Century 2.0 has launched! The Great Recession claimed more than its share of marine-industry stalwarts, but the good news is that one of them is back with a flourish. Century Boats has resumed production in central Florida under a new ownership group. The venerable brand has undergone several major improvements in the transition, while still offering Yamaha outboards as the factory-matched power. During its reintroduction on Sarasota Bay recently, I tested several new models, including the versatile 2600 Center Console.
Under the premise of if-it’s-not-broken-why-fix-it, the hull of the 2600 is true to its original Yamaha design, retaining a sharp entry and 20-degree deadrise at the transom. But that’s where most similarities to the first generation end. The new models are built with the latest materials available using quad-axis fiberglass and vinylester resins. The composite molded-fiberglass stringer system is bonded, and then glassed to the hull. For the final step, the deck cap is bonded to the hull for unitized durability and negligible flex. The result is a solid ride that handles the chop like a razor blade.
Topside, the 2600 sports a modern look as well. Gone is the integrated fiberglass bow pulpit, replaced by the standard windlass. Prospective owners have a choice of 10 hull colors, and the upholstery is accented handsomely with the company logo. The large console offers the requisite room for electronics, an integrated footrest, and heavy-duty rocker switches that are mounted low for easy accessibility yet remain unobtrusive. The starboard-opening head compartment is roomy and equipped with a Porta-Potti. Quick access to the wiring and controls is also available through these spaces. There is one holdover from the past: You’ll still find fixed cleats, but they’ll be replaced with pop-up versions in the next model year.
Our test boat was rigged with an optional fiberglass hardtop with an overhead electronics box. To say it’s overbuilt is an understatement. Constructed with Schedule 80 aluminum tubing and anchored at numerous stress points, it’s ready for whatever Mother Nature can throw at it. Spreader lights fore and aft, plus a four-rod rocket launcher are included with this option.
Sportsmen are going to appreciate the many angling features on this improved 26-footer. The deck layout offers aggressive nonskid for sure footing, an integrated engine bracket for maximizing cockpit space, and a level deck forward for fishing and docking ease. The optional leaning post has flip-back bolsters, another four-rod launcher across the back, and a large tackle storage center. A 94-quart cooler nestles underneath. Additional rod storage is available in the horizontal racks with locking covers under the gunwales. There’s a rigging station in the port corner of the transom with raw- and freshwater washdowns, along with a 42-gallon livewell with acrylic hatch on the starboard side. In between is a comfortable bench seat with a removable backrest. The day’s catch can be stowed in 144-quart deck boxes amidships, plus there is more storage space in the bow.
All compartment hatches are fully finished for easy cleanup, and come with sturdy gas-lift shocks and stainless-steel hardware. Thick, wraparound cockpit coaming bolsters are mounted at a comfortable midthigh height for lengthy stand-up battles. Everywhere you look, it’s easy to tell these boats are built for serious anglers, by serious anglers.
Signs of quality construction and attention to detail are evident throughout. The battery-management panel in the port cockpit is neatly labeled and organized, and it’s also enclosed to seal out the elements. Snug hatches, orderly wire harnesses and durable deck hardware are still more examples of a commitment to value.
The maximum horsepower rating on the 2600 is 450, although it zipped along nicely with the twin F200 four-strokes rigged on the stern. It spun up to nearly 53 mph at 6,000 rpm. Pulling the throttles back to 4,500 rpm, the GPS still recorded a speed of 39 mph while averaging 17.1 gallons of hourly fuel burned between the two engines. With a fuel capacity of 184 gallons, that works out to a lot of fishing time.
The 2600 is fun to drive too. It’s nimble and aggressive coming out of the hole with little bow rise. It ate up a wind-blown chop in the bay, and kept us dry regardless of heading. Hydraulic steering is standard, and the hull responds nicely to tab adjustment. In other words, this is a boat that can run offshore comfortably without breaking your back or budget.
Century is ramping up its dealer network and will be exhibiting at major boat shows going forward. Meantime, the versatile and capable 2600 is back, and it’s better than ever