Home' Afloat : AFLOAT October 2016 Contents 52 AFLOAT.com.au October 2016
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
Most of us have had relationships
with outboards. Some have been
rocky, others affectionate, and
there are those that ended acrimoniously.
Of course, engine brands evoke great
tribalism. Loyalty can be bought through
endorsements. It’s hard to know what’s
real out there.
I’ve certainly had my share of outboard
engines, been exposed to their at-times
cantankerous natures, sucked their fumes,
listened to their whine, and embraced the
refinement of the new generation. I can
also say, hand on heart, I ’m not endorsed.
So my experiences with the Evinrude,
Suzuki, Yamaha, Mercury and, to a lesser
degree Honda, are real, impartial, and
consumer-based. Which is best? They
all have their good and not-so models.
Impartially, I ’ve had a great run with
Yamaha. That’s just the fact of the matter
for me. Your mileage might differ.
Sentiment aside, there is one uniting
thing about outboard engines today
and that is their increasing relevance.
Outboards are supplanting inboards,
multi-racks of outboards are becoming de
rigueur, and more outboard horsepower is
pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
Following the 2016 Sydney International
Boat Show, in a recent interview with
Mark Schwabero, the CEO of Brunswick
Corporation, which owns 20 marine boat
brands including Mercur y outboards and
inboards, I asked about the future of
outboard and inboard power.
While Schwabero was praising his new
4.5L and 6.2L inboard petrol engines, most
of our discussion revolved around new
outboard-powered boats and technology.
Mercury is finding unprecedented business
with its supercharged six-cylinder 200 to
350hp Verado FourStroke outboards and
its 400hp Race variant is a beast that pulls
At the same time, competitors like
Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP)
have released new Evinrude ETEC direct-
injection two-stroke outboards; Yamaha is
trading off its reliability across the range;
Suzuki has some real innovation in the
smaller horsepower; and an invitation to
a Honda press reveal for a new line-up of
outboards has just lobbed on my desk.
It’s a busy market.
This is to say nothing of the V8
outboards – Yamaha’s 350hp is being
installed in racks of up to four engines
on large centre consoles; while the 557hp
and 627hp from Seven Marine in the USA
take the breath away. These 6.2L GM V8s
are the most powerful outboard engines
in the world today.
Of course, as part of the Non-
Road Spark Ignition Engine Emissions
legislation, the old two-stroke carburetted
outboards are on borrowed time. That
love-hate relationship you had or have with
your pull-start carby two-stroke will end.
Existing engines won’t be banned, but new
stock and production will be phased out.
Four-strokes and direct-injection two-
stroke outboards are the way of the future.
Everyone agrees on that.
In the bottom end, lightweight and
affordability will remain key selling points,
especially where portability and tinnies
and tenders are concerned. But in the
mid-range, efficiency and performance
come into play. Moving into the higher
horsepower ranges, today’s high-tech
outboards can be transformative to the
point they leave inboards in their wake.
Even conser vative family inboard
boatbuilders like Whittley are jumping
on board the outboard wagon, offering
new OB versions of models like its 2080
trailerable cruiser. With a 115hp outboard
versus a 200hp V6 inboard, this boat is
almost $10k cheaper. There are other
advantages, not least being the fact you
can get right in close to the beach and
trim the leg up.
But I was transported to the next level
of outboard transitioning just a few days
prior to penning this column when, on
the Gold Coast, two key boats from that
aforesaid marine behemoth, Brunswick
Corporation, rolled down the ramp near
SeaWorld, as I wiped the juice from a
freshly devoured spanner crab from my
The first review boat was a Boston
Whaler 230 Vantage, a fishing and family
hybrid, with the new option of more
outboard power, namely a 350hp where a
300hp was previously tops. This boat hit
more than 50mph on the old scale, no pun
intended, and added sports performance
to the equation.
The second, more telling sign of where
we are heading, was the Sea Ray 290
Sundeck. Sea Ray needs no introduction,
nor does the bowrider boat layout. But
whereas this boat would normally run
a V8 petrol inboard (that option is still
available), we had the twin 225hp outboard
The powerboat market is booming.
There are 25-50ft centre consoles running
racks of four or five 350hp outboards,
but that doesn’t surprise in America. In
Sweden, Oxe is about to release a 300hp
belt-driven diesel outboard. However,
Chittum Yachts 56ft outboard-powered
convertible sportfisher project takes the
cake. A flybridge with four Seven Marine
outboards. OMG. It’s certainly a watch-
this-space market right now.
With a top speed of more than 100km/h, 1,050 horsepower and 1,400 litres of fuel, the
Wellcraft 35 Scarab Offshore Sport points to where the global outboard market is heading
these days – to faster, farther reaching and fishier boats.
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