6 new boat design trends
The all-around champion [runabout]
The runabout is a cottage-country favourite. “People want it for a bit of waterskiing, maybe some fishing, and just spending time on the water,” says Jim Parent, a long-time sales rep at Gordon Bay Marine on Lake Joseph in Muskoka.
“Nowadays, everyone wants to go faster,” says Mark Ellis, whose designs include the Limestone and Pilot lines. Pronounced deep-V hulls have become popular for their smooth and dry ride on big water, he says, but need more power than flatter hulls to get all that wetted surface up on a plane. Some designs transition from a deep-V at the bow to a broader, flatter stern. This provides a planing surface and a little more stability in the back. Manufacturers such as Grew, in Owen Sound, incorporate high-tech “air slots” and “steps” into their hulls—essentially tweaking hydro-dynamics to “make the boat plane quicker and corner flatter, and to allow it to slow down and stay on a plane longer,” explains Grew CEO David Cameron.
Outboards overtake sterndrives
The biggest trend in runabouts is toward more environmentally friendly outboard engines, rather than traditional inboard/outboards. “Consumers are slowly starting to realize that outboards cost half the money to operate,” says Cameron. “They burn half the fuel of a comparable I/O, draw half the water, and require very little to winterize.” What’s more, fuel-injection technology has made smaller four- and six-cylinder engines more powerful, rendering monstrous V8s practically obsolete.
A sweeter ride
Regardless of their utility status, runabouts have also become more luxurious, with plusher vinyl upholstery, flip-up seats, extended swim platforms, and walk-through transoms. Demand for luxury has made larger boats more common in some areas. “Twenty-two-footers are the norm in Muskoka these days,” Parent says. “A longer boat means more comfort and space for up to twelve passengers. We never used to see that.”