VENTURA, Calif. —Top boat builders from across the country were honored at Powerboat magazine's Awards for Product Excellence ceremony April 1 in Sarasota, Fla. A total of 16 awards were given in the Offshore V-bottom, Offshore Catamaran, Sport Boat, Sport Catamaran, Sport Cruiser, Runabout and Tow Boat categories at the ??th annual event.
"This means so much to me and all the guys back at the factory," said Mike Fiore, owner of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats in Bristol, R.I., who walked away with the Offshore V-bottom of the Year award for his spectacular 42 Legacy. "What Powerboat does with its testing and awards program—it's just incredible. There's nothing like it."
Earning the Offshore Catamaran of the Year Award in one of the most competitive fleets ever was the MTI 39' Race/Pleasure. The Wentzville, Mo., builder's cat earned raves from Powerboat's Performance Trials test team for its build quality and high-speed stability.
The immaculate FX-28 from Dave's Custom Boats dominated the Sport Boat class in every category and took the Sport Boat of the Year award. In the Sport Catamaran of the Year class, the brilliant 27 Daytona was the winner.
Formula's opulent 370 Super Sport was named Sport Cruiser of the Year. The featured-filled 256SSi from Chaparral Boats took the Runabout of the Year Award. Malibu Boats continued its string of Tow Boat of the Year honors with yet another for the striking Wakesetter 23XTi.
Awards also were given in Performance and Workmanship categories. They were: Outstanding Offshore V-bottom Performance, Fountain 42' Lightning; Outstanding Sport Boat Performance, Howard 25 Bullet; Outstanding Sport Catamaran Performance, Cobra 260 Venom; Outstanding Runabout Performance, Ebbtide 2200 Mystique; Outstanding Offshore V-Bottom Workmanship, Cigarette 38 Top Gun; Outstanding Sport Boat Workmanship, Lavey Craft NuEra 2750; Outstanding Offshore Catamaran Workmanship, Douglas Skater 46'; Outstanding Sport Catamaran Workmanship, Commander 2800 Cat; and Outstanding Runabout Workmanship, Hallett 260 AC Limited.
Two additional awards were given during the ceremony. Powerboat publisher Jerry Nordskog gave the annual Publisher's Award to Reggie Fountain, founder of Fountain Powerboats in Washington, N.C. "For his 25-plus years of excellence in designing, building and racing some of the industry's best performance boats, as well as his overall contribution to the performance marine industry, Powerboat has chosen Reggie Fountain as the recipient of our 2004 Publisher's Award," Nordskog wrote in the June issue of Powerboat. Fountain also was the keynote speaker at the event.
Presented for the first time, the Viking Spirit Award went to Factory 1 racer Mark Kowalski for his gritty performance "in the face of insurmountable adversity," as Powerboat editor Brett Becker wrote in his June column, on the offshore racecourse. After nearly loosing his leg in a racing accident in 2001 and being told he'd be lucky to walk, much less race again, Kowalski won the APBA Offshore Factory 1 National and World Championships in 2003.
All the awards are included in the June issue of Powerboat.