Summer's here, and the water's calling. All you need now is a boat. But which boat? With so many choices, it's hard to narrow it down to just one.
We may have just the answer for you. During our inspection and testing of 2002 models, we came across a real gem: the all-new Wellcraft 190 Excalibur Sport. It offers everything you need in a sportboat and nothing you don't. In fact, its simple concept — a smart, fun little boat — is what makes it stand out from a growing population of complicated new hybrids that are part runabout/part deckboat/part family cruiser.
As the smallest model in Wellcraft's Family Performance Series, the 190 Excalibur Sport offers first-time buyers the perfect opportunity to break into the boating lifestyle because it is extremely affordable, easily trailerable and, quite frankly, a blast to drive. With seating for up to eight of your closest friends and family members, this boat has all the ingredients for an unforgettable summer: speed, agility and plenty of space to store your gear.
We first laid eyes on this spry beauty when it made its debut at the Wellcraft 2002 dealer meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida last summer (along with five other new models, including the 47 Excalibur, the 2600 Martinique, the 2400 Martinique, the 260 Excalibur Sport and the 210 Excalibur Sport).
Wellcraft also announced that it is now ISO 9001-certified, which means that every detail of the company's manufacturing process has met or exceeded the rigorous requirements as set by the International Organization for Standardization. Wellcraft Marine is among the first marine manufacturers to receive this recognition.
The Core Difference
By far, the most significant feature of the 190 Excalibur Sport is its VEC (Virtual Engineered Composites) hull, which it shares with several new models from Wellcraft's sister companies, Glastron and Larson ?—all three of which are members of the Genmar Industries family.
VEC technology was unveiled last year at Genmar's new multimillion-dollar manufacturing facility in Little Falls, Minnesota. It is an entirely new way to manufacture fiberglass using a patented closed-mold system, which eliminates traditional wood stringers and floors — a fiberglass floor is molded right into the hull of the boat — offering the ultimate in structural integrity, uniformity and durability.
The VEC process is also cleaner and more environmentally friendly than the conventional hand-laid fiberglass method. Each hull built using VEC fiberglass lamination technology produces 90 percent less styrene emissions than traditional open-mold lamination.
Visually, the VEC hull has a nice interior finish, which is apparent inside the deep recesses of lockers and storage areas aboard the 190 Excalibur Sport. There was no rough fiberglass to be found anywhere.
The hull comes with a limited lifetime warranty, a portion of which is even transferable to the second owner.
More Frills, All Thrills
In addition to its innovative hull design and eye-catching graphics, the 190 Excalibur Sport has plenty of standard features that won't leave its owner wanting.
Wrap-around seating in the bow can accommodate two to three adults comfortably. Storage bins are concealed under the cushions. Moving aft, the curved, walk-through windshield — which has stainless steel support braces and glass side wings — offers protection from wind and spray.
The dash console houses a full set of instrumentation, including gauges for fuel, oil pressure, water temperature, trim and speed, as well as a tachometer and a voltmeter. Along with the instrumentation, you'll also find an AM/FM stereo with CD player in the dash. The adjustable bucket helm seat puts the driver in complete control, with the help of the tilt wheel with power steering and the side-mount throttle level with trim switch.
Deep storage in the sole hides skis and other oversized gear, while cockpit side panels provide a convenient place for incidentals. Strategically placed grab handles, courtesy lighting and skid-resistant surfaces add to passenger safety, while molded-in beverage holders help guard against spilled drinks.
The aft bench settee with a rotocast base has storage below and comes with a cushion that transforms it into a sunpad. At the stern is an integrated fiberglass swim platform with a boarding ladder and a stainless steel ski tow eye.
An alternate interior layout features port and starboard back-to-back fold-down lounge seating, and high-low aft jump seats. Wellcraft's Platinum Package includes stainless-steel handholds, a 25 quart carry-on cooler and snap-in carpet, as well as several other upgrades.
What It's All About
The 190 Excalibur Sport has a deeper V-hull shape than most runabouts. Engine options range from a 135 hp MercCruiser or Volvo Penta 3.0L gasoline stern drive, all the way up to a 225 hp single prop engine. Our test boat was outfitted with a 190 hp Volvo Penta 4.3L GL SX, which could easily push this small, light craft.
It took only 3 seconds for the boat to get up on plane, and we are happy to report excellent visibility from the helm throughout acceleration. The boat was extremely easy to steer and carved some very nice turns, even at maximum speed (49.3 mph).
We determined the optimum cruising speed to be 37.2 mph, which gave us 4.3 mpg and a range of 124.7 nautical miles. After subjecting the boat to an hour of countless doughnuts, airborne launches and hard-over turns, we were on our way back to the marina. We cranked up the Clarion stereo and watched the sun melt into the horizon off the Gulf of Mexico.
Back at the dock, we picked up some literature on the boat and learned that all Wellcraft owners are automatically enrolled in the company's FirstMate program. If you ever need a tow, service work, bait, even a place to sleep, just call Wellcraft's toll-free number anytime day or night, and a helpful coordinator — not an answering service or machine — will provide you with directions, estimates or whatever you need.
If this service is not enough to get you to buy the 190 Excalibur Sport, perhaps the sticker price of less than 20 grand will.
Wellcraft 190 Excalibur Sport Specifications
|Draft w/drive down||2'7"|
|Dry weight w/engine||2,700 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||29 gallons|
|Maximum power||225 horespower|
|Base price with 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0L (Alpha One drive)||$19,159|
|Price as tested with 190-hp Volvo Penta 4.3L GL SX engine||$21,559|
|Top speed||49.3 mph|
|Cruising speed||37.2 mph|
|Estimated miles per gallon at 37.2-mph cruising speed||4.3|
|Fuel cost for 100 miles||$32.33|
|Range at 37.2-mph cruising speed||124.7 miles|
(Fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.39 per gallon.)
Test Boat Engine Specifications
|Model||Volvo Penta 4.3L GL SX|
|Bore and stroke||4.00" x 3.48"|
|Maximum engine speed||4,600 rpm|
Swim platform w/boarding ladder, ski tow eye, stainless steel hardware/cleats/eyes, Sunbrella canvas top, courtesy/navigation/anchor lights, stereo system with CD player, engine alarms, automatic bilge pump and blower.
Anti-corrosive system, Bimini top, bow, mooring or cockpit cover, flip-up bucket seat, galvanized trailer w/brakes.
For More Information
Wellcraft Marine Corp.
1651 Whitfield Ave. .
Sarasota, FL 34243.
(800) 603-BOAT or (941) 753-7811.