In typical fashion, the weather-guesser's forecast during my recent test of the Sailfish 238 Center Console was considerably "off." Instead of the predicted light chop and variable winds, a steady blow from the east had churned up some sloppy seas in the Gulf of Mexico. But it didn't matter, as the 238 Kingfish Tournament Edition was built specifically for such conditions, and the subsequent speed trials and offshore jaunt certainly proved its seaworthiness.
"The 238CC is designed for the hardcore offshore angler, where performance, function and durability are mandatory," says Denny Warren, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sailfish Boats. "It's eligible for the 23-and-Under Division in the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) tournament series, plus it also offers the entire family comfort for those kick-around days of just plain pleasure fishing."
The lateral stepped-hull design is the key to the 238's overall performance. Featuring a deep-vee bow entry and a variable multi-angle deadrise (22 to 24 degrees), it is fast, dry and stable. With twin 250-hp Yamaha HPDI outboards, 145 gallons of fuel and three people onboard, our top speed was an impressive 59.7 mph in the wind-driven chop. Dropping back to a 4000 rpm cruise, I marked 41.6 mph on my GPS while noting a fuel burn of only 21.9 gallons. At that rate, and factoring in a ten-percent safety reserve, the 238 has a 275-nautical-mile range, an important consideration for serious kingfish chasers. The boat tracked exceptionally well and the ride was featherbed-soft despite the choppy seas.
In addition to its seaworthy hull, the 238 is built to handle the rigors of tournament competition. The transom and Sailtech composite stringer system are foam-filled and glass-encapsulated for strength and longevity. Knitted laminates are reinforced in high-stress areas, and all stainless-steel hardware is through-bolted. Premium resins, stainless-steel and bronze through-hull fittings and a marine-grade electrical panel with breakers are more examples of the company's commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
As you'd expect from a serious fish boat, the 238 comes standard with a long list of fishing features. The deluxe leaning post is outfitted with a 60-gallon live well fed by a high-speed pickup. A 94-quart cooler with seat cushion is mounted in front of the console, and insulated fishboxes are integrated into the forward casting deck. Eight stainless-steel rod holders are standard, along with a recessed tackle box, transom sink/bait station and raw-water washdown. A fresh water shower with 13-gallon capacity is conveniently located on the aft deck.
The 238's center-console layout affords plenty of room to fight big kings and other finny adversaries. The aggressive non-skid provides ample traction in wet conditions, and the wide beam affords easy maneuverability. An integrated stainless-steel toe rail provides security in lumpy seas, while mid-thigh cockpit bolsters add comfort. The low-profile bow rail makes it easy to follow a fish when it makes that last-effort surge.
The oversized console is equipped with a large electronics-mounting area, acrylic windshield, compass and molded footrest. Its top also includes a unique vertical storage area with divided compartments and a guttered acrylic cover, which is ideal for keeping things like cell phones and binoculars close at hand. Hydraulic steering and high-performance trim tabs are standard as well.
Sailfish offers numerous options for the 238, especially where the family is concerned. Bow-cushion packages are optional, along with a folding aft seat, Bimini top, front dodger, swim platform and either a portable or fixed marine head. Additional fishing amenities can be ordered, but the best value is the custom fishing package. The optional pro tournament package adds another built-in tackle box, flush-mount cleats and bow light, leaning-post/backrest and deluxe T-top with spreader lights, rocket launchers and overhead storage. A cobia tower and outriggers are also available.
The Sailfish 238CC is deliberately sized in order to qualify for the SKA small-boat division, but it certainly doesn't perform like a small boat. It has plenty of fight and spunk, just like its billfish namesake.
Sailfish Boats, Cairo, GA; (229) 377-2125;