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September 21, 2007

Boston Whaler 320 Outrage

Whaler's largest-ever center console is fast and fishing-functional.

Boston Whaler has never been a company to rest on its laurels. Even after building legendary boats for 45 years, it still seems driven by the mantra, "there's always room for improvement." With the debut of the 320 Outrage, however, Whaler may have finally topped itself.

For starters, the 320 represents the company's largest outboard-powered center console ever. With an overall length of 32' 2" and a beam slightly over ten feet, it was designed specifically for big-game trolling and bottom fishing. Standard power is twin 225-hp Mercury OptiMax outboards, but 250-hp EFIs or Optis are optional. Our test boat was rigged with the EFI engines, and it produced a top speed of just over 50 mph with full fuel, water and three persons aboard. It turned 35.6 mph effortlessly while cruising at 4000 rpm and burned 39.8 gph, equaling a range of more than 240 statute miles. Factory tests with the XS Optis produced even higher speeds and greater fuel economy.

Boston Whaler 320 OutrageTo compensate for the increased size of the 320, the Outrage's proven Accutrack hull design was modified slightly to enhance performance. Whaler Senior Design Engineer Keith Ranieri added a triangular-shaped stern keel pad to provide additional lift for the larger hull, which in turn enables it to get on plane quicker. Once on plane, the keel pad is neutralized. An integrated Euro-style engine bracket (with transom gate), another first for Whaler, moves the rudders farther away from the running surface for better maneuverability, as well. The 320 has a sharp bow entry, 23-degree transom deadrise and foam-filled Unibond construction, which gives it a very soft, solid ride (plus unsinkable flotation, says Whaler). We remained dry and comfortable throughout our test, even with occasional six-footers lingering from a record-breaking cold front.

Besides impressive performance, the 320 Outrage offers hard-core angling capability without sacrificing comfort. The prep station is located behind the helm seats and includes a 45-gallon live well, enclosed tackle boxes, tool rack and cutting board, plus a sink and raw-water washdown. The cockpit interior freeboard is 28 inches high, and bolsters and a stainless-steel toe rail are standard. A full-beam cushioned transom bench folds out of the way once the action starts, and the thickly padded custom helm seats with flip-up bolsters offer the option of stand-up or sit-down operation.

The 320's helm is ergonomically arranged to keep the operator relaxed and in the game. Gauges and switches are within easy reach, and the tempered-glass windshield offers excellent visibility. In addition to electric trim tabs, hydraulic steering and a stainless-steel steering wheel are standard. The electronics mounting area (large enough for 12-inch displays) is positioned to prevent neck strain. A rugged fiberglass hardtop is standard also, and comes equipped with flood and dome lights, and five-rod rocket launcher. Radial outriggers are optional. Welded topside steps, a folding hatch and molded non-skid make adding second controls or a spotting tower easy.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 32' 2"
Beam: 10' 2"
Draft: 1' 10"
Weight w/o power: 8,500 lbs.
Deadrise: 23 ¿
Water: 40 gals.
Max hp: 600
Fuel: 300 gals.
Price as tested: $143,633

Tackle storage is definitely a non-issue aboard this latest Outrage. That's because there is enough dedicated storage for 24 outfits, including a unique, folding vertical rack in the lockable console and dual locking deck racks forward. There are also four molded downrigger-weight cradles in the cockpit. Storing the day's catch shouldn't be a problem, either. Two 80-gallon fishboxes aft and a 100-gallon box in the forward deck are macerated and insulated by the Unibond construction. Another 100-gallon deck box serves as a cooler.

The 320's standard 40-gallon fresh water system features a transom shower and a pull-out shower in the console sink. The head is also equipped with a VacuFlush toilet and dockside pump-out. Another first is a through-hull anchoring system that includes a third fresh water washdown in the anchor locker, along with a windlass and its remote control. The entire setup is easily accessible yet unobtrusive.

From bow to stern, the 320 Outrage represents a new era for Boston Whaler. In addition to durability and performance, you can now add functional style and bluewater readiness to the long list of Outrage features. Boston Whaler, Edgewater, FL; (386) 428-0057; www.bostonwhaler.com.