Tommy Hancock and Dale Martin know a thing or two about building center console fishing boats. Cofounders of Sea Pro and Key West Boats, respectively, the two collectively oversaw the design and construction of thousands of boats in their day. Having divested their interests in the companies they helped build, the pair opened up shop in Summerville, SC, in 2012 to form Sportsman, a builder of high-quality, performance-minded center console angling machines. The first hull hit the water in 2012. Over five years the dynamic boatbuilding duo have built up the Sportsman lineup to 18 models, including bay boats, coastal center consoles, and offshore angling machines like the new Sportsman 282 Open Tournament Edition, which debuted at the Miami International Boat Show. Naturally, we were on hand to run it.
As the Tournament Edition (TE) name would suggest, 282 TE has an open, uncluttered deck layout with lots of fishing features aimed toward putting meat on the deck. The open theme is no more evident than at the bow, which is completely devoid of the tables or lounge seating found on so many of today’s center console fishing boats. Instead there’s a wide expanse of deck space perfect for tangling with the big ones. The 282 TE’s nine-foot, three-inch beam and slender console means there’s lots of space between the console and the gunwales, eliminating a common choke point. The aft cockpit also is quite roomy and open. Sportsman’s opened up space back here by eliminating the huge rigging/tackle station you’ll find on the 282 Open and replacing it with a live well.
All that being said, the 282 TE is not completely devoid of seating and comfort features. There is a cushy upholstered flip-up bench seat at the transom and a large, forward-facing, two-person lounge built ahead of the center console. The lounge’s base raises up on gas-assist struts to reveal a fully insulated, coffin-style cooler/fish box. Two very comfortable helm seats with flip-up bolsters sit behind the helm. There’s a full surround of soft bolstering around the gunwales, with waterproof stitching. And that’s good news—we’ve seen plenty of boats with soggy, droopy, waterlogged gunwale bolsters. Sportsman also fitted a small upholstered bench up in the front end of the foredeck, but it’s very small and probably more useful as a place to kneel while dealing with ground tackle or tying off bow cleats than as a seat. Inside the center console is a very Bohemian head compartment. Remember, keeping it simple and small means Sportsman has more deck space.
Built on a solid, hand-laid fiberglass bottom with medium-density coring in the topsides and high-density composites in the transom, the Open 282 TE feels very well built indeed. The deck also is cored using composites—there’s not a splinter of wood in the 282 TE’s hull or deck. Fit and finish are top notch, though we did have trouble opening a few of the twist-and-turn ring pull latches installed on lockers and live well lids. Included is a 10-year hull warranty.
The Open 282 TE was drawn with generous freeboard and bow flare to keep things dry inside when running in rough weather, while the boat’s aggressive entry and 21-degree transom enhance its ride when things get dicey offshore. As luck would have it, challenging conditions brought on by a stiff southwesterly breeze turned Biscayne Bay into a washing machine the afternoon of our test run.
The persistent, steep, three-foot chop provided the perfect conditions for testing the boat and we were quite impressed with the Open 282 TE’s rough-water performance. It felt very solid underfoot, and the 282 TE’s bottom sliced through the snotty conditions authoritatively, with very little banging. Like most boats with a generous amount of freeboard, the 282 TE’s tendency is to lean into the wind, especially at higher speeds. Thankfully it only took minor adjustments of the Lectrotab trim tabs and engine trim to remedy it. A pair of 200 HP Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboards make it all happen with very little muss or fuss, rocketing our Open 282 up to around 49 MPH at wide-open throttle. Cruising to the canyons? Dial it back to around 26 MPH and enjoy a lean fuel burn of around 10 GPH. Do a little math and those figures boil down to a theoretical cruising range of 500 miles with the 195-gallon fuel tank.
Once you’ve arrived at your numbers there are a plenty of fishing features baked into the Open 282 TE to help you bring in the big ones. Live wells abound, with 30 gallons’ worth of live bait habitat in the transom and a 40-gallon tank behind the helm seating. We counted stowage for more than 20 rods around the decks—a combination of rocket launchers, deck-mount holders, and under-gunwale stowage racks. We also discovered plenty of spaces for keeping your catch fresh, with two large in-deck fish lockers abreast the center console and another large locker under the forward center console seating. A port-side diver’s door aids in bringing large catches aboard or safely releasing others while still in the water. Lastly, there’s an array of Simrad fish-finding goodies set in the dash. Our test model included a pair of 12-inch multifunction displays hooked up to 3D Structurescan and B175 Chirp transducers. A 4G radar array should be great for spotting working birds that are beyond the range of sight. One thing some folks might miss is the rigging station and tackle stowage the “regular” version of the Open 282 has, but the Open 282 TE is missing. That’s by design, in favor of expanding deck space in the aft cockpit. A live well is fitted behind the helm seating instead.
All things considered, we found the Open 282 TE to be a great platform for both coastal and offshore anglers alike, though its rugged hull and deep-vee bottom begs for you to stretch the 282 TE’s legs in the open ocean. And, with 30 years of boatbuilding experience behind it, we’re sure every Open 282 TE the company builds will be around for decades to come.
Other Choices: Other center consoles with a bent toward angling you might consider include the Boston Whaler 280 Outrage, the Everglades 295cc, or the Cobia 296.
For more information, visit Sportsman Boats.
See Sportsman Open 282 listings.
|Fuel capacity||195 gal.|
|Test conditions: 5-10 MPH winds, two POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Twin Yamaha F200 outboards, swinging four-bladed 14.25-inch diameter by 17-inch pitch stainless-steel props.|