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January 28, 2009

Pursuit C 280

Pursuit finds the right mix with its C 280 Center Console

Repeat business is the lifeblood of the boating industry. Once customers buy a particular brand, every effort is made to cultivate long-term loyalty. Dealers do this by offering good customer service, while builders develop new models. And when those new models offer significant improvements over the predecessor, it's a winning combination for all involved.

Florida-based Pursuit Boats has followed this business plan for more than three decades. Without a lot of hype, it has consistently improved its lineup using the latest designs, construction techniques and attention to detail that are the hallmark of a successful builder. The C 280, a brand-new model from the keel up, is a perfect example. With Pursuit engineer Eric Hess as my guide, I checked out this midsize center console recently on a blustery Indian River.

For starters, the C 280 has classic center console lines. Sporting a gradual sheer, integrated transom and gentle radiuses throughout, it has the look of a serious fish boat. It also offers performance to match the profile. Hess told me the design team went to great lengths to fine-tune the hull for optimum performance. Starting with an aggressive stem, the running surface transitions to 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom. The spacious beam has wider chines aft, along with a transom step that was also shifted aft, away from the center of gravity. These characteristics allow a quick planing transition and improve midrange performance. Pursuit rigs all of its boats with dependable Yamaha outboards, and a pair of standard F250 four-strokes hung off the back of our test craft. That package proved to be an ideal combination for overall speed and fuel economy.

Since hazardous 10-foot seas offshore scuttled our plans to hunt for sailfish, we stayed inside the river instead. A strong Nor'easter turned the normally tranquil lagoon into a washboard chop and plunged water temperatures into the upper 50s. Hammering the digital throttles, the bow rose before quickly settling into a level attitude. Acceleration was responsive throughout the power curve. With power-assisted hydraulic steering and good sightlines at the helm, driving was effortless during several high-speed maneuvers. The stern refused to squat in tight turns, but instead powered out nicely. Hess and I remained bone-dry regardless of course heading, and there was no noticeable list even when drifting in beam-to seas. At 8,500-plus pounds of dry weight, this boat gives a solid ride befitting its rugged construction.

Besides excellent performance, this new model offers all the features needed for serious fishing without a lot of unnecessary stuff. In addition to its top-notch fit and finish, I always admired Pursuit's integration throughout a model line. Incorporating changes made previously on larger center consoles, the C 280 has several noteworthy refinements, starting with the bow.

A stainless-steel plow anchor tucks under the nose for a clean, functional look. The hatch on the rope locker is finished inside, and a windlass with remote control is an option. Access is easy with the level centerline deck, and the low-profile handrail provides security. Raised locking storage compartments will rack extra rods and other gear. The optional forward casting platform adds still more fishing functionality. Hinged forward, it raises to open the deep deck compartment below. Buckets, fenders and other bulky gear can be stored here, plus there's access to the 20-gallon water and holding tanks housed inside.