Spend a minute or two belowdeck in the Advantage 28 Victory and it's easy to forget you're in the midcabin of a 28-footer. The cabin, thanks to a clever design that located the galley on the rear bulkhead rather than on either side, simply feels more spacious than it actually is. Open the hatch and the cockpit and open bow doors, and the cabin feels almost expansive.
That's exactly what the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., boatbuilder was shooting for when it redesigned the model. Sure, it has the looks and attitude of a West Coast custom hot rod. But in terms of amenities and creature comforts, it's a pure family cruiser. Its open bow is reassuringly deep, and the cockpit, with side-by-side manual dropout-bottom bolsters, is wide open.
Advantage offers the 28 Victory with up to an 800-hp engine. That might be fun, and from what we saw of the boat's performance it could handle the power, but for all-around family use the supplied 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag HO was a good call. The big-block engine was hooked up to a Bravo One X drive with a 1.5:1 gear ratio and a Bravo One 15 1/4" x 22" four-blade stainless-steel propeller.
With the engine turning 4,800 rpm, the 28 Victory, which ran on a hull with two steps and a modified V-pad, topped out at 60 mph. At that speed, the boat's tracking was rock solid, which indicated that it could, as noted, handle more power. For those who have the wallet and want a little more juice, but still want to keep things reasonably tame, upgrading to the 525-horsepower Mercury Racing HP525EFI might be a great call.
Perfectly propped for the power, the 28 Victory came on plane in 3.7 seconds—the kind of time to plane generally associated with torquey tow boats. In 20 seconds, the boat reached 54 mph, and it accelerated from 30 to 50 mph in 6.8 seconds.
Both of our test teams offered high praise for the 28-footer's handling manners. Side-to-side transitions in slalom turns from 30 to 50 mph were smooth, and the boat leaned inward as it carved. It was equally steady and true in sweeping turns at cruising and full speeds, and tracking was dead-on.
Mounted on stainless-steel rails, the windscreens in front of the driver and co-pilot did their jobs. Our only quibble had to do with the positioning of the Eddie Marine throttle in the podium ahead of the bolsters. When pushed all the way forward, the throttle made contact with the rocker switches for the accessories.
Advantage did its typical bang-up job with tooling and gelcoat graphics for the 28 Victory. The company's consistency in this area never ceases to amaze us. Behind the pretty exterior, which was protected by a plastic rubrail with a rubber insert, was a lamination schedule that featured 1208, 1708 and 4800 knitted fabrics, Coremat and vinylester resin.
Hardware was fairly standard fare for Advantage. It included the previously mentioned windscreens, stainless-steel grab handles and four Accon Pull-Up cleats. An Accon Pull-Up navigation light, as well as an anchor locker, was on the bow.
Under the power engine hatch, the big-block mill was installed on L-angles through-bolted to the stringers. Stainless-steel cushion clamps supported all of the carefully organized wiring and the bilge was finished with a gray spatter gelcoat.
Clever features reigned supreme on the 28 Victory, starting with the main locker in the port-side walk-through. The locker featured a molded well for four fenders, as well as a shelf for holding lines. To the right of the walk-through, the sun pad was still large enough for an adult to use.
The side-by-side bolsters and a deep four-person bench were supplied in the cockpit. Two cushions comprised the bench, and under the longer one was a carpeted stowage locker. Molded extensions from the gunwale, just ahead of the bench, created lockers that were accessible via hinged acrylic lids. In addition, there were upper and lower carpeted trays in the gunwales on each side of the bolster.
With the center-mounted bolster configuration, the builder was able to create a port-side cabin entryway. The starboard side of the dash was home to a glove box. Privately labeled instruments for the helm station were spread across the dash in front of the bolsters. The wheel was ahead of the starboard bolster, which translated to left-hand throttling for the driver. Rocker switches controlled the accessories.
For privacy from the cockpit, there was an acrylic cabin door. Cabin seating accommodations included a pair of equally long facing benches. In most midcabin layouts, the port lounge is shorter than the starboard lounge, as the port side is generally home to the galley/entertainment console. By locating that console on the rear bulkhead, and taking great pains to prevent the console from intruding too deeply into the cabin area, the builder was able to provide two long lounges.
But in no way did Advantage skimp on that console's amenities. They included a blender, a sink and a Sony MP3 player.
With the deck hatch and bow and cabin doors open, natural lighting and ventilation were excellent. Also worth noting, headroom was outstanding.
Far from a small piece of leftover real estate, the open bow was comfortable. Both its forward-facing lounges were contoured. Thanks to the anchor locker on the nose, neither of the stowage compartments under the lounge bottom cushions would have to pull anchor-stashing duty.
It's safe to say that the midcabin of the 28 Victory was among the best we've ever seen. Advantage found the perfect balance between space and features, and the entire redesign made a good model even better.
Manufacturer Contact Information
800-453-6841 (outside California)