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September 21, 2007

Island Runner 31

Running fast and fishing hard is this boat's mission.

If fast and light is part of your recipe for fishing, then the Island Runner 31 demands a close look. Increasingly, getting to the fishing grounds in a hurry is something anglers take seriously, and this is a boat that's hard to hold back.

Our test day off Palm Beach was a tough one. Waves with shoulders jostled for position off the beach, but our boat cleaved them clean and dry, just about what you'd expect from a 31-foot hull with an 8 1/2-foot beam and a 60-degree entry. It slices rough water like a wahoo on a mono leader. Length combined with ex-ceptionally light weight keeps this boat on top.

The basic 31 has been in production since the early '90s, but the lay-up and design recently underwent a complete overhaul. Materials and methods of construction have been thoroughly revamped in this latest incarnation.

The hull is vacuum-bagged Core-Cell over hand-laid, knitted fiberglass, completely wood-free. There's half an inch of foam on the sides, an inch on the bottom and 1 1/2 inches at the transom, all of it laid up with structural adhesive putty pulled through the foam under vacuum, which yields an exceptional combination of light weight and strength.

Our test boat was set up with a pair of Mercury 250 EFIs, which, according to manufacturer's figures, push the hull along at a 46 mph cruise speed at 4200 rpm, getting 1.4 mpg. Another popular power option is a pair of Mercury OptiMax 225-hp outboards, which cruise at 42 mph at the same 4200 rpm and gain a more economical 2.2 mpg. Top speed at 5700 rpm is 68 mph with the EFI 250s and 62 mph with the OptiMax 225s. Standard beneath the deck is a 220-gallon, 3/16"-aluminum, epoxy-coated fuel tank.

Motors hang on the integrated Euro-transom/swim platform, which features a shower and can be reachable though a transom door on the starboard side. The rest of the transom holds a 50-gallon live well - lined with sky-blue gelcoat to keep the bait happy - and a bait-prep sink in the port corner. The recessed portion of the bait center is a drop-in liner, which lifts out to provide access to pumps, filters and assorted mechanical systems located within the transom. Outside the cockpit and reachable from the transom platform are the oil-fills, which lead to reservoirs mounted below the prep center.

A drop-down seat with removable backrest runs the width of the transom, so passengers don't have to stand alongside the console on long runs to the fishing grounds. Under-gunwale rod racks hold up to six rods. The capped construction produces overhanging covering boards all around the interior of the hull, providing a place to lean and plenty of toe room.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 31' 4"
Beam: 8' 6"
Draft: 20"
Weight: 3,500 lbs.
Fuel: 220 gals.
Water: 30 gals.
Transom deadrise: 24 ¿
Max. hp: 500
Base price w/o power: $62,500

Additional rod holders line the rear of the leaning post, which comes in three different versions: the standard holds a 94-quart cooler; the deluxe features tackle storage and four rod holders, and the third version offers an additional 35-gallon live well.

The console is well laid out, with plenty of vertical space for flush-mounting electronics. The interior space offers a full six feet of headroom and includes a shower, sink, head and plenty of storage. Batteries and switches are mounted behind a bulkhead panel inside the console.

The front of the console incorporates a built-in seat/110-quart cooler combination with a very slick design. The lid is split 60-40 with hinges on the ends, rather than along the back edge of the lid. This allows you to access the cooler without raising the entire seat. It makes a lot of sense.

In the floor, just forward of the console, is a huge dry-storage bin that can hold buckets, nets and lifejackets. Forward of that, set into the raised casting platform, are a pair of matching storage areas - one for dry storage and the other an insulated 380-quart fishbox that drains overboard. In the bow deck, the anchor locker features a vertical standpipe slotted to hold a Danforth-style anchor. Cleats and bow lights are all pop-up, and all latches are flush-fitting Gemlux electropolished stainless. The bow deck provides plenty of space for throwing a castnet.

A fishing boat that travels or a traveling boat that fishes - take your pick. The Island Runner 31 handles either job with ease.

Island Runner, Riviera Beach, FL, (561) 863-9989; www.islandrunner.com.
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