It's an argument as old as fiberglass itself. Dad wants to go fast. Mom wants amenities and room for the whole family. Odds were that whatever boat that particular family ended up with disappointed one side or the other. Or both.
Either its performance was lackluster or it was cramped belowdeck. Turns out Velocity Powerboats has been hearing similar stories. The good news? The company has been listening.
New for 2004, the Velocity 290 SC Weekender splits the difference, although it seems to favor Dad's side of the argument, with engine options from MerCruiser's MX 6.2 MPI all the way up to a Mercury Racing HP575SCi, and custom power on request.
Velocity chose to bring us a boat the way most people would outfit it, with a MerCruiser 496 Mag HO and a Bravo One drive. It also came with Zeiger single-ram hydraulic steering and a Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 28" propeller modified by Hall's Propeller in Christmas, Fla.
Like all Velocity models, the 290 featured a pad-bottom design. In fact, it's the same hull mold as the APBA kilo-record-holding VR-1 introduced in 2002. The hull featured four full-length strakes and a neutral 2 1/2-inch radiused chine. The inside strakes terminated at the outer edges of the 5-inch-deep notch.
The combination was good for 70 mph at 5,000 rpm. The manufacturer estimated it would run 75 mph and we suspect there may have been more in it. On test day, conditions weren't the best. Lots of big, sloppy wakes coming from everywhere and a nasty wind chop knocked off at least a couple of mph as far as we could tell.
From a dead stop, the 290 SC hit 41 mph in 10 seconds and 59 mph in twice that time. Midrange numbers included a 6.9-second time from 30 to 50 mph and a 9.2-second time from 40 to 60 mph.
During slalom maneuvers, the boat was predictable and stable. Because it was slightly heavier and a bit taller than the VR-1, handling wasn't as crisp as the smaller and lighter model we tested in February 2002.
Offshore, the boat could have used trim tabs. They come standard on boats with HP500EFI or greater power, but even if you're only opting for the 496 Mag HO, it would be a good idea to get tabs, especially since Velocity installs the good ones at the factory: 280S K-Planes. Even without tabs, the boat felt solid in some nasty 4- and 6-foot swells and with just drive trim it was easy enough to get the boat to fly level.
Beneath the positive-molded engine hatch, which lifted on a single electric screw jack, Velocity rigged the 290 SC like a race boat.
Wiring and plumbing from the helm was tucked beneath the gunwales and wrapped in conduit. The cool part was that the stainless cushion clamps were through-bolted to the fasteners that retained the rubrail so there weren't any screws driven into the hullside. Pretty smart.
The engine was mounted on the standard Mercury mounts fastened to white powder-painted L-angles through-bolted to the outside stringers, which were capped with diamond-plate that extended to the chine. To starboard, the company mounted the freshwater tank. To port, the single battery was mounted in a powder-painted box, just aft of the trim pump.
On the outside, gelcoat had a traditional Velocity "V" painted on the side in purple with white airbrush accents and a yellow "ribbon" on the deck. Gelcoat exhibited decent shine over its mostly wave-free mold work and the rubrail was a stout plastic extrusion with a rubber insert.
Unlike the VR-1 or any Velocity we've tested in recent years, the 290 SC came with a white powder-painted windshield from Taylor Made. A wise choice, the windshield complemented the lines of the boat and knocked down the wind.
The cockpit featured Pirelli flooring beneath its lay-in carpeting. Vinyl used for the bolsters and seats was a tan pearlescent vinyl backed with substantial padding. Comfortable and kind of cool looking. There was room for up to four people in the back seat if you don't mind getting cozy, three if you do mind. More important, the gunwale was nice and high in the back seat, up to the shoulder of 6-plus footers.
There also was a grab rail that attached to the gunwale and the rear of the bolster. It served as a handhold for rear-seat passengers and a brace for the forward bolsters, which featured powder-painted aluminum construction and manual dropout bottoms.
To starboard, the helm was fitted with Livorsi gauges and chrome throttles. The speedometer and tachometer were the standard 3 3/8" diameter units and the peripheral gauges were Monster series. On the starboard gunwale, a row of lighted plastic rocker switches actuated all the accessories. For convenience, all the circuit breakers were rubber-booted and located beneath each switch.
In the cabin we found a full head on the starboard side. Amenities included a pump-out toilet, a sink with a spigot that doubled as a shower head and stowage. It also featured a mirrored door that had a latch and a couple of twist latches so the door stays closed in rough water.
To port there was a mini galley, which included a couple of stowage lockers, the housing for the stereo and DVD player and the Sharp Aquos flat-screen TV (think "Finding Nemo"). Facing lounges and a spacious V-berth rounded out the interior. The best part? There really was a decent amount of headroom in the cabin—enough so you could sit in the facing lounges without slumping. Those same lounges converted to a berth.
Nothing brings more relief than finding a boat that fits the needs of the whole family—especially after a long debate. With Velocity's 290 SC, that debate just got a little shorter.
Hull and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||22 degrees|
|Hull weight||4,650 pounds|
|Engine||MerCruiser 496 Mag HO|
|Lower-unit gear ratio||1.5:1|
|Propeller||Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 28" (modified)|
|Price as tested||$100,300|
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to MerCruiser 496 Mag HO engine ($15,200).
|Location||Fort Myers Fla.|
|Wind speed||4-6 mph|
|Sea conditions||2' to 4'|
|5 seconds||23 mph|
|10 seconds||41 mph|
|15 seconds||53 mph|
|20 seconds||59 mph|
|30-50 mph||6.9 seconds|
|40-60 mph||9.2 seconds|
Rpm vs. Mph
|Radar||70 mph at 5000 rpm|
|Nordskog Performance Products GPS||69.8 mph at 5000 rpm|
|Time to plane||5.3 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||19 mph|
|At 25 mph||2.8 mpg|
|At 35 mph||3.1 mpg|
|At 45 mph||2.7 mpg|
|At 55 mph||2.2 mpg|
|At 65 mph||2.2 mpg|
|At WOT||2.1 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||80 gallons|
For More Information
650 Hickman Circle
Sanford, FL 32771