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May 05, 2011

Sea Vee 430 IPS

This boat successfully combines hard-core fishing with style and sybaritic luxury.

Sure, the 430 is a particularly nice boat. Looks good. Runs great. But the most amazing part of this package is the IPS pod propulsion and steering. The joystick elevates close-quarters ­maneuvering - especially under challenging conditions - from stressful to total fun!

The 430 sports a very wide beam that provides incredible stability running and drifting in a beam sea. It also helps the boat rise onto plane quickly and effortlessly, yet the 22-degree deadrise and sharp entry at the bow make this a superb head-sea boat as well.

The vessel's turning radius depends on your speed. The faster you go, the wider the arc. If you want to tighten your turn, simply back off on the throttles slightly, and the pods angle more acutely.

Sea Vee painted the drives with a product called PropSpeed and gained enough extra rpm (about 200) to bump the props up a size, making for more- efficient thrust. The Volvo QL trim tabs barely stick out on the transom as the blades slide vertically. And an auto-tab function acts almost like a stabilizer under way.

The IPS dynamic-positioning ­function allows you to pull up over your chosen bottom structure and set a virtual anchor. Just press the button, and the boat stays within about six feet of that spot and on the same heading as when you engaged the system.

We topped out at 38.7 mph, turning 3,630 rpm and burning - drumroll, please - a relatively scant 39.9 gph total. Cruising along at 24.8 mph (3,000 rpm), we used 28.6 gph. That equates to a range greater than 500 miles!

The 430 features three steps up to the bridge deck and another step up to the helm, so visibility is maintained in all directions even for height-­challenged helmsmen.

Any of the fish boxes can be refrigerated, and the port module comes with a padded seat and a fold-out ­footrest for relaxing while watching the trolling spread. The starboard module houses breakers for cockpit functions (fish boxes, lights, baitwell, etc.), lure drawers, removable tackle boxes, a rigging station with cutting board, sink and leader dispensers.

Again, the IPS drives with Sport Fish mode - a function that lets anglers spin the boat and back on a dime - make fishing dramatically more productive. Sea Vee president Ariel Pared says: "When we fish tournaments, I almost feel like we're cheating when we use Sport Fish mode. We've cut our sailfish release times by half. When you get on it, a human just can't reel fast enough to keep up!" This boat backs fast, straight as an arrow, and spins like a CD-ROM. You can also steer in reverse, as if in a car. Or you can move sideways or diagonally.

So don't let the good looks fool you. This boat is still a world-class fishing machine.