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September 21, 2007

Scout 260 Sportfish

The Scout 260 Sportfish combines the best of old and new.

With an eye toward the recent retro trend in the automotive industry, Scout Boats has launched a new center console that combines state-of-the-art engineering and design with the look and style of a classic fish boat. With its seaworthy hull and lengthy list of standard features, the 260 Sportfish should prove popular with weekend and tournament anglers alike.

I had the chance to test the 260 recently in a choppy Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, with Scout President Steve Potts. The boat handled the real-world conditions with ease. It was rigged with a pair of Yamaha F150TXR four-stroke outboards, which provided good initial acceleration and top-end speed (a single 250-hp Yamaha four-stroke is the other power option). The GPS pegged out at 50.5 mph with the two of us aboard, 95 gallons of fuel and six gallons of water. At a comfortable cruise of 4000 rpm, speed was 33.7 mph, with a fuel burn of 12.9 gph. At that rate, the 260 has a 296-nautical-mile range with its 145-gallon tank and a ten-percent safety reserve.

Handling was also impressive. The 260's hull features a sharp bow entry, 20-degree transom deadrise and outward-stepped strakes for a ride that was comfortably soft and dry in all directions, despite the stiff wind. The hull responded immediately to the standard trim tabs. Tilt hydraulic steering is also standard.

Scout 260 SportfishThe large and ergonomic console on the 260 sports a James Bond-like feature - turn the ignition key off and an opaque Plexiglas cover electronically lowers to protect the flush-mount electronics against theft and the elements. The beige textured highlight on the console - another trend borrowed from Detroit- is stylish and cuts down on glare. An oversized T-top with electronics box, spreader lights and rocket launcher is also standard. Its D-shaped aluminum tubing reinforces the classic look, and Scout claims the design is stronger structurally than conventional round tubing.

But the 260 Sportfish is more than good looking - it's a serious offshore fishing machine. The aft section of the starboard gunwale incorporates a 27-gallon bait well and sink, plus several tackle drawers and storage compartments. The port side houses a deep, insulated fishbox with overboard drain. Both bulkhead configurations are cantilevered above the deck, with rounded edges for integral and functional toe kicks. The removable wave gate/stern seat is standard, as is a complete bolster set and bow cushion seat.

The bow casting deck is slightly raised and houses 120-quart port and starboard insulated fishboxes with deep gutters and thick gaskets to prevent water intrusion. A large dry-storage box is positioned on the centerline, aft of the two-part anchor locker that is big enough to house a vertical windlass, along with fenders and dock lines.

Our test boat was outfitted with the optional deluxe leaning-post equipped with a 55-gallon bait well. The well's clear-acrylic window lets in plenty of light so it's easy to net the bait. This leaning post also includes a second tackle-storage compartment with dual Plano boxes and a switch that allows you to change from raw water to the 15-gallon fresh water system.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 26' 2"
Beam: 8' 10"
Draft: 15"
Weight (hull only): 3,000 lbs.
Deadrise: 20˚
Fuel: 145 gals.
Water: 15 gals.
Max. hp: 300
Base price w/ twin Yamaha F150TXR four-stroke outboards: $85,009

The roomy, bright head compartment allows access to the standard Clarion stereo/CD player, as well as the batteries and dual bilge pumps. There are also access panels for the electronics and wiring harnesses. A porta-potty or porcelain marine head with manual holding tank are available options. Other possible accessories include a battery charger, TACO Grand Slam outriggers and LED trim-indicator switch.

The Scout 260 Sportfish may be too big to tow behind a Chrysler PT Cruiser, but it'll be a perfect match with a classic restored pickup. Better still, idle one through the marina and see how quick the heads turn as this stylish center console goes back to the future.

Scout Boats, Summerville, SC; (843) 821-0068; www.scoutboats.com.