According to Trophy project manager Tim Hanson, the Trophy line of affordable fishing boats started out as an offshoot of Bayliner, 'but we're moving in the direction of being independent from Bayliner,' he explained, leaning on the transom of the new Trophy 2503 Tournament Edition at the docks of the Sealine Marina on Biscayne Bay.
'For the last decade, we've had serious fishermen working on the design concepts with some serious fishing attributes,' he said. 'To show you how serious we are, we've developed this prototype concept boat model to see if there's any interest in a twenty-five-foot Trophy that can take five hundred horsepower offshore.' The boat certainly got a lot of interest at the Miami Boat Show, judging by how often it was gone from its slip out on demo runs.
It also got a lot of attention for its new twin 250-hp four-stroke engines, Mercury Marine's well-hyped Project X, unveiled at the show with the brand name Verado.
The Trophy 2503 Tournament Edition is built in Bayliner's plant in Cumberland, Maryland.
'The tournament version is a little different from the regular boat by putting extra roving to take the pounding in the keel and add rigidity to handle the extra horsepower,' Hanson explained in his initial walk-through. 'We've gusseted the transom with a stainless steel bracket that runs from the transom to the stringer, tapped and screwed it into an aluminum backing plate to keep the motors from creating pressure on the hull in big seas. That's mainly for added safety.'
The T-tops on the standard boat are through-bolted to aluminum backing plates glassed into the stringers. The T-top is a solid compression mold so you can mount antennas with through-bolts. There are wire chases built into the conduits inside the supports for any additional items you want to install later. 'The Ft. pro' package includes stainless toe rails tapped and screwed into aluminum backing plates. Cleats are done the same way,' he added.
The hatch to the head compartment is in front of the console, allowing easy entry, and there's six foot two inches of headroom inside. In the sole, another hatch reveals a compartment with access to the holding tank, 20-gallon water tank, macerator pumps and one of the two bilge pumps.
The bench seating wrapped inside the bow has a removable table that lowers to fill the bow, creating a raised casting platform. Under the bow seats are large fishboxes. They're above deck, so they drain overboard readily and serve as dry storage for fenders and life jackets. The hatches are two-piece cored construction secured by friction with a rubber socket. They're even finished inside with the word 'Trophy' molded in bas-relief, a distinctive touch and one that echoes Hanson's obvious pride in his work. The hatch for the anchor rode locker is built the same way. Another hatch gives you access to the water and waste tanks.
Behind the leaning post, there's a perforated plate to accommodate leaders, pliers and tools. Dry storage pie plates behind the seat cushion. All cushions are removable. Guest battery switches are placed conveniently behind a gasketed hatch on the starboard side of the leaning post. Underneath the seat there's bulk storage and underneath that, the battery storage. Shore power comes out the port side.
The cockpit features fold-down seats that face forward or backward in the cockpit depending on whether you're fishing or cruising. All fishboxes are high enough to be self-bailing. There are serious circulating bait wells with separate 3.3 gallon-per-minute pumps. With a separate raw water washdown with 4.5 gallons per minute you have good pressure.
Across the transom to starboard there's a self-bailing tub that accommodates a removable Igloo cooler for frozen bait. A removable cutting board is set so that all the fish guts go over the side with a handy washdown. The board stows on top of the cooler and under the hatch, secure but easily accessible. Lift the liner out and you have ready access to the pumps and other vitals.
The console has a niche by the footrest of the helm station to securely hold another removable Igloo cooler. Having the cooler there frees the space in the front of the console for the hatch to the head. The windshield has a welded frame with tempered glass panes. Dry storage mounted in the dash provides protection for cell phones and other sensitive pocketfuls of gear.
Then there were the new engines. After spending five-years and $100 million in development at their Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, facility, Mercury Marine launched Verado, their new line of 200-, 225-, 250- and 275-hp four-stroke outboards at the Miami show. According to the literature, the Verado offers acceleration, speed and durability remarkable for a four-stroke engine, yet it's so quiet they had to install sensors to keep people from trying to start it when it was already on. Even at high speeds, engine noise seems to be drowned out by the sound of the wind and the water. It's emission-compliant with a three-star California Air Resources Board rating.
Verado is the first production outboard to feature a supercharger, which helps generate remarkable torque and acceleration with a smaller-displacement block. This in-line six-cylinder engine has a displacement of 2.6 liters, compared to other 250-hp four-stroke outboards which have displacements of more than three liters.
Verado's valve train features four valves for each of its six cylinders with a double-overhead cam design. A computer-controlled, sequential, multiport fuel-injection system provides precise fuel delivery for maximum fuel efficiency, no-smoke operation and aggressive acceleration. The injector system also eliminates the need for a primer bulb, another marine industry first for Mercury.
The Verado comes completely integrated with steering and control systems including SmartCraft,Mercury's digital engine-management system that monitors all vital functions of the outboard. All Verado systems include Mercury's exclusive SmartCraft Digital Throttle and Shift, introduced into the OptiMax product line in model year 2002, which provides snappy throttle response and smooth, unrestricted shifting.
Matching the Verado with the Trophy makes sense, since both Mercury Marine and Trophy are divisions of Brunswick Corporation.
When we went out the wind was blowing 12 to 15 knots out of the south with occasional gusts up to 20. There were three of us onboard, along with about 70 gallons of fuel. The boat proved to be a very stable platform. We experienced very little roll in the wallows, even with two of us leaning over one side.
We found a comfortable cruising speed at 3200 rpm, showing 28.4 knots on the GPS. Wide open, we read 50.5 knots at 5500 rpm. The Digital Throttle & Shift was indeed very smooth, and I appreciated the ability to adjust the friction on the controls, through I found the power steering perhaps a little too sensitive.