Boat Review: Sea Born FX22 Tournament

Here’s another welcome addition to Sea Born’s bay-boat lineup.

In the normal scenario, boat builders develop and incorporate new designs into a targeted model, then apply similar improvements to other boat sizes afterward to complete a specific line. With the introduction of the FX25, its hybrid bay boat, Sea Born followed this plan to perfection last year. The Georgia builder is now continuing the process with the FX22, a true tournament boat that’s also proven a capable multitasker. With the help of Shields Marina in historic St. Marks, Florida, I had the opportunity to see just what this 22-footer can do. My conclusion: a lot!

For starters, this is one of the biggest 22s out there, with tons of storage and fishing room. The large bow casting deck features the Sea Freeze divided icebox with extra insulation on the centerline. Another sizable storage compartment is located forward, and there are two companion boxes outboard to rack rods or other gear. The bow holds a dedicated anchor locker pre-wired for trolling motors. And for easy cleaning, all hatches on the FX22 are fully finished on both sides.

You’ll find a 32-quart baitwell under the forward console seat, a 35-quart well with clear Plexiglas lid on the aft center casting deck and an 80-quart fish box to port. All are foam insulated and equipped with 1,000 gph pumps with seacocks, stainless through-hulls and high-speed pickups. The baitwells are ­finished in blue and rigged with blue LED lights. Additional rod storage ­includes six holders in the center console, four more in the leaning post, plus horizontal rod racks under the gunwales.

The aft deck includes two ­folding jump seats for passengers. The standard leaning post has a storage bin beneath the cushion, an integrated footrest and a cooler. On the console, you'll find backlit-LED rocker switches and push‑button circuit breakers, a 12-volt power port, and a stainless-steel steering wheel with knob augmented by standard hydraulic steering. A convenient glove box offers quick access to cellphones and other necessities, while the roomy electronics panel accommodates a large display. For those ­with low clearance considerations, the console windshield and handrail drop with a few quick ­adjustments. Premium upholstery with two-tone patterns adds a stylish look.

In addition to the aforementioned standard ­features, the optional LE package includes a raw-­water washdown, console tackle center, cockpit coaming bolsters, marine stereo, tilt steering and a T-top with electronics box. All FX22 models come standard with a 10-year transferable hull warranty, all-composite construction, self-bailing cockpit and an advanced fiberglass stringer system. ­Quality ­components are evident throughout, and the fit and finish is right in line with Sea Born’s noteworthy attention to detail.

As on its larger sibling, the hull of the FX22 features twin steps for enhanced ­performance and fuel economy. The test model was powered by the new 2.8 ­liter Yamaha F200XB, which proved an ideal match. With a weight of just 489 pounds and an impressive hole shot, this power plant produced a top speed of nearly 50 mph at 5,800 rpm. During Yamaha’s factory performance tests, the 22 sipped only 5.4 gph at its 3,500 rpm sweet spot, producing a range of 4.83 mpg at 26.1 mph. With a 52-gallon fuel ­capacity, that works out to an ­awful lot of fishing time.

Yamaha four-strokes are not the only power choice: The FX22 can also be ordered with Suzuki or Mercury four-stroke packages ­ranging from 150 up to 250 hp or Mercury ­two-stroke Optimax engines up to 250 hp. Bob’s jack plates, ­Power-Pole anchor systems and trim tabs are ­available performance options.

I wanted to see how the twin-stepped hull performed during sudden maneuvers, and it didn’t disappoint. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the stern to break loose, even in quick, hard turns. As noted, initial acceleration was fluid, and the bow settled nicely for unobstructed sight lines. Even with the motor trimmed way up, handling was very similar to expensive sports cars I’ve driven — deft, sure and exhilarating. The boat cut through the chop like a finely honed fillet knife. It was also very stable at rest, despite a deadrise of 17 degrees at the transom. I walked up and down the gunwales without noticing the slightest roll. This is truly a fun one to drive and, I expect, even more fun to fish.

If you’re looking for a hard-core fishing machine that’s equally adept at nearshore trolling or drifting the inshore flats, be sure to take a good look at the FX22. And if you also need a boat that’ll double for family outings at the beach without breaking the bank, definitely put this one on the shortlist.

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The 2SG Double Step Hull design on the Sea Born FX22 eats up a chop and provides improved performance and handling.
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The divided Sea Freeze compartment in the forward ­casting deck has extra insulation to keep the day’s catch fresh.
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Twin aft jump seats feature stylish upholstery and they afford passengers a safe and comfortable boat ride.
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A clear lid on the aerated 35-quart transom livewell makes it easy to keep an eye on your tournament catch or the live bait supply.
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