice explains the burgeoning popularity of pontoon boats and takes a look at some of the newest models on the market...

Clockwise from top-left: Tahoe 2585, Harris Crown 270, Bennington QX, Bennington 25 RX Sport

A dominating factor over the past few years in the US boating market has been the rise of the pontoon boat.

The first pontoon boat is believed to have been created back in 1952, when a farmer from Minnesota tied a wooden deck to a pair of surplus WW2 bridge pontoons, leading to the first production pontoon boat named The Empress.

The result may not have been very stylish but it was a stable, spacious, low draft platform that could be adapted for any number of different uses.

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Today’s pontoon boats still possess those same qualities but have evolved into far more sophisticated party platforms that now dominate the market for inland and bay-based boating across the US.

Why are pontoon boats so popular?

The significant upsides of the pontoon boat design are a very shallow draft, low wetted area (allowing for impressive performance with relatively low power) and a very stable, flat ride.

The fastest recorded pontoon boat Tooned In, a South Bay 925CR with twin 330hp Promax engines, achieved an average speed over a mile of 114mph back in 2013.

The luxury end of this segment has a number of manufacturers vying to create the perfect pontoon boat for its customers.

With prices ranging from just over $30,000 to north of $400,000, the level of performance and luxury can be tailored to suit any budget.

There are options for fishing, water sports, lounging at anchor and of course long-distance cruising – the 5,500-mile Great Loop from Florida to the Great Lakes and back has been completed on pontoon boats on more than one occasion.

harris-crown-270-stern

Outboard power is the dominant option when it comes to pontoon boats

More focused examples of the breed include the fishing-orientated pontoon boats from the likes of Ranger and Sun Tracker.

These feature live bait wells, dedicated rod and tackle storage, electric trolling motors and ground anchors, providing the perfect boat for sneaking into shallow and hard to access fishing holes.

Even watersports enthusiasts are turning to pontoon boats. With very little wake and small turning circles, the pontoon boat makes an excellent and easy choice for everything except wakesurfing.

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Easy-access sterns make pontoon boats ideal for watersports

The low wetted area allows for fantastic acceleration and any engine option over 150hp will give more than enough performance for tubing, wakeboarding or water skiing.

Although not offering the tracking of a purpose-built ski boat, high-end Benningtons or the more sporty M3 CRS Sylvan can offer plenty of towing power as well as drinks coolers, built-in grills, masses of storage for watersports kit and enough deck space for up to 8 people to lounge around in comfort.

The easy-driving and boarding characteristics afforded by these more sporty pontoon boats have carved out a new niche. And with such low drag characteristics, they also offer impressive performance and fuel economy – with a 300hp outboard on the transom, a 25ft pontoon boat can easily achieve 50 mph on flat water, while the fastest production pontoon boat, the twin 400hp South Bay 925 Supersport, can sprint from 0-30 mph in around 5.5 seconds and reach 90mph flat out.

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Pontoon boats can be deceptively quick

However, it’s the sheer amount of deck space and amenities that can be packed into a relatively short hull length that accounts for the astonishing rise in the popularity of deck boats.

With copious amounts of sitting and sunbathing space, refrigerators, cooking grills, state of the art stereo systems, deck showers and more, they have become the party boat of choice.

It’s this unbeatable versatility along with reliable outboard power and relatively low purchase and running costs that has transformed the humble pontoon boat from a basic workhorse to an object of desire.

5 of the best pontoon boats on the market right now

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Best luxury pontoon boat: Bennington QX

At the high end of the spectrum, the Bennington QX offers performance and luxury in equal measure. The starting point is a 23-30ft aluminium trimaran hull, available in a choice of 8ft 6in or 10ft beam, that supports a spacious deck capable of accommodating up to 13 people. This can be ordered in multiple colour options or with a complete custom paint job.

