Its boat show season and one of the most common questions we get from consumers is what type of engine is best for their boat. These questions are mainly in regard to outboards versus sterndrives or inboards. Not sure why – although I can take a guess and say it is due to the large variety of outboard options out there. Choices include two stroke or four stroke, various shaft lengths and gearcase styles available from numerous brand manufacturers. Various price promotions, extended warranties and insurance add to the complexity.
It all boils down to application. What is your boating style? Tournament bass fishing, recreational bass, flats, bay boat fishing, go fast sport boating, poker running, tournament offshore angling, cruising, etc. Another question; what size boat are you looking at and who will be along for the ride?
The good news is Mercury Marine offers a full range of outboard power options to fit virtually any application. For smaller, single engine bass, flats, bay and sport boat applications, its hard to beat the power-to-weight performance of the low emissions 2-stroke OptiMax outboard. Similar to the automotive world, there are various models to choose from within the OptiMax family. If all you need is reliable, dependable power to take the family fishing or tubing, then a stock OptiMax will serve you well. If, on the other hand, you are into tournament fishing or aspire to have the fastest boat on the water – then the Pro XS or Sport XS may be your power of choice. If having the most powerful low-emissions 2-stroke available is your goal – then the logical choice is the OptiMax 300XS. For those discerning boaters looking for performance with luxery car like drivability, a Verado or Pro FourStroke is the obvious choice.
For simplicity, I’ll focus on the niche high performance 2-stroke outboard market and the various outboard models available from Mercury Racing and our parent company, Mercury Marine.
Once you decide on your power need, the actual model you go with depends on hull type and weight. Let’s say you are shopping for a bass boat. And let’s say you settle on 225 hp as your power option. For the majority of applications, a stock OptiMax 225 would fit the bill. For those discerning anglers looking for a performance edge, the 225 Pro XS may be your best choice.
The Pro XS is available with a Verado gearcase or a high performance Torque Master gearcase. The choice here depends upon the weight and speed capability of the boat.
The 225 Pro XS with the Torque Master gearcase is designed for boats with heavier loads capable of speeds up to 85 mph.
If you have a lightweight hull that has natural bow lift, the OptiMax 225 Sport XS would be the best option. The Sport XS features a Sport Master gearcase designed for boats capable of speeds in excess of 85 mph.
Watch for my follow-up blog, Application Dependant – Part 2, where I will review high performance outboard power options for larger single and multiple engine boats.