Do you remember the good ol’ days when we used to actually go to boat shows, you know before they were all online? Surely you can recall when we could walk mask-free – and not worry about arming ourselves with hand sanitizer – and physically step on board new models and look with our own eyes to spot the updates?
I used to mumble my displeasure under my breath when I was asked to take my shoes off before coming aboard at these shows, looking back now compared to virtual boat shows I didn’t realize how good I had it. And along those same lines, what I wouldn’t give for an overpriced convention center hot dog right now.
If it seems like enjoying traditional boat shows wasn’t that long ago it’s because it really wasn’t. Year 2020 was off to a great start with new boat models being released at the early shows and innovation was riding a new wave of excitement. Then of course the novel coronavirus hijacked our world along with our industry and brought the once promising boat show season to a grinding halt.
Clearly the safety and value of human lives is way more important than attending boat shows in person and in hindsight I feel fortunate to have been able to attend some of those early ones in January and February before the pandemic slowed us down.
I received an early tip that Boston Whaler would be releasing its new 280 Vantage at the Miami International Boat Show in February. Knowing this family-friendly boat would be a great fit for the Great Lakes region, I could hardly wait to see it in person at the annual Florida show. Turns out I didn’t have to wait nearly as long as I thought as I stumbled upon it at the January New York Boat Show, which was three weeks prior to the big Miami release.
Standing on boat number two at the New York show, Spencer Traynom, the program director at Boston Whaler took the time to point out some of his favorite key features of the new 280 Vantage and could hardly contain his excitement.
“This is brand-new from the keel up and the redesign was done by our in-house naval architects in Florida where the boats are built,” explained Traynom. “The platform is 11 inches longer than the previous and very successful 270 Vantage and we’ve added 6 inches to the beam.”
Building On The 270
Direct comparisons to the 270 Vantage that was released nearly ten years earlier was a common theme when talking about the all-new 280 Vantage from Boston Whaler.
“We did our normal Whaler thing and we got with our customers,” said Jeff Vaughn, the VP of sales, marketing and customer service at Boston Whaler when explaining where the inspiration came from for the new model. “We had our design people meet with customers and we came away with some upgrades and enhancements for this boat including the hull design and ride. There is a much bigger flare in the bow and this is a much more sea worthy boat than the 270 Vantage even though the 270 Vantage is an extremely sea worthy boat.”
Ideal for boaters who want the flexibility of a multi-capable open-bow model, the 280 Vantage comes equipped for a wide range of boating activities, from entertaining to fishing to watersports and beyond. Amenities for safely social distancing you’re your family and close friends include a stowable cockpit grill station; an electrically actuated cockpit SureShade; spacious lounge seating in the bow; and Whaler’s uniquely convertible helm companion zone seating.
“The seating arrangement in this boat is the same seating arrangement that we brought to the market place six years ago with a handful of advancements,” added Vaughn. “We call it a seat that deserves a standing ovation.”
The multi-position lounge seat directly across from the helm provides a variety of different ways to use this seating area, which is what Boston Whaler is all about.
“We like to always convert our spaces so we’re not dedicating real estate to a single purpose,” adds Traynom.
“Dual console boats are really the best all-around boats in my opinion,” added Vaughn. “So when Boston Whaler was designing this new model they kept trying to answer the question of how could they make the boat better than what they had done in the past.” Although already geared towards family fun, the new features make the 280 Vantage a capable fishing boat, as well, including integrated stainless steel rod holders, a transom 19-gallon livewell, and two large cockpit fishboxes that double as extra storage for keeping beverages on ice. The addition of the in-floor insulated fiberglass fish boxes was something 270 Vantage owners were hoping to find on this new 280 Vantage.
Also upgraded is a standard portside dive door that aids in boarding the boat from the dock or from the water.
And true to its Whaler namesake, the Vantage also features a precision-engineered hull that delivers remarkable stability and a soft, safe and dry ride. This attention to ride quality will is reflected in the full lineup of Boston Whaler models
“The incorporation of technology with Whaler is extremely important to us,” said Nick Stickler, the president of Boston Whaler. “From the Mercury controls to obviously the motors to the great Raymarine electronics systems. Everything we’re doing is about making boating easier and making the boating experience more enjoyable.”
Cutting-edge technology is a big part of Boston Whaler. Features and options worth noting on the 280 Vantage include a variety of Raymarine products such as its 12-inch Axiom Pro, Raydome and Autopilot. A Fusion stereo with JL Audio M3 speakers is also a highlight on this model, as well as dual Mercury Verado outboards ranging from 250hp to 400hp.
“Our driving purpose has always been to innovate in ways that improve our customers’ experiences, start to finish,” said Vaughn. “The new 280 Vantage is a prime example of this focus. Incorporating extensive consumer research, the 280 builds on the best attributes of the award-winning Vantage series to deliver tremendous capability and comfort, along with low-maintenance, headache-free operation.”
While the 280 Vantage didn’t earn an NMMA Innovation Award this year like the 230 and 320 Vantage models had earlier, Stickler was quick to mention the company’s proud accomplishments by reminding those in attendance during the Miami press conference that there were six NMMA Innovation Award winners in one booth and they have no intention of slowing down. The six past winning models include the 160 Super Sport, 230 Outrage, 230 Vantage, 320 Vantage, 345 Conquest and 350 Realm. Stickler went on to quote Brunswick President Dave Folkes who said, “It’s not our intention to participate in the marine industry it is our intention to define it.” Boston Whaler is owned by Brunswick Corporation, the leading marine manufacturer in the world.
“Our dedication to providing customers with a seamless boating experience remains our priority,” added Stickler. “We’re proud to offer a lineup that empowers every boater to enjoy their time on the water to the fullest.”
The 280 Vantage reflects this and more, proving it is possible to improve on an already great model.
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