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October 26, 2001

Century 3100

The Century 3100 rides just a hair less stable than a catamaran.

I first saw the 3100 sitting at the dock after dark. Indirect lighting softly glowing from under the gunwales made it look very warm and inviting. The next morning, however, I saw an entirely different boat, one with a very broad beam and no-nonsense fishing layout. Who says you can't have beauty and function at once?

I was able to eke out only 5,300 rpm from the twin 250-hp Yamaha outboards. But even without the additional 200 rpm the engines are rated for, the 3100 topped out at just over 47 mph with four of us aboard and almost-full fuel and water tanks. You won't want to spend much time at that speed, however, since it gulped a hefty 55 gph (less than a mile per gallon). Cruising at 34 mph at 4,000 rpm proved the most economical speed, using 25 gph for an economy of 1.36 mpg.

For such a large boat, the 3100 got up on plane remarkably quickly with relatively little bow rise. A southwesterly wind blowing 25 knots roiled up the seas on the Gulf of Mexico to about a 4-foot, close-together mess. The 3100 rode surprisingly smoothly in the steep sea despite the wide beam which often pounds more than a narrower beam. That's one reason offshore performance boats look like darts. However, our course to the offshore wreck we wanted to fish was at just the wrong angle to the wind, causing the spray to be lifted up and back at us after it had blown nicely out to the sides. Every other heading seemed dryer than the one we were obliged to follow.

Turning at speed neither awed nor disappointed, with a modest lean into the turn and a reasonable turning radius. Maneuvering around the dock offered better performance than many boats of comparable size, thanks to the beam allowing the engines to be spaced a bit farther apart. This gives superior turning leverage when turning and backing with gears rather than the steering wheel.