Move over Elton John; the Rocket Man is back! After introducing high-speed performance to competitive kingfishing a decade ago, Reggie Fountain has launched another racy sportfisher - the 38 Tournament Edition. And like its predecessors, this latest offering will be right at home in the winner's circle.
In keeping with its racing heritage, the most noticeable feature of the 38 TE is the hull design, which includes a notched transom, twin positive-lift steps for ventilation and a pad keel. The hull is made of composite, hand-laid fiberglass with high-density foam coring and vinylester resin. "This hull is basically the same as the one on our 35-foot Lightning Factory II-class boat that runs in excess of 100 mph," says Fountain's Clayton Kirby. "The 38 has a flatter stern for more stability, and the lift steps force air under the hull to give it a softer ride and better performance. We've used all our offshore racing knowledge to develop this one for fishing."
I certainly felt like an offshore racer while putting the 38-footer through sea trials with Kirby off Treasure Island, Florida. With triple 225-hp Mercury OptiMax engines and 480 gallons of fuel, we easily reached 54 mph at 4800 rpm, according to the installed GPS unit. Fountain's top-end performance numbers boast speeds in excess of 66 mph with the triple outboards, or a range of 575 miles at 42 mph.
Standard fuel capacity is 360 gallons, but you can add optional tanks to max out at 480 gallons. That makes this boat equally attractive to the kingfish crowd and the island-hopping big-game angler. With its ten-foot, six-inch beam, the 38 stayed atop the four-foot, wind-driven swell and "cornered like it was on rails," to steal a line from Pretty Woman. But the racing features don't stop there.
Offshore high-performance hydraulic power steering is standard, as are the trim tabs, Keikhafer Zero Effort controls and Gaffrig GPS/tachometer. Mercury SmartGauges are included when you choose OptiMax power.
The Fountain-built leaning post with fold-down footrest and room for three provides a reassuring command of the helm, along with room for a 150-quart cooler underneath. A T-top with radio/electronics box, six-rod rocket launcher and halogen lights is standard.
With the speed capabilities of the 38 TE, you'll reach the grounds quickly, and once there you'll enjoy a host of angling features. A 50-gallon transom live well and companion sink are standard, as are six rod holders in the gunwales and four more underneath. There are also four cavernous, in-deck fishboxes with split lids (to minimize ice loss), macerators and overboard drains. Total fishbox capacity is 706 gallons. Another insulated 25-quart cooler is located under the forward-facing console seat. Options include a choice of Lee or Rupp Top Gun outriggers, a combo leaning post with tackle center, and more rod holders in the transom.
The Tournament Edition features a non-skid surface for sure footing, plus the deck is grooved to channel water to the transom scuppers. An in-deck cockpit hatch allows easy access to the batteries, pumps, oil reservoirs and 36-gallon water tank.
Creature comforts are also an integral part of the 38's design. Inside the roomy console is a walk-in head with shower and sink. For truly impressive spaces, however, check out the cuddy cabin. The foredeck is large enough to handle a double hook-up on amberjack or a floating disco. Below, the cabin is outfitted with a 12-foot-plus, cushioned vee-berth and indirect lighting. The cushions conceal rod storage for eight outfits, plus there's additional storage in the forepeak. Cabin options include a galley with microwave, refrigerator and sink.
Galley aside, you'd be hard-pressed to add many more custom features to the 38 Tournament Edition. With its standard equipment, fuel and your fishing tackle, it's more than ready for a shotgun start, followed by a checkered-flag finish and trophy hardware.
Fountain, Washington, NC; (252) 975-2000;