I’m going through the convention center at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show, shooting Short Take videos on hot new boats from established companies like the Edgewater 280 CX, the Hydra-sports 4200 SF, and the Scout 320 LXF, when I first catch sight of the Belzona 325 Center Console. I stop in my tracks. I search my brain—Belzona, Belzona, Belzona, where have I heard that name before?
Certainly not because of the boat I’m gazing at; if I’d seen a center console with that curvaceous reverse-raked console, sliding gunwale dive door, and flared bow before, I would have remembered it. Nope, the reason Belzona sounds so familiar is that this company has been making polymer composites and materials used by some other boatbuilders for years. So, why start making their own boats? According to CEO Joel Svendsen, because they simply wanted to. These guys are boaters at heart, and they had a dream—which is exactly why most uber-cool fishboats exist.
My favorite feature on the 325, bar none, is its fishboxes in the foredeck. As you can see in the Short Take video we did of the Belzona, there’s enough room down there to stow a new world record catch of just about any species under the sun. Another nice feature is the dive door, which is essentially the entire aft gunwale. It’s mounted on air-assist tracks, so you can slide the whole thing back and forth. Open it up, and there’s over three feet of wide-open access to the water. It makes me question the oversized aft platform (its need as a swim platform is eliminated by the wide-open gunwale), which puts the twin outboards way aft and could make it tough to work a fish around the props, but some folks like the ability to walk between the powerplants and the transom.
More about that transom: it houses primary and secondary livewells, plus a rigging station with a sink. All stuff anglers will want, but all stuff that enlarges the transom and pushes you farther forward from the outboards. Truth be told, most Florida guys who are either live-baiting for sails or dropping for grouper don’t mind the distance since they land everything on the hip, and most Florida boats are designed this way. Northerners who might try chunking for tunas or chumming for mako are more inclined to locate stuff like this behind the leaning post, so they can fight fish farther aft. But making use of the transom also means Belzona had plenty of space in the leaning post to play with, and play they did—it houses a refrigerator, tackle stowage drawers, four rocket launchers, and a pair of cupholders.
The claim that Joel and the others at Belzona are dedicated boaters is proven by their attention to details that non-boaters simply wouldn’t think of. There’s a raw water washdown inside the anchor locker, for example, so you don’t get bottom muck all over the place when you pull the hook at the end of the day. Low-profile grab rails are located just about everywhere you reach. The adjustable helm bolsters are cushy and comfy, for those long runs to the fishing grounds. And—more evidence that this is a Floridian-bred boat—both the helm station and the console compartment are air-conditioned.
It’s pretty darn unusual for an all-new model like this to pop up out of nowhere, from an all-new builder. But in the case of the Belzona 325 center console, that’s exactly what has happened. And the next time you happen to be wandering the halls of a boat show waiting for something to grab your gaze and hold it, I hope the Belzona will be there for you. Smart money says it’ll stop you in your tracks.
Other Choices: The Scout 320 LXF is also a unique center console with an unusual design; the Jupiter 32 CC is another example of a Florida-designed center console with a slightly more traditional attitude.
For more information, visit Belzona.