New Boats Under 20 FeetBy Michael Vatalaro
Published: February/March 2013
More power, control, and boat in less space. Motors shed weight while boosting power, plus smart builders pack more features into 20 feet.
Beneteau First 20
Beneteau designed the fourth generation of this 20-foot, trailerable sailboat with a sleeker look, along with larger genoa, a square-top mainsail, and bow sprit for greater performance. The self-supporting mast has no forestay, clearing valuable deck space forward. Down below there is a V-berth forward, and a small galley, with plenty of storage spaces built in. With an outboard bracket on the transom, the First 20 is rated to handle up to 10 hp.
Volvo debuted a new powerplant at the fall shows, which was lauded with an Innovation Award for a number of smart features, but largely for its class-leading power-to-weight ratio. Based on GM's 6-liter truck engine, but built with aluminum exhaust components, oil pan, and cylinder heads, the new engine is more than 270 pounds lighter than similar 380-hp models, and boasts better fuel economy as well. Volvo says you can expect to see 15-20 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with an 8-liter block producing the same horsepower.
In addition, thanks to Variable-Valve Timing (VVT), the engine has plenty of torque at the low end, and is less weight sensitive at wide-open throttle, improving overall performance. The V8-380 comes standard with closed-loop cooling, and is available with electronic throttle and shift, which allows for joystick control in twin-engine setups.
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Here's the gear that should be aboard every boat 20 feet or smaller