Fishing Tips PUSHING THE ENVELOPE Posted 5/1/2010 Competition Center Console Boats Drive Innovations in Design and Power Thousands of saltwater fishermen have taken up the challenge of competitive fishing. From redfish in the south to striped bass in the Mid Atlantic, you can focus your efforts on your favorite game fish, but no tournament trail has attracted as much participation as the SKA® Kingfish Tournament Trail. The Southern Kingfish Association® is the largest tournament sanctioning body in saltwater, with 20 years of experience promoting events from North Carolina to Texas. SKA® anglers have been a driving force in the development of center console boats and many of the advancements originally designed for competition have trickled down to become standard equipment on most center consoles. Not surprisingly, the latest generation of competition center console boats has become the standard for tournament anglers pursuing everything from striped bass to billfish. Twenty years ago the typical center console was a Spartan vessel with few amenities and a 25-footer with twin outboards was pretty much top-of-the-line. However, the demands of competitive anglers on the kingfish circuit ignited a revolution in design. They wanted bigger, tougher, faster, more seaworthy models capable of long runs to their fishing spots that could be 50, 75 or even 100 miles away. For them speed was as important as seaworthiness. They wanted live well systems that were larger and had more efficient pump systems. They wanted them to hold more and larger baitfish, and they didn't want just one; they wanted two. Competition requires more powerful and more reliable outboard engines capable of speeds never before associated with saltwater fishing boats. At the same time, those outboards needed the capability to slow troll for hours on end and still provide sufficient electrical power to feed a console full of sophisticated electronics and multiple live well pumps. The outboard industry responded, and boat builders, who saw an emerging market in these specialized vessels, started designing and building center consoles unlike any seen before. They bumped up the size, initially pushing the 30' mark and then going well beyond—to as large as 38 feet. And they weren't just longer, they were wider and capable of harnessing more outboard power than ever before. Twins gave way to triples and there were even a spate of four-engine boats on the trail. (Advancements in horsepower have reduced the need for four-engine applications on open-class boats.) Not all the emphasis has been on bigger boats. Several years ago the SKA® added a new competition class for smaller boats, stipulating that they be no longer than 23 feet at the water line; manufacturers jumped at the opportunity to equip these downsized competition center consoles with as many fishing and performance amenities as the open class boats. They cut the faster, stronger and better equipped mantra down to a size that more in line with the center consoles roots. Today the "Class of 23" is as popular as the open class and provides the opportunity for more anglers to get into competitive fishing without the expense of owning and running the bigger boats. The evolution in boat size and design would not have been possible without new generations of outboard engines, and Yamaha has been pushing the power envelope from the beginning. Partnering with some of the most highly regarded builders of high performance fishing boats, Yamaha designed, tested and produced four stroke engines for competition models from 23 to 38 feet and in every configuration imaginable. Their efforts culminated in the only production V8 outboard in the world, the Yamaha F350, which quickly gained favor on open-class boats in twin and triple configurations. It has been proving itself on the tournament circuit ever since. This year Yamaha introduced a new line of tournament-tested, light-weight, 4.2-liter displacement V6 four stroke engines that range from 225 to 300 horsepower. They are poised to set a new standard in competitive fishing in the years to come, offering not just power, but lighter weight and better fuel efficiency than the models they replace.