The deck itself is fully configurable with everything from a refrigerated bar area with ice maker, sink and BBQ, to chaise lounges, rotating bucket seats and stowable tables.

The options then move to interior colours and quilting options with the fit and finish to compete with any high-end luxury yacht builder.

Other options include underwater lighting, colour-changing cockpit and feature lighting, and a hydraulic sport arch.

Flatscreen electronics with engine integration are standard and high-end stereo systems can be specified to suit even the most discerning audiophile.

Power options range from single outboards up to 600hp on the 8ft in beam, or twin outboards engines up to 900hp on the 10ft beam model.

The fastest versions can easily reach speeds in excess of 75mph, and prices start from just over $100,000 to more than $400,000 for an ultimate spec package.

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Best all-round pontoon boat: Harris Crown 270 SL TE

Still at the high end of the pontoon boat world, the 29ft Harris Crown is available with up to 800hp on tap from a pair of Mercury Racing outboards.

Although falling into a similar price range as the slimmer of the two Bennington beam options, the option of twin rather than single engines provides a little more security as a saltwater proposition as well as a more road-friendly narrower beam.

Optional hydraulic jack plates on all engines allow for more secure handling in open water by dropping the engines lower in the water at the touch of a button. With the engines raised it also draws a mere 15in, giving the Harris the ability to sneak into shallow bays and creeks.

With outstanding quality and a huge range of customizable options, a Harris Crown fitted with twin 300hp Verados giving it a top speed in excess of 55 mph starts from just under $290,000.

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Best fishing pontoon boat: Sun Tracker Fishin Barge 20 DLX

With a starting price of just under $30,000 with a 90hp single outboard, this easily trailerable fishing pontoon boat provides excellent value for money and proven reliability.

Opt for the full $40,000 fishing package and it also includes a full road trailer as well as an almost silent electric trolling motor, fish finder, GPS, aerated livewell, rod holders, dedicated fishing chairs and removable table and stereo system, making the Sun Tracker arguably the best way for 6 people to enjoy a day’s back bay fishing.

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Best watersports pontoon boat: Bennington 25 RX Sport

The 28ft 2in Bennington 25 RX Sport is available with single Mercruiser sterndrive power options from 300hp to 430hp rather than the usual outboard engine.

With a capacity up to 17 people, depending on the layout, a highly specced example will cost upwards of $275,000. There’s more than enough speed for barefoot skiing and its multiple sun pads and chaise longues offer the ideal sunbathing platform.

A 8ft 6in wide bathing platform allows for easy boarding and the Bennington 25 RX Sport can be optioned with everything you need for a full day on the water.

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Best cruising pontoon boat: Tahoe 2585 Grand Tahoe QL

The Tahoe offers the best all-round features to make it an excellent cruising pontoon boat. With a single Mercury Verado 300hp outboard, the Tahoe tops out at around 45 mph, with an effective range of just under 160 miles at 15mph.

Starting at just under $110,000, the Tahoe can be specced with innovative lifting strakes on its three hulls that help promote an efficient cruise and soft ride.

The Tahoe is brimming with standard equipment but the few upgrades you’ll need to cater for cruising include an electric roof, Garmin MFD and ottoman cooler.

Even allowing for all those upgrades you will end up with change from $125,000, so it’s hardly surprising that Tahoe’s flagship is a favoured touring pontoon for family and friends.

This article Best pontoon boats: Latest models show why this style is so popular appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.

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Review: Monaco Yacht Show 2021

The yacht show saw a significant drop in visitors — and yachts — from 2019's edition. The post Review: Monaco Yacht Show 2021 appeared first on LUXUO.

Review: Monaco Yacht Show 2021
Image: Monaco Yacht Show

This year’s Monaco Yacht Show saw 19,000 visitors, a significant drop from the last edition of over 31,000 two years ago in 2019. The four-day event in September also saw a drop in yachts featured. There were 101 yachts compared to 125 in 2019.

