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Boat Test: Pursuit S288…

At a time when boatbuilders launch increasingly larger models, Pursuit ­recently splashed one heck of a middleweight contender, the S288, with the aesthetics and all the tools to quickly become a favorite of discerning anglers.

A 30-footer, thanks to its twin integrated platform extensions astern, the new boat is the fourth model in Pursuit’s popular Sport series of luxury center-consoles, and while it offers the amenities, design elements and accents that appeal to boat owners who place a premium on refinement, it’s also built for the rigors of blue water with the purposeful features that anglers require for serious offshore endeavors.

Convenience begins with the dedicated anchor locker up front, equipped with a raw-water washdown and windlass to deploy and retrieve the anchor at the press of a button.

A pair of raised ­compartments with substantial dry storage inside and cushions on the respective hatches provide seating at the bow, with coaming bolsters serving as backrests. Remove the cushions and the compartments make suitable casting platforms, or flip the foldaway backrests to port and starboard and turn the seats into twin lounges.

A spacious, in-deck compartment ahead of the console stows bumpers or other large gear, and the console’s forward seat — with flip-down armrests — houses a cooler underneath. Two- thirds of the console’s split facade swings open to allow entry to a step-down head compartment complete with sink and freshwater faucet, Corian countertop, vanity, and vacuum-flush toilet with discharge pump.

Ample space between the console and gunwales enables crew to move about freely or follow a hooked fish. The integrated hardtop is a thing of beauty: a molded fiberglass top and full-height forward beams with grab rails, tempered glass windshield with wiper, powder-coated aluminum aft supports, tri-color LED overhead lighting, fore and aft spreader lights, integrated stereo speakers, acrylic hatch for ventilation or access to an optional second helm station, and dedicated mounting locations for outriggers, radar, radio antenna and spotlight.

The business side of the console boasts an aft-tilting helm with instrumentation visor, fixed footrest, integrated glove box with 12-volt outlet and dual USB chargers, topside compass, and an electronics-mounting surface that accommodates two 12-inch multifunction displays, Yamaha Command Link Plus display, waterproof stereo, Lenco trim-tab controls, 20 illuminated-rocker-switch panel and more.

Dual adjustable helm seats with fold-down bolsters and armrests double as a leaning post, with teak accents lending an elegant touch. The helm seating module incorporates drawers and dedicated tackle storage, 12-volt main distribution panel, two drink holders, and an aft-facing fold-down bench with the same dimensions as the one facing forward on the transom, next to a 24-gallon livewell.

Four flush-mounted rod holders on the gunwales and four more on the transom allow for a sizable trolling spread, and racks with reel pads cradle three extra rods under each covering board. Coaming pads on both sides of the cockpit let anglers shore up to bear down on surging fish, and to ice down the catch, the Pursuit includes two 45-gallon in-deck fish boxes with diaphragm pumps in the cockpit, where a portside door makes boarding and loading at the dock easier and also helps boat trophy fish without forcing the gaffer to clear the gunwale.

A transom door to starboard affords access to the integrated transom swim platform with retractable boarding ladder, and to keep the cockpit clean and the crew cool, the S288 comes with an aft raw-water washdown and a pullout ­freshwater shower.

Powered by a pair of ­Yamaha F300s, the Pursuit was anything but sluggish during our test run. It averaged zero to 30 mph in 7.9 seconds, with no noticeable bow rise, and topped 54.9 mph running wide open at 5,800 rpm.

More efficiency-minded anglers will relish the fact that, at 3,500 rpm, the 30-footer cruised at 29.9 mph while burning 17.9 gph, which translates into a range of approximately 400 miles on a full tank of gas, more than adequate for both island hopping and tournament fishing.

As for the ride, the sharp entry combined with the 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom negotiated the 2- to 3-foot swells outside of ­Florida’s Fort Pierce Inlet matter-of-factly, ­cutting comfortably through the wakes of large ­passing ­vessels, even at a fast clip (5,000 rpm), without ­pounding or demanding a death grip on the grab rails. The Pursuit also gets an A on maneuverability, because it was quick to respond to the slightest turn of the steering wheel and execute tight curves, instilling the ­confidence at the helm that comes from a safe, ­responsive ride.

Anyone in the market for a plush, midsize center-console equally capable of tackling big game or weekend retreats should give the Pursuit S288 serious consideration.

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