The finer boats we test each year always, as the show business success axiom goes, leave us wanting more. They tease us with their looks, entice us with their performance. The time we spend with them is never enough.
The Nordic 35' Flame we evaluated in Long Beach, Calif., is one of those boats. At 34'11" long, 8'6" wide, the stepped-bottom model is the largest offering in the Nordic line. When our tests were complete, we didn't want to get out of the boat. Not even close.
Base price for the 35' Flame with twin MerCruiser 496 Magnum MPI engines is $136,230. The manufacturer delivered our test model with a pair of Mercury Racing HP500EFI motors, K-planes with mechanical indicators, and a number of other goodies that raised the sticker price to $198,185.
The 24-degree bottom of the 35' Flame had a modified V-pad and two steps. The first step was 8 feet from the transom, the second step 4 feet aft of the first. Of the hull's four strakes, only the outer set continued through all three running surfaces. The inner strakes terminated at the second step. Chines were wide and flat.
Bravo One XZ drives with cooling showers and 1.5:1 gear sets harnessed the power of the 470-hp motors. On the spindle of each drive was a lab-finished Bravo One 15 1/4" x 30" four-blade stainless-steel propeller.
The 35' Flame put its propulsion package and efficient stepped bottom to excellent use, hitting a top speed of 88 mph at 5,200 rpm. Equally impressive, the 7,450-pound boat shot on plane in 4 seconds and reached 81 mph in 20 seconds.
In midrange acceleration drills, the 35' Flame kept our lead test driver and co-pilot planted in their manual-dropout bolsters. The boat blasted from 30 to 50 mph in 4 seconds, from 40 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and from 40 to 70 mph in 7.2 seconds.
To our test team's delight, the efficiency of the 35' Flame's stepped bottom did nothing to compromise its handling. In slalom turns at 30, 40 and 50 mph, the boat felt every bit as stable, secure and nimble as a first-rate conventional V-bottom. Steering response was excellent, thanks to IMCO dual-ram hydraulic steering. The boat also earned perfect scores in circle turns at cruising and full speeds. Despite the tighter radius of each successive turn, the boat did not hop or slide.
The waters off Long Beach were mild—so mild, in fact, that they posed no challenge to the 35' Flame. It dominated the few 1- to 2-footers we could find for head-on, quartering and following angles of attack. We suspect that the K-planes would be useful in quartering seas, as they are in most cases.
Nordic's gelcoat work has earned near-legendary status, and rightfully so. No company does it better. The in-gelcoat graphics application of the 35' Flame, perfect lines and crisp color separations, continued that legacy. Anything less than error-free mold work, which the boat exhibited, would have been a crime.
Nordic did not supply lamination schedule details for the 35' Flame. However, our inspectors could see that the boat was handlaid. For the bulkheads and stringers, the manufacturer used XL-10 marine-grade plywood.
An electric screw jack raised the engine hatch/sunpad to give us a look at the fuel-injected big-block motors. Keeping the engines firmly in place were Mercury Racing mounts on L-angles through-bolted to the stringers, as well as the standard transom assemblies. The bilge of the boat was finished with gray gelcoat to facilitate cleanup.
For supporting the wires, cables and hoses in the engine compartment, the builder used a combination of stainless-steel, aluminum and nylon cushion clamps. Nothing was left dangling. Organization and routing were mostly neat and logical.
The V-berth in the cabin was long enough for our 6'4"-tall co-pilot to stretch out with his feet hanging into the open area between the two facing lounges. That means it will be plenty long for folks of average height. Tall or short, berth occupants likely will enjoy the berth's plush padding. All cabin occupants also should appreciate the two Bomar deck hatches, which let in fresh air and provided illumination, as did the interior lights behind valances.
On the starboard side of the cabin, there was a compartment with a portable head unit (that's an option, of course.) To port was the galley, which boasted a microwave oven and a refrigerator. Also to port was a TV/VCR and Clarion CD stereo system.
The power cabin door opened smoothly for access to the cockpit. Forward of each bolster was an angled footrest—always welcome in rough water. Molded steps in the co-pilot's dash to port provided access to the foredeck. A grab handle and cupholder were mounted on the gunwale.
To starboard, the helm station included a Dino tilt steering wheel, Gaffrig gauges in purple bezels including a liquid-filled, 100-mph Monster speedometer, and Gaffrig throttles and shifters. Mechanical trim indicators were supplied for the drives and tabs. In addition to drive-trim control on the inner throttle handle, there were rocker switches for the drives to the right of the steering wheel. Rocker switches also activated the various accessories. Other notable goodies at the helm were a remote control for the stereo system and a depthsounder.
Four passengers could sit on the rear bench without feeling cramped. The bottom of the bench flipped forward on dual-position hinge to reveal a stowage area and battery switches.
There's plenty of competition in the offshore 35-footer market. The Nordic 35' Flame can run with the best of them. Don't forget it. We certainly can't.
Hull and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||24 degrees|
|Engines||(2) Mercury Racing HP500EFI|
|Lower-unit gear ratio||1.5:1|
|Propellers Mercury Bravo One||15 1/4" x 30"|
|Hull weight||7,450 pounds|
|Price as tested||$198,185|
Four deep-cycle marine batteries, bilge blower, two bilge pumps, stainless eliptical bow rails, stainless props, electric engine hatch, billet ski-tow, stainless fuel solenoids, AM/FM CD stereo, dropout bolster seating, tilt steering, direct and indirect cabin lighting, 40-ounce marine carpeting, V-berth pad, built-in cupholders and ice chest, enclosed head, full cabin lounges, full balsa-core bottom, Gaffrig full instrumentation, remote transom trim switch.
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to twin Mercury Racing HP500EFI engines, ($45,805), full hydraulic steering ($5,740), K-Planes with mechanical indicators ($4,000), Gaffrig Monster gauges ($2,000), top-loading refrigerator ($1,215), shore power with charger ($1,025), TV/VCR ($685), sink ($420), microwave ($420), drive showers ($390), halon fire extinguishing system ($255).
|5 seconds||30 mph|
|10 seconds||55 mph|
|15 seconds||74 mph|
|20 seconds||81 mph|
|30-50 mph||4 seconds|
|40-60 mph||4.7 seconds|
|40-70 mph||7.2 seconds|
Rpm vs. Mph
|Speedometer||93 mph at 5200 rpm|
|Radar||88 mph at 5200 rpm|
|Nordskog Performance Products GPS||85.6 mph at 5200 rpm|
|Time to plane||4 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||19.5 mph|
|At 45 mph||1.8 mpg|
|At 55 mph||1.7 mpg|
|At 65 mph||1.4 mpg|
|At WOT||1 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||180 gallons|
770 N. Lake Havasu Ave.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403