As marine manufacturers prepare their displays and shine their boats for the Miami International Boat Show, the NMMA Innovation Award judging is taking place—and this contest has pitted a new model from an industry giant, the Sea Ray 370, against the just-premiered Pursuit SC365i.

Sea Ray 370

The Sea Ray 370 from above. No sign of the Verados, but they're churning, for sure.

Both of these mid-sized cruisers are powered by outboards, and these are no common boats. In both cases they look more or less like stern-drive versions, but hidden underneath fiberglass motor-boxes they house potent four-stroke powerplants.

The Sea Ray runs a pair of  Mercury 300 Verados under port and starboard sunpads, while the Pursuit hides a pair of monster 350-hp Yamaha V-8s under a single centered sunpad. In both cases this increases the room available for a mid-cabin, decreases sound levels and vibrations at cruise, provides the reliability of four-stroke outboard power, and offers excellent handling and maneuverability.

This illustration shows how the Yamaha 350 V-8s are hidden below the stern styling of the Pursuit SC365i.

Both of these boats have been entered in the Power Boats 25’ to 60’ category of the Innovation Awards, so the judges will have their work cut out for them. Not only are these two boats battling it out, there are eight other prime contenders: the Belzona 325, Scout 320 LXF, Boston Whaler 270 Vantage, Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless, Boston Whaler 350 Outrage, Chaparral 257 SSX, Cutwater C-30, and the Ranger R-31 are also in this category. All seem to be extremely strong entries, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess as to which model will walk away with the prize. But there’s no doubt that the Sea Ray and the Pursuit, which have both taken the same radical new tack in the world of mid-sized cruisers, are going to be compared head-to-head now and into the future.

Who will win the 2013 Innovations Award for the most inventive new 25’ to 60’ powerboat? Stay tuned—we’ll have an answer in the coming days.

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