Throttling up, the power of the outboard motors slid the hull forward smoothly. We motored along the Intracoastal Waterway at a smooth 35 mph clip. The light wind chop on the water’s surface could not be felt at all.
The only vibe coursing through our veins was one of complete chill. There’s just something about being aboard a beautiful new boat.
That’s how the newest launch created by Pursuit Boats makes a person feel. The Pursuit Sport 358, the first 35-footer offered by the company, rolled off the Fort Pierce builder’s assembly line in late August. It gives boaters all the amenities anyone could need in one sleek, lustrous package.
The company’s 15th model perfectly showcases where the boating industry is in late 2021 — in a very good place.
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Why will the S 358 be well-received?Bruce Thompson, CEO of Pursuit Boats, can hardly contain his pride. When it comes to the S 358, he knows his design and construction teams hit it out of the park.
“I think the customers are going to love the functionality and versatility of this boat. It lets people be able to do lots of different activities,” Thompson told TCPalm. “We usually try to provide a balance between the fishing element and cruising element. We’ve really seen people looking for that now as people get back out onto the water following the Covid pandemic. We wanted to involve families.”
In addition to a comfortable ride, the boat provides space and features which lend itself to a morning on the troll, an afternoon at the sand bar or a weekend getaway to the Bahamas or Keys. The S 358 has these amenities:
Cockpit entertainment center: Sink with removable cutting board and fold-down faucet, insulated cooler box, 120-volt grill, 120V GFI protected outlet, hinged fiberglass lids, 12V pull-out stainless steel refrigeratorMolded forward port and starboard bow seating with electrically actuated forward-facing backrest, 12V and USB charger, and insulated storage belowForward-facing console seating with adjustable backrestElectrically actuated bow table with synthetic teak inlay and Sunpad filler cushionAudio entertainment system: Custom-tuned JL Audio stereo system with Bluetooth® compatible unit, Premium 7.7-invh coaxial speakers, 10-inch subwoofer, DSP amplifiersEight drink holders, extra deepMidship coaming boxes port and starboardFreshwater washdownRaw water washdownCockpit shower, hot/cold valve with pull-out sprayer”Customers who have seen the boat and dealers who previewed it in August at our dealer meeting in Charleston liked it so much, they have already placed several orders for it,” Thompson said.
In addition to the comforts listed above, anglers will find these features very useful:
Twelve rodholdersRod storage, under-gunwaleTackle center with acrylic door, four removable Plano® boxes and tackle drawerLighted Oceana blue 32 gallon recirculating livewellTwo 27-gallon insulated fishboxesPre-rigged for downriggers and electric reelsChris Gratz, vice president of engineering, said Pursuit’s design team has been working on the S 358 for more than a year.
How is the boating industry doing in 2021?Earlier this year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported boat sales were up an eye-popping 34% over the previous year. According to Thompson and Gratz, that trend has yet to slow.
“Retail activity has been very good for us over the last year. The amount of people boating and wanting to get back into boating are driving retail demand in a way we’ve never really experienced before,” Thompson said.
However, the robust sales market for boating manufacturers and dealers has not been without its challenges. Dealers have expressed frustration over a inventory shortages, buyers have wished they could have more competitive pricing and manufacturers have had to be nimble and creative due to labor shortages and supply chain interruptions since the beginning stages of the pandemic.
At Pursuit, Thompson said it has been “business as usual,” but admits his teams have learned how to be productive and meet demand with flexible resources. One thing that helped — when parent company Malibu Boats, based in Loudon, Tenn., acquired Maverick Boat Group, a longtime Pursuit competitor and neighbor located just down the street in Fort Pierce.
“One of the great about being part of this new company is that there are four brands over there (at Maverick). What we’ve been seeing is its nice to have those resources if you need to lean on something. We’re working together every day to try to help each other out,” he said.
Delivery issues in parts for boats for all U.S. and Florida manufacturers have been common since shipment schedules with China were interrupted during the pandemic. Gratz said there were few delays in Pursuit production schedules, however, one event impacted his team which no one anticipated — the deep freeze in Texas last winter.
“The freeze affected all the chemical producing companies in Texas which is where we get our resin from. There was a severe resin shortage last February when the chemical refineries all went off line,” Gratz said.
Labor shortages have also plagued the boatbuilding industry, however, Gratz said Pursuit has remained competitive is fully staffed at the time.
“We are at an all time high of number of employees with about 620,” he said.
Fort Lauderdale Boat ShowThe public can see all 15 models currently built and offered by Pursuit Boats at the 62nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Oct. 27-31 this year. Thompson said the show rates among the best sales experience for Pursuit so this year his team decided to expand its presence there.
“Historically that’s been our largest corporate sponsored boat show. It sets the tone for us letting us know what the year is gong to look like for us going forward,” Thompson said. “It’s very important for our dealers to come down and see the entire product line and invite customers down to sea trial our boats.”
The Fort Lauderdale show features billions of dollars of floating inventory and an annual display of some of the world’s most imaginative megayachts. It draws clientele from around the world.
The show unofficially rings in “boat show season” in Florida. It is followed by shows in Fort Myers Nov. 11-14, Stuart Jan. 14-16, St. Petersburg Jan. 20-23, 2022, Miami Feb. 16-20 and Palm Beach March 24-27, 2022.
Pursuit S 358
Length: 34 feet, 8 inchesOverall: 37 feet, 4 inchesBeam: 11 feet, 4 inchesPower: Yamaha twin 425 outboardsDraft (motors down): 3 feet, 3 inchesFuel capacity: 343 gals.Diesel generator tank: 16 gals.Max. horsepower: 850 hpDry weight: 16,600 poundsWater capacity: 36 gals.Holding tank: 10 gals.Deadrise: 22 degreesOptimum performance data
4,000 rpms produces 31.8 mph, 30 gph fuel burn, 1.06 mpg and a range of 327 miles. Top speed is 51.5 mph.
For more information go to Pursuitboats.com
Ed Killer is TCPalm’s outdoors writer. Sign up for his and other weekly newsletters at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage. Friend Ed on Facebook at Ed Killer, follow him on Twitter @tcpalmekiller or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.