Yachts shown ranged from Bluegame’s new BG72 to the 108m Benetti IJE. New features to the show also included invitation-only Wednesday, visitor badge categories, a sailing yacht section and the Yacht Design & Innovation Hub.

Travel restrictions and health regulations are possible reasons for the drop in attendance for this year’s show. The organisers have said they had expected a reduction in numbers for this year. The objective of this year’s yacht show was to decrease the number of visitors and emphasise on specific profiles and bridge connections between exhibitors and their targeted clientele.

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monaco yacht show
Image: Monaco Yacht Show

Theo Hooning, Secretary General of SYBAss (Superyacht Builders Association), said: “This was the first opportunity to see the results of a change in approach to the show, by placing the focus firmly on the customers of the industry rather than the business activities within it. The result was a more relaxed atmosphere. With no overcrowding of the quays, the experience for those customers was much more in line with the superyacht experience itself.”

The changes to the show followed feedback from exhibitors that began ahead of the cancellation of last year’s edition, with show organiser Informa creating an advisory Steering Committee made up of decision-makers from the yachting industry.

monaco yacht show 2021
Image: Monaco Yacht Show

On the day before the show, the Monaco Yacht Summit featured 60 owners, charterers, and future buyers. Participants had the opportunity to talk to designers, brokers, and builders about yacht construction, chartering or purchasing yachts.

The Monaco Yacht Show opened with the aforementioned invitation-only day on Wednesday, with 300 guests invited by the organisers. Targets included yacht owners and future yacht buyers and charterers and they were given a more exclusive experience as well as access to the Dockside Area.

The Yacht Design & Innovation Hub was also created to offer visitors an understanding of a custom yacht’s construction process. It featured lectures by yacht designers Espen Øino, Winch Design, Sam Sorgiovanni, Sinot Yacht Architecture and Design, and Luiz De Basto Designs.

monaco yacht show
Image: Monaco Yacht Show

Superyachts featured include the 95m Lürssen Kismet, the 94m Feadship Viva, and the 92m Nobiskrug Tatoosh were the next longest yachts on the display. The Nobiskrug Artefact and Bilgin Tatiana, both 80m, were also among 14 superyachts over 70m.

The new 65m Zazou was among five Benettis on show, and Damen Yachting premiered its 55m Time Off.

Azimut superyachts included its new 38m flagship Grande Trideck, Ferretti Group’s four-strong display featured the second Pershing 140, while seven Sunseeker builds include the yard’s new 90 Ocean, among five yachts exhibited by Sunseeker Monaco. 

Burgess, Camper & Nicholsons, Fraser and Northrop & Johnson were among the leading global brokerage houses, who represented almost 60 per cent of yachts on display. The new sailing area featured a dozen yachts, ranging from a Sunreef 80 sailing catamaran, Double Happiness, to the 54.3m Shenandoah of Sark built in 1902 and exhibited by Fraser, while the Swan 120 was among world premieres. 

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monaco yacht show
Image: Monaco Yacht Show

The total worth of superyachts on display were estimated to be worth around €3.6 billion. Gaëlle Tallarida, General Director of the Monaco Yacht Show, said: “We worked alongside stakeholders from across the industry to put on a show that meets their expectations and, more specifically, those of their clientele.”

“The 2021 MYS appears to have benefited from the excitement spurred by this reunion, as well as from the favourable state of the market, with an increase in yacht sales over the last 18 months. Clients have turned to yachting to escape the gloomy context that the pandemic has brought about and the frustration of having their freedom restricted.”

“Therefore, 2021 has been a win-win for everyone involved in yachting. Thanks to the Steering Committee founded this year, we intend to pursue our collaboration to further improve the MYS for the 2022 edition.” 

The next edition of the Monaco Yacht Show has been scheduled for September 28 2022 – October 1 2022.

For more yacht reads, click here.

The post Review: Monaco Yacht Show 2021 appeared first on LUXUO.

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