Just like a jigsaw puzzle with a lot of sky pieces, fishing-boat design can be quite tricky. The length, width, weight, center of gravity, and other factors must combine with the running-surface strategy and power requirements to achieve everything an angler might want. Talk about your impossible dreams.
Enhanced beam can be one of those desires. Beamy, wide boats create stable platforms for anglers. But if not designed correctly, they can deliver a rude ride. To look at the benefits and requirements of beamy vessels, I identified several wider-than-the-competition models and asked those builders what elements they combined to create these very popular boats. (Boats are listed by LOA from shortest to longest.)
Southport 29 Tournament Edition
The Zen of life has been described as the balance of all things. And in boatbuilding, as in life, that equilibrium is the trick, says Skip Robinson, managing director for Southport Boats. “In the case of the 29 — and all of our boats — we want to deliver as much cockpit space as practical for fishermen to move around in, and as much beam as we can for a stable ride but without compromising performance,” he says. “Too wide, and the hull creates resistance or drag that will reduce speed and increase fuel burn.”
The most important considerations in designing a beamy boat include the shape of the bottom, where the water breaks, and the longitudinal center of gravity (LCG), Robinson says.
“The folks at C. Raymond Hunt [design firm] developed a unique, variable-degree, deep-V-bottom design and concomitant LCG that keeps the hull addressing the water at just the right sweet spot for the varying speeds. It’s their magic,” he says.
Southport wants its boats to run as flat as possible with negligible bow rise. “We borrow our performance from monohull race boats. At the same time, we deliver the beam and wide chine flats that ensure a stable ride.”
Add to that the Carolina flair of the bow, and these boats maintain a dry, level ride. “They also don’t bow-steer in a following sea where the sharply increasing buoyancy pops the bow up,” he says.
Southport 29 Tournament Edition Specifications
LOA: 28 ft. 6 in.
BEAM: 10 ft. 6 in.
TRANSOM DEADRISE: 22 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 5,800 lb.
MAX POWER: 600 hp
Cobia designs its boats as “utility-driven tools,” says Charlie Johnson, Cobia’s marketing director. More beam equals more room for anglers, gear, storage and features. In fact, he says, cramped space can even become dangerous in the fast-paced offshore fishing world.
“One of the biggest considerations is the balance between a boat with beam and one that is so beamy that ride quality is sacrificed,” he says. “You want enough room to offer ample space for the job at hand, but not so much that you have a ‘pounder.’”
Having an early, very fine entry and deep forefoot in the bow that begins cutting the waves quickly can be key. The boat also must be properly balanced so that when it lifts off a wave and comes down again, it keeps its running attitude.
“Many boats either fall on their tail first, causing the rest of the hull to slam down, or worse, land nose first, both drenching the occupants and putting them at risk for a sudden and dangerous broach,” he says.
When piloting a beamy boat like the Cobia 296CC, Johnson suggests adding a little throttle. Cobia boats generally run on top of the seas instead of through them, he adds. “Many people don’t realize that more throttle can make for a much more comfortable ride in certain conditions. In essence, you are lifting more of the boat out of the water and running on more of the V portion of the hull, which achieves the same effect as running a narrower hull.”
Cobia 296CC Specifications
LOA: 29 ft. 7 in.
BEAM: 10 ft.
TRANSOM DEADRISE: 21.5 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 5,915 lb.
MAX POWER: 600 hp
Stamas 326 Tarpon
Stamas says it adds a little more beam to its boats to enhance the size of the platform and make it more fishable for more anglers. “We also use the extra square footage of the platform and its weight-carrying ability to enhance the overall usability of the boat,” says Mark LaPrade, sales manager for Stamas Yacht. “We realize that having a foot of beam more than the typical 32-footer gives the owner an additional 30 square feet of platform, and that’s huge when you’re out there fishing all day.”
LaPrade attributes the boat’s ride to its variable-degree deadrise hull, which means the hull angle between the longitudinal strakes changes from gunwale to waterline, and of course, from bow to stern. The V of the hull becomes sharper or deeper where it cuts through the seas at the bow. The deadrise at the transom levels out (to 20 degrees) to allow for the broader beam and to offer stability at rest or on the troll.
“The slightly shallower deadrise aft also equates to a little shallower draft, which is appealing to many anglers who also fish inshore,” he says.
The angle of the chines also directs water downward, where wind is less likely to blow it back onto the boat, promoting a drier ride.
Stamas 326 Tarpon Specifications
LOA: 34 ft. 6 in.
BEAM: 11 ft. 2 in.
TRANSOM DEADRISE: 20 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 9,550 lb.
MAX POWER: 600 hp
Grady-White Canyon 376
Key benefits of a beamy boat like the Canyon 376 include interior space and stability, says Shelley Tubaugh, vice president of marketing for Grady-White. “A foot of beam adds much more usable space than a foot of length. There is never enough room for things like storage, fish boxes, livewells, generators, air conditioners and other creature comforts,” she says.
Extra beam also adds deck space — important when offshore anglers tie into a frenzied bite. Stability at rest or while trolling also benefits fishermen at the end of the day in the form of less fatigue, she says.
When designing a beamy boat, available power must also be considered. Wider boats are harder to push and are generally heavier. “So you’d better have enough power available to not only push the boat along at a reasonable speed, but there also needs to be enough power to climb the backside of a 10-footer with authority.”
Wider boats can ride rougher, but that can be overcome with the right hull design, and the added weight of the boat can help the ride. “You have to have a really good, sharp point of entry that begins to vary all along the hull surface, instead of stopping amidships,” she says. “That whole integration makes a big difference.”
As with the Southport boats, Grady’s running surfaces are designed by C. Raymond Hunt. “It’s all about finding that balance,” Tubaugh says. “We say: ‘Here’s the length we want. We want a SeaV2 hull, and we want this ride and these aspects to it.’ Then we see what we need to do beamwise, and look at how it fits into the marketplace.”
Go-fast-style offshore boats are built to become bullets. “For us, we say that we want to be able to withstand long offshore trips but also settle into a good ride or troll offshore.”
Grady-White Canyon 376 Specifications
LOA: 36 ft. 7 in.
BEAM: 13 ft. 2 in.
TRANSOM DEADRISE: 20 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 12,850 lb.
MAX POWER: 1,050 hp