You can't beat a dedicated wakeboard boat when it comes to pumping out monster crests and popping riders out of the hole. But even the fastest boarding machines barely scratch 50 mph, and that makes life rough and, OK, a little dull if speed on the water matters to you.
Enter the Hallett 260 AC, the bow rider V-bottom with sponsons introduced last year, which ran 103 mph at our annual 100-mph roundup (see "Bottom Lines," August 2003, Page 88). Swap the 1,000-plus-hp Paul Pfaff engine for a Mercury Racing HP525EFI engine, add a collapsible tower and a 360-degree swiveling observer's seat and you've got the 70-plus-mph Hallett 260 AC Limited—a boat that makes perfect sense for performance-minded buyers.
Viewed from one angle, the 260 AC Limited appears to be a tunnel boat. From another angle, it looks like a 22-degree V-bottom. The latter is correct, though the Art Carlson-designed hull does have stepped "outriggers" and six strakes.
A 1.5:1 Bravo One XR drive with a Bravo One 15 1/4" x 26" four-blade stainless propeller handled the 500 horsepower from the engine. Top speed, with the engine turning 5,300 rpm was 71.6 mph, making the 260 AC Limited one of the fastest runabouts we've ever tested.
Steady, though not jolting, in acceleration, the 26-footer came on plane in 4.3 seconds and reached 62 mph in 20 seconds. Steady also applied to the boat's performance in our 30-to-50-mph midrange drill, which it did in 6.1 seconds.
The tower, which sported speakers for the stereo system and lights, did nothing to affect the 260 AC Limited's fine handling and balance. In a long series of abrupt turns at increasing speeds, the boat carved and never felt sloppy. Its handling manners were particularly polished at higher speeds, something performance-loving drivers should appreciate.
Fact: The 260 AC Limited does not throw big wakes. Serious riders, meaning experts and professionals, wouldn't enjoy them. True to form, our expert rider gave the wakes an average grade. More appreciative of the relatively small and soft crests at higher speeds, our slalom skier gave them above average scores.
Fact: Most of us are not serious riders—we're recreational types who get charged when, on our best days, we clear the wake. We're out there to cool off and have fun. For us, the 260 AC Limited's non-threatening crests are just right. And there are several aftermarket ballast systems capable of jacking them up when the time comes.
A tournament-quality boat also would provide more positive pull out of the hole in deep-water starts for boarders and skiers, but for a stern-drive model, the 260 AC Limited was plenty strong. Of course, the tower made coming up easier on the boarder.
We've seen a few performance boats set up for boarding. Hallett deserves credit for outfitting the 260 AC Limited with the previously noted swiveling co-pilot's bolster, which makes it easy to observe boarders and skiers in action. Observing from a fixed forward bolster or bucket seat requires an act of contortion.
Hallett's typically impeccable build quality was apparent throughout the 260 AC Limited. The boat's gelcoat popped and its mold work was flawless. Like all the company's offerings, the bow rider was hand-laid with knitted multidirectional fiberglass and vinylester, cored with balsa and vacuum-bagged. Decolite panels were used for the sole and bulkheads.
All the boat's stainless-steel grab handles were elliptical. Hardware, including eight Accon Pull-Up cleats, was installed with backing plates.
An electric screw jack raised the engine/sun pad for access to the power plant, which was mounted with through-bolted, powder-painted L-angles. Peering inside the engine compartment, we could see that the hull and deck were fiberglass-tabbed together. For additional strength, Hallett through-bolted the rubrail. In similarly stout fashion, the builder used stainless-steel cushion clamps to support the boat's clean wiring.
Absent from the AC 260 Limited was Hallett's trademark teak flooring. A company representative said that the boat's unusual hull prevents the sole from being perfectly flat, and nothing less will do in teak applications. Instead, the builder opted for fixed Berber carpet. The boat also can be ordered with snap-in carpet, which might be the right call for a boat where wet feet, wet vests and, come winter on the Colorado River, wet suits will be the norm. Still, the Berber looked great and was nice on the toes.
Stowage space in the cockpit was outstanding, starting with the deep, carpeted recesses in the padded gunwales. We also found stowage space under the bench, on each side of the engine compartment, in the carpeted locker in the sole and under the bottom cushion for each bolster.
A locking glove box in the port-side dash ahead of the co-pilot's bolster, which locked in four positions, housed an Alpine CD stereo. A Polaris VHF radio and a grab rail also were mounted on the co-pilot's dash.
The helm station to starboard was outfitted with digital and analog SmartCraft gauges—a benefit of going with a Mercury Racing or MerCruiser engine with PCM 555 computer control—and a tilt steering wheel.
Hallett's take on a runabout is refreshing. Elite riders probably will opt for a V-drive tournament-quality boat. For the rest of us who appreciate decent wakes, a little speed and a lot of craftsmanship, the 260 AC Limited will be perfect.
Hull and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||20 degrees|
|Hull weight||4,400 pounds|
|Engine||Mercury Racing HP525EFI|
|Lower-unit gear ratio 1.5:1|
|Propeller||Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 26"|
|Price as tested||$109,90|
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to Mercury Racing HP525EFI engine ($17,100), 500-watt stereo system with 10 speakers ($5,000), 13th Floor wakeboard tower ($4,000), external steering ($3,100), SmartCraft System View with GPS speedo and gauges ($2,200), stainless-steel fender and guide post on trailer ($950), bimini top ($750), mega mufflers ($650), ship-to- shore radio ($625), boat cover ($500), cockpit cover ($500), halon system ($240), drive shower ($185), trim switch on transom ($105) and in-dash compass ($85).
|5 seconds||29 mph|
|10 seconds||46 mph|
|15 seconds||57 mph|
|20 seconds||62 mph|
|30-50 mph||6.1 seconds|
|40-60 mph||9.4 seconds|
Rpm vs. Mph
|Radar||71.6 mph at 5300 rpm|
|Nordskog Performance Products GPS||70.4 mph at 5300 rpm|
|Time to plane||4.3 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||21 mph|
|At 25 mph 2.8 mpg|
|At 35 mph 2.3 mpg|
|At 45 mph 2.1 mpg|
|At 55 mph 1.9 mpg|
|At 65 mph 1.8 mpg|
|At WOT 1.7 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||100 gallons|
For More Information
5820 Martin Road
Irwindale, CA 91706