John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.

MAY 2013
 
   
LOA  22' 4"
Beam  8' 4"
Draft 1' 2" (engine up)
Weight 2,350 lb
Fuel 72 gal
Max. Power 250 hp

Sportsman Boats is a new brand, but its two owners are veteran boatbuilders. Each developed successful companies and sold them around ten years ago. Since then Tommy Hancock (Sea Pro) and Dale Martin (Key West) have fished and hunted together while watching the industry and paying close attention to innovations within it. They launched the company last year with hull designs and manufacturing systems that take full advantage of those innovations.

A handsome example of their innovations is the Masters 227, an able center-console bay boat with a pretty sheer line that will serve both hardcore light tackle anglers and water-loving families. The layout is basic, but the details are impressive. At the stern, the casting deck's central lid opens up to form a comfortable double seat with backrest, flanked by livewells (painted blue to keep bait calm). The seat lifts for total access to plumbing and wiring, and has a pair of molded-in spaces for 5-gallon buckets. At the helm, a leaning post is standard, as is a third livewell in the console's forward seat. The bow deck includes lockable rod compartments on each side, plus central storage and a convenient step to the casting platform.

Though the Masters 227 is rated for up to 250 hp, Yamaha's strong and efficient F150 gives it gas-sipping cruising speeds of 20 to 30 mph, with a top end around 45. The 150’s relatively light weight will also balance the boat well. Anyone who plans to run regularly in rough water should invest in the optional trim tabs, to be able to fine-tune the running angle into head seas and with following seas. Base price with an F150 is $42,300. Sportsman Boats Manufacturing, Summerville, S.C. 843-376-2628; www.sportsmanboatsmfg.com.