I tend to group center consoles into three performance categories: "school-bus safe," "left-lane cruise" and "speeding fines doubled." The boats from Yellowfin Yachts definitely belong in the last category and, judging by its latest offering, it doesn't look like the company is about to slow down anytime soon. Designed for the 23-foot-and-under king mackerel tournament circuit, the Yellowfin 23 is a hardcore hot rod worthy of checkered flags, regardless of the trophy.
I joined company president Wylie Nagler for a ride across a very frothy Sarasota Bay on the west coast of Florida. An unseasonable cold front had whipped the water into a confused three- to four-foot chop, but Nagler and I stayed bone-dry in all headings, and the entire ride was featherbed soft. In short, the boat passed its real-world test with flying colors.
"Some manufacturers try to build fishing boats from go-fast hulls, but our philosophy has always been to design fishing boats that go fast," Nagler said. "Our padded stepped-hull design delivers unequaled speed and rough-water performance, plus it's very fuel-efficient with either single or twin engines." The test results certainly supported that claim.
Despite the stiff wind and lumpy conditions, my GPS recorded a top speed of 59.2 mph. At a 4000 rpm cruise, the boat did 41.1 mph while burning 17.7 gph of fuel with twin Yamaha 200-hp HPDI outboards. At that rate, and with the standard 160-gallon fuel capacity, the 23 has a range of 290 miles with a ten-percent safety reserve. If that's not enough, fuel capacity can be increased to a maximum 215 gallons as an option.
Nagler sells his boats direct from the factory. Because of that, custom configurations and certain options are available. Two-tone hull colors, built-in transom tackle boxes, a fresh water washdown system and electronics packages are the typical add-ons, but generally the list of standard equipment includes everything necessary for serious angling pursuits, including a Loadmaster aluminum, dual-axle trailer with disc brakes. For example, the console can be outfitted with or without a 75-gallon forward coffin-box cooler. A beefy T-top with overhead electronics box and four-rod rocket launcher surrounds the helm. The tilting stainless-steel destroyer wheel with power knob and Teleflex hydraulic steering is standard, along with a Ritchie compass, custom lighted switch panel and lockable electronics station. Underneath the comfortable leaning post you'll find the oil reservoir and more lockable storage. Batteries and wiring are accessible through the port console hatch.
A large, dependable live well is mandatory for successful tournament fishing, and the 23's is conveniently housed in the transom. With a 55-gallon capacity and 1,100-gph Shurflo pumps, it'll keep baits in top shape all day. When it comes to stowing the day's catch, a large, macerated fishbox in the foredeck, along with two more in the cockpit, will hold plenty of ice and trophy kings. A salt water washdown system is standard.
Thick, wraparound coaming pads allow comfortable positioning during protracted fights, while the boat's aggressive non-skid provides sure traction. A pop-up Gemlux bow light and cleats ensure a clean and tangle-free look. Rods can be housed either underneath the gunwales or in holders in the covering boards.
As you'd expect from a semi-custom manufacturer, the Yellowfin 23 is built to last. Gemlux stainless-steel through-hulls and ball valves, O-rings on all hatches, and tinned copper wiring with Deutsch marine connectors are standard. The boat also comes with a five-year limited, transferable warranty on the all-composite hull.
In spite of their size, "football" yellowfin tuna are fast, fish-catching machines. The same can be said of the Yellowfin 23 center console.
Yellowfin Yachts, Sarasota, FL; (941) 753-7828; www.yellowfinyachts.com.