In a recent kingfish tournament in the Gulf of Mexico, Yellowfin Yachts owner Wylie Nagler, at the helm of his company's new 36-footer, left the dock last, in a field of nearly 40 boats that were headed offshore through some 60 miles of six-to-tens. He got there first.
The Yellowfin 36 is all about speed and light-tackle fishing. There are no frills, no showers, no fluff. Race-boat performance and dryness make it fishable in a lot of conditions you just might prefer not to be in. But that's why Nagler built the 36. It's a logical step beyond Yellowfin's successful 31-footer, with some significant hull modifications to account for the demands of an additional five feet of waterline. For one thing, the bottom features two separate steps. The theory here is that the only way to loosen up a hull for more speed is to introduce air under it. Further vacuum is avoided by two pair of planing strakes that break and offset at each step, effectively creating four strakes on each side. A pad keel runs down the centerline, and has a deadrise that's slightly different than the rest of the hull. This expanded keel keeps the boat from falling off keel at high speed, and eliminates the subsequent chine walking that can ensue.
Above 60 mph, everything changes, it seems, and considerations of stability and safety take on new urgency. This is a hull designed for high speed, and with Nagler's background in offshore racing, there's no reason to doubt his theories. This hull combines a wide, flared bow and a graceful tapering sheer, and provides the 36 with classic lines and an exceptionally dry ride.
The racing pedigree of the Yellowfin is evident in the rigging, too, with Latham throttles and steering providing the control for high performance. Yellowfin ships the 36 with twin, 225-hp four-stroke Hondas, but also offers Mercury and Yamaha power options.
Our test boat was rigged with Mercury ProMax 300-hp racing motors - three of them - which begs the question of performance and fuel economy, which can be summed up easily: Fuhgeddaboutit. You'll pump enough petrol through this rig to give a Saudi sheik's son an Ivy League education. It's gonna run you a case of oil shy of a thousand-dollar bill just to fill up at the marina. If it's economy you want, keep shopping. If you want speed and performance and are willing to pony up for the privilege, and fuel-burn figures like 90 gallons an hour don't slow you down, you're in the right aisle.
Fuel capacity on the 36 is 360 gallons standard, with an option of 550 gallons. The fiberglass tanks are integral, meaning they are fiberglass, molded into the stringer system at the lay-up stage, rather than aluminum or stainless drop-ins.
Our day on the water was uneventful. The sloppy, two-foot ground-swell, topped by a wind chop, was a far cry from the six-footers Nagler wanted in order to showcase the 36. But conditions did provide a chance to see just how much power is harnessed in those 36 feet, as evidenced by the neck-snapping acceleration from a loaf-along speed of 40 mph. We were loaded heavy, with 400 gallons of fuel, so 6400 rpm brought us right up to 68.5 mph. Leave a man on the dock and lighten up the fuel load and you can get 70 out of it. That's not likely to be the way you'd run for a day of fishing, but it makes the manufacturer's claim of running 56 mph with six-to-tens off the stern quarter entirely feasible.
So the thing runs, but does it fish? All the components are here. A 13-inch covering board allows you to carry a full castnet from the bow clear around to the cockpit without having to climb down off the gunwale. A 60-gallon live well behind the leaning post features a second Lucite cover inside to pressurize the tank, prevent spillage and keep the bait from getting beaten up. A second 25-gallon well sits in the transom bulkhead.
All hardware is flush-mounted, from the twin cleats on the bow to the hatch locks in the cockpit sole. Stainless Gemlux hardware is used throughout, with the exception of the gunwale rod holders, which are made by Pompanette. Rod holders are mounted at the rear of the cockpit, so rods ride safely and stay in place at speed. Under-gunwale storage for rods is carpeted for protection. Trim-tab pumps are located above the cockpit sole to make service easy. All through-hull fittings are stainless and equipped with ball valves, and all electrical connections beneath the deck are waterproof.
Storage bins and fishboxes are voluminous. The forward locker will hold six five-gallon buckets - roughly 130 gallons of space. Aft of this is a 130-gallon fishbox. Lids on these oversized bins raise on Imtra stainless gas shocks, so opening them is an easy one-man operation. Lockers to port and starboard provide lots of hidden space for gear and tackle, protected belowdecks. All hatches are gasketed and the fishboxes drain through a macerator pump. A lipped shelf runs along both sides of the boat and around the bow, below the coaming, providing handy storage for anything you might want to get your hands on in a hurry. A coiled washdown hose resides in the rear starboard corner of this shelf.
The console is roomy, with plenty of space for two 10.4-inch displays mounted side-by-side. The standard T-top with overhead electronics box is well equipped with sturdy, integrated grab bars right where you want them. Headroom inside the console is six feet, three inches with the twin-engine configuration. Rigged triple, the optional 550-gallon gas tank eats up the interior console space.
Nagler stays plenty busy, building 25 to 30 boats a year, with a four- to five-month wait list. Older Yellowfins, if you can find them, consistently fetch within ten percent of their original price on the used market. Yellowfin shows a successful consistency in the 36, where top dollar buys you top quality and top performance.
Yellowfin Yachts, Sarasota, FL; (941) 753-7828;