Top speed was a blistering 84.6 mph at 5,200 rpm, a full 2 mph more than the manufacturer's estimate. (Photos by Tom Newby)

Top speed was a blistering 84.6 mph at 5,200 rpm, a full 2 mph more than the manufacturer's estimate. (Photos by Tom Newby)



Giant confession: We're spoiled. We spend long days in twin-engine offshore performance boats with price tags greater than those of our homes. Now and then, we need a reality check. We have to remind ourselves that what we do is a treat—most people don't get paid to go boating—and the products we test are, by and large, phenomenal.

Sometimes the product does the reminding for us. That was the case with Fountain 29' Fever we tested off Captiva Island, Fla. The 29'-long, 8'4"-wide beauty put on the kind of performance show that reminded us that we're lucky. Very lucky.

Base price for the 29' Fever with a MerCruiser 502 Magnum MPI engine is $102,097. Knowing our fondness for hefty power, the Fountain folks equipped the boat with a Mercury Racing HP575SCi engine. The 550-hp motor and other options raised our test boat's price to $149,091.

Performance

Arranged in a horseshoe pattern around the steering wheel at the helm were Gaffrig gauges, including a 100-mph liquid-filled speedometer, front and center.

Arranged in a horseshoe pattern around the steering wheel at the helm were Gaffrig gauges, including a 100-mph liquid-filled speedometer, front and center.



If you've got the bucks and performance-boat driving experience, by all means go with the biggest power offered. The 29' Fever can handle it, thanks to a proven single-step 23-degree deep-V bottom. In addition to the step, the hull had a modified-V-pad keel, a notched transom and four strakes. The outer strakes ran full length. The inner set terminated just before the step.

The 29' Fever had a conventional Bravo One 1.5:1 drive with a heavy-duty transom assembly, rather than the Bravo XR that now comes standard with the supercharged, fuel-injected motor. The propeller was a stainless-steel Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 30" four-blade.

Top speed was a blistering 84.6 mph at 5,200 rpm, a full 2 mph more than the manufacturer's estimate. With the Mercury 280S K-planes down, the 5,500-pounder popped on plane in 5.9 seconds and reached 62 mph in 20 seconds.

Remarkably consistent in midrange acceleration tests, the 29' Fever shot from 30 to 50 mph in 6.6 seconds and from 40 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Running from 40 to 70 mph took 13.8 seconds, which in comparison to other like-powered, single-engine offshore boats we've tested, is downright quick.

Given all those numbers, it turned out to be a good thing the 29' Fever did its best handling work at higher speeds. The boat handled slalom turns well at 30 mph, but it performed them flawlessly at 40 and 50 mph. The same held true for decreasing-radius circles—good at cruising speed, great at top speed.

A pioneer in the stepped-bottom resurgence of the mid-1990s, Fountain clearly has mastered the not-so-simple art of creating hulls with multiple running surfaces. Not once during our agility tests did the 29' Fever do anything rude, such as slipping, catching or hopping. The boat leaned into turns, exited them without pitching hard to the outside and tracked flawlessly at all speeds.

Workmanship

Fountain has one of the best in-house bolster-building programs in the industry, as evidenced by the two cockpit bolsters with power drop-outs.

Fountain has one of the best in-house bolster-building programs in the industry, as evidenced by the two cockpit bolsters with power drop-outs.



There was nothing subtle about the 29' Fever's checkered-flag graphics. (That motif continued in the French-stitched upholstery on the sunpad.) There also was nothing wrong with the Imron paint application that created them over fine white gelcoat and excellent mold work. Providing tough exterior protection was a plastic rubrail with a rubber insert.

Like all performance boats from the Washington, N.C., manufacturer, the Fountain 29' Fever was handlaid with vinylester resin and quad-directional fiberglass. High-density polyvinyl chloride foam was used for sectional coring.

