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September 21, 2007

Wellcraft Scarab Sport 29

High-speed performance is often the difference between winning and losing in fishing tournaments. With that in mind, it's no wonder the recent debut of Wellcraft's Scarab Sport line of center consoles has the docks buzzing. With its racing heritage and design input from winning anglers, the new 29-footer (the smallest of the three models available) is already turning heads.

We tested the 29 last summer in Sarasota Bay, and it performed as expected, slicing through the chop like the proverbial hot knife through butter. The boat was fast, nimble and seaworthy, traits that will garner respect from the run-and-gun king mackerel and sailfish crowd. The performance numbers are also what you'd expect from a Scarab. According to Wellcraft's engineering data, the 29 will do 57 mph at 5660 rpm, and cruise at 41.4 mph at 4000 rpm, with twin 225 Mercury OptiMax engines. Combine the miserly consumption of the Opti outboards and a fuel capacity of 214 gallons, and that translates into a lot of range.

Race-Boat Heritage

The 29 hull is derived from the traditional Scarab vee-bottom design Wellcraft has been building (and using to win races) for more than 20 years. It features a modified pad with a concave shape for lift and handling characteristics. It also incorporates the company's Step-Lift II design with forward strakes. The strakes trap water and hold it down, which helps lift the boat. The end result is improved performance.

"The 29 was built with serious anglers in mind, thanks to design input from our five Wellcraft SKA teams," explained Bill Vanik, Wellcraft's Vice President for Product Development and Engineering. "But she'll also perform as a Sunday afternoon people-hauler, so whether you're a hard-core angler or a recreational boater who likes to fish, dive or enjoy other water activities, this boat can do it all."

Wellcraft didn't skimp on angling amenities when building this boat. It's one pure fishing machine from bow to stern. The Euro-style transom is the first stop in terms of overall fishability. A 37-gallon port live well in the transom top will handle plenty of frisky baits, while the bait-prep station to starboard provides a convenient spot for rigging. There's a stowaway bench seat for two built into the transom, plus handy access to both the bilge area and the electronics panel.

A transom step to port allows for easy engine maintenance.Great Fishing FeaturesTerminal tackle can be stowed in the three-tray locker built into the leaning post, with room for a big cooler underneath. There are also holders for four rods in the rocket launcher, with more rod storage available in the gunwales, below the gunwales in horizontal (and lockable) racks, and in the optional canvas T-top holders. The T-top option also features two spreader lights and a radio box.

Keeping the day's catch iced down won't be a problem aboard the 29 Scarab. There are two large, insulated fishboxes in the deck aft, plus two more on either side of the console. If that's not enough room for you, you can add an optional forward coffin box (with cushion), plus there's another large stowage box in the bow deck.

Seating is also plentiful on the 29. The folding transom bench, twin padded helm chairs and a console seat forward can accommodate the largest of crews. The console is ergonomically designed and features considerable room for electronics. The forward console seat raises on pneumatic lifts to provide access to the head with sink and toilet. This space is very roomy, with plenty of headroom (at six-foot-two, I barely had to duck). Inside are two hatches for wiring access, plus the Clarion stereo system. The stereo's remote control is mounted on the console, below the standard Danforth compass.

Serious anglers will appreciate the clean lines and thoughtful design features of the 29 Scarab. Coaming pads, a recessed toe rail in the bow, a recessed stainless bow hand rail and pop-up cleats all make it easier to throw a cast net or fight a big fish. And the optional windlass and standard pulpit will save wear and tear on your back when it's time to pull the anchor. It all adds up to a turnkey tournament contender.

But there's more. Wellcraft's FirstMate program can help with myriad boating-related situations. Purchase the boat and you're automatically enrolled when you register your warranty. You can call toll-free, 24/7, and a real live person will help with technical support, dockage, bait shops and slip or dinner reservations. And if you happen to stay out too long with your buddies, FirstMate can even order flowers! Now that's what we call boating insurance.

Wellcraft Marine Corp., Sarasota, FL; (941) 753-7811; www.wellcraft.com.