In With the Outboard

With outboard power, Checkmate Boats' Pulsare 2400 BRX proves that stern-drive propulsion isn't the only good choice for a compact sport boat.
view original article at Powerboat Magazine's site

There's no doubt stern-drive power dominates the performance-boat and runabout markets. To argue to the contrary would fly in the face of market share and, for that matter, reality. But the truth is that many compact single-engine runabouts and sport boats perform well with outboard power. Also true is that outboard power is, for the most part, more affordable than stern-drive power.

With Doug Smith of Baja Marine fame now holding the Checkmate ownership reigns, there's been a push at the Bucyrus, Ohio, company to substantially raise construction quality and components, without significantly upping prices. We haven't tested many—make that two—models built with Smith at the helm, but from the Pulsare 2400 BRX we ran in Fort Myers, Fla., we'd have to say the company is right on track.

Ringing in at more than $67,000, the Pulsare 2400 BRX was the least expensive model in this roundup. Equipping the boat with a 250-horsepower E-Tec outboard engine from Evinrude certainly helped contain costs. Had the builder stopped with just the base boat and the outboard, the sticker price would have been less than $62,000. Options including billet swim steps from Eddie Marine, bottom color, a stereo system and an equipment package upgrade were responsible for the increase in the as-tested figure.

According to Smith, approximately 60 percent of Pulsare 2400 BRX buyers order the boat with outboard power. After spending a little time in our test boat, we could see why.

First thing we noticed? The boat was quiet, and that's a tribute to Evinrude E-Tec technology. It's worth noting that most of today's outboards are far quieter than their predecessors, but even given that fact, the 250-hp outboard was remarkably quiet.

It also proved downright snappy and efficient. With the engine turning 5,900 rpm, the Pulsare 2400 BRX topped out at 67.1 mph. It zipped on plane in 3.1 seconds and less than 17 seconds later it reached 59 mph. With the engine turning an easy 4,500 rpm, the conventional V-bottom cruised at 51 mph. Best of all was the boat's consistent midrange pop, as it ran from 20 to 40 mph in 5 seconds and from 30 to 50 mph in 5.1 seconds.

Weighing all of 2,800 pounds, the Pulsare 2400 BRX could hardly be described as hefty or large, yet its ride quality in choppy water was exceptional for a 24-footer. Enhancing that quality was an absence of rattles, squeaks and groans, which you might reasonably expect in an entry-level offering. Test drivers Bob Teague and John Tomlinson both used the word "solid" to describe the boat's ride in rougher water.

"And it's fun to drive," Teague said. "It handles nicely and it's decently fast for the power."

That those words came from the most experienced test driver in the high-performance game is high praise indeed for the Pulsare 2400 BRX. But the overall quality of the boat, particularly relative to its price, could not be denied. Smith and his team at Checkmate might have bucked a trend by equipping the boat with outboard power, but it was, without question, a winning move. —MT


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