Connected to the transom with hidden hinges, the engine hatch raised and lowered on an electric screw jack. Thanks to tidy rigging, including wire looms supported in aluminum cushion clamps, there was plenty of space for the big-block motor and its accompanying systems (trim and drive pumps, hydraulic steering pump, etc.). The engine was stoutly installed on Fountain's tubular mounts and L-angles through-bolted to the stringers, the under sides of which had backing plates.

Interior

The installation of the suspended headliner and the cabin's marine-grade carpet was simply flawless.

The installation of the suspended headliner and the cabin's marine-grade carpet was simply flawless.



Fountain did a nifty job with the 29' Fever's cabin. Like that of the sunpad, all upholstery was French stitched. The installation of the suspended headliner and the cabin's marine-grade carpet was simply flawless. Just aft of the V-berth with a privacy curtain was a seating area. The port-side galley had a sink, a draining cooler and adequate stowage and Formica counter space.

Fountain has one of the best in-house bolster-building programs in the industry, as evidenced by the two cockpit bolsters with power drop-outs. In the port-side dash ahead of the co-pilot was the requisite stainless-steel grab handle, as well as a glove box with a gelcoat interior finish.

Arranged in a horseshoe pattern around the steering wheel at the helm were Gaffrig gauges, including a 100-mph liquid-filled speedometer, front and center. Like the Gaffrig throttle and shifter on the left side of the dash, that instrument group has become something of a Fountain trademark. Mechanical indicators were provided for the drive and tabs.

For bench passengers who need to stand when the water gets rough, there was a grab handle on the back of each bolster. The three- to four-person bench itself was deep. Under the bottom cushion, we found ample stowage space.

Overall

Fountain remains a leader in the performance-boat world, and the 29' Fever is one compelling reason why. With 80-plus-mph capability, polished handling manners and superior craftsmanship, this one drew our attention—in a big way.

Test Results

Hull and Propulsion Information
Deadrise at transom23 degrees
Centerline29'
Beam8'4"
Hull weight5,500 pounds
EngineMercury Racing HP575SCi
Cylinder typeV-8
Cubic-inch displacement/horsepower502/550
Lower-unit gear ratio1.5:1
PropellerMercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 30"

Pricing
Base retail$102,097
Price as$149,091

Standard Equipment

Handlaid composite hull and deck, electric bolsters, leather cabin seating with sofa and V-berth, cabin lighting, cockpit carpeting, form-fitted cockpit cover, electronic digital compass, lighted engine compartment with electric hatch lift, heavy-duty engine mounts, automatic fire extinguisher, fuel filter with water separator, galley with sink and pressurized water system, glove box, molded-in front deck hatch, Porta Potti, hour meter, built-in ice chest, nav lights, full Gaffrig instrumentation, hydraulic steering, Gaffrig controls with trim on throttle, trim tabs, smoked plexiglass windshield, black three-spoke steering wheel.

Options on Test Boat

Upgrade to HP575SCi engine ($35,641), E graphics package ($4,061), checkered-flag hatch ($2,561), silent exhaust ($2,028), colored bezels ($1,055), seat back embroidery ($684), white Formica and plexiglass ($533), depthfinder ($431)

Acceleration
5 seconds21 mph
10 seconds40 mph
15 seconds52 mph
20 seconds62 mph

Midrange Acceleration
30-50 mph6.6 seconds
40-60 mph7.5 seconds
40-70 mph13.8 seconds

Rpm vs. Mph
10007 mph
15008 mph
20009 mph
250026 mph
300037 mph
350049 mph
400061 mph
450071 mph
500082 mph

Top Speed
Speedometer88 mph at 5200 rpm
Radar84.6 mph at 5200 rpm
Nordskog Performance Products GPS81.5 mph at 5200 rpm

Planing
Time to plane5.9 seconds
Minimum planing speed16 mph

Fuel Economy
At 45 mph2 mpg
At 55 mph1.9 mpg
At 65 mph1.6 mpg
At WOT1.8 mpg
Fuel capacity140 gallons

Manufacturer

Fountain Powerboats
Dept. PB
P.O. Drawer 457
Washington, NC 27889
(252) 975-2000
www.fountainpowerboats.com.

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