Sea — America’s Western Boating Magazine

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Bayliner 2550

2950 Avanti Sunbridge

Posted: November 1, 1987 | Boat Type: Express Cruiser

Bayliner advances with a sleek new design

By: Virgil Gorans

It looks like Bayliner has come up with another thoroughbred to add to its stable: the 2950 Avanti Sunbridge.

The Italian dictionary defines Avanti as forward, in front of, or advanced, and thatâ s an apt description of this new 29-footer. The racy windshield, arrow shaped bow, oval portholes and swept back radar arch combine to give the boat a sleek look that conjures up dreams of high speed runs off Portofino or Cannes.

And Avantiâ s beauty isnâ t only skin deep: The boat offers good performance, too, with a new deep-V hull design.

Seaâ s test boat had twin 230 hp OMC outdrives, which are an option; the standard boat comes with a single 340 hp OMC outdrive.

The twin engines are one of three options offered by Bayliner, the other two being a 3.5 kw generator and an air conditioning unit. Otherwise, everything comes standard, which is consistent with Baylinerâ s policy of offering a completely equipped boat, ready to go.

Well, not quite. Individual dealers supply the ground tackle, as customer requirements vary from area to area. Another dealer-supplied add-on is freshwater cooling.

The Avanti does come equipped with VHF radio, digital depth sounder, AM/FM cassette stereo, complete instrumentation, swim platform and a host of other features.

Access to the boat is over the low aft cockpit coaming or onto the swim platform and through the cut-out in the transom.

In the cockpit stern area there is a fold-down bench seat over the engine hatch, and the hatch itself has an automatic catch to keep it open in any position â “ a boon for any boatman who has ever had his head or hands bonked by a falling hatch cover.

The twin engines area tight fit, but normal oil check and maintenance should be no problem. The twin batteries are to port, one isolated for starting the engines and the other for running the lights, refrigerator and so on.

A focal point lf the boat is the bridge, with a U-shaped passenger seat and matching table providing a comfortable conversation center while under way or just hanging on the hook. Sliding in and out from around the table is not the battle encountered in many dinette arrangements.

Light gray upholstery with blue trim reflects the heat to help keep the seats form getting too hot in the sun. A canvas bimini top with zip-in drop curtains and see-through windshield curtains also helps protect the bridge from the elements.

But the main feature of the bridge is the helm station. When I sat in the swivel seat I felt like I was strapping myself into an F-16, with the space age instrument panel curving in front of me. Dials are colored in a visual alarm system from green to yellow to red in a diminishing sweep to infinity. The dual single lever engine controls are to the right.

One problem I had with the layout is that it has no room to add individual shift and throttle controls for those who prefer the separate controls. Also, the test boat controls were a little stiff, and finding neutral wasnâ t always easy, but minor adjustments should take care of that.

The 10 foot, six inch beam on the new hull design makes for a roomy layout down below, enhanced in the main cabin by a see-through cut-out into the forward berth.

The only color offered in the interior is light gray, to be consistent with Baylinerâ s standardization. The U-shaped dinette is to starboard, with a lounge opposite for cozy conversations at dinner time.

The galley, to port, features a deep stainless steel sink and an alcohol/electric combination stove with two burners. Galley cabinets and storage spaces are adequate, but the refrigerator, located opposite under the dinette seat, is a little on the small side.

Located behind the dinette at the bottom of the companionway is the head, with room for vanity, sink and marine toilet â “ an improvement on the usual cubbyhole found on a lot of boats this size. A shower pan is built into the deck.

The aft stateroom is pleasant, nothing like the coffin-like berths often associated often associated with a sunbridge configuration. It was easy to visualize relaxing here on a rainy afternoon, sitting around the U-shaped lounge that converts into a double berth.

Bayliner 2950

An open inviting entry way provides unrestricted headroom well inside the compartment. Stowage for the board and cushion filler was well thought out, to make the conversion from lounge to berth a snap.

Then it came time to test the Avantiâ s performance. Jeff Tomson, the Bayliner product manager for this line, helped ease the boat our into Seattleâ s Lake Washington Ship Canal. Tracking at low speed with the twin engines was good, with little of the wander sometimes associated with I/O design.

As we headed onto Lake Washington, Tomson explained that the new patented hull design has a deeper V than the similar 28 foot hull that has been Baylinerâ s standard for several years. The 29 foot Avanti has 21 degree deadrise vs. a 16 degree deadrise on the older design.

We opened up the throttles as we passed the buoy that marked the end of the speed restriction, and the Avanti came smoothly up on plane. It remained smooth throughout the range of twists we put it through, and seemed to find a natural groove at anywhere between 2,700 rpm and 3,000 rpm.

Speed calibrated by Bayliner at 3,000 rpm is 26 mph, which also turns out too be the most economical cruise speed. I tried the entire range. The boat will hold on plane at around 2,500 rpm and will begin to fall off at any lower turns. This still produced a respectable 16 mph.

At wide open throttle, the boat just keeps going, with no skittish feel at speed. We held that top end down to around 4,000 rpm in consideration of the new engine and were getting 37 mph.

Bayliner reports that the boat peaks out at more than 40 mph. The single engine 340 hp model is obviously not going to keep up with this sizzling speed, but the range of 15 to 32 mph at planing speed isnâ t too shabby.

The new hull design was reflected in the Avantiâ s good handling characteristics. Hard turns didnâ t produce any spooky feeling; the tighter the turn, the more the boat leaned into it.

Visibility was good through the steeply raked windshield. By standing up at the helm, holding onto the destroyer type wheel, I got a sweeping view down the sloping foredeck to about 10 feet in front of the bow â “ almost as good as some flying bridge designs.

I hammered the boat through some sizable wakes and slammed it into a deep trough, where I finally managed to produce a slight spray on the bow. Otherwise the ride was completely dry.

Heading back to the slop, I turned the helm over to Tomson to check out the side rails and forward deck.

The handrails have a solid feel, but are a little low. The foredeck and sloping cabin top are skid proof for easy walking; the forward hatch is an alternative to foredeck access from the forward stateroom for those who are timid about working their way along the side rails. The side windshield frame could use a handhold, to help when moving back and forth from radar arch to handrail.

Overall, I was pleased with the built-in quality Bayliner has managed with its standardized approach. The Avanti, with its Italian flare and sun-country styling, should be another winner in the price performance game.

Bayliner 2950
Bayliner 2950

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