It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.
The new generation of Sailfish center console boats is here, and the 236CC is the first recipient of the makeover. Although it’s the same length as the 240CC, which has been one of Sailfish’s biggest perennial sellers, the new-gen 236CC is, to quote the singer Beck, “Where it’s at.” With an 8-foot, 6-inch beam, it can be trailered easily without having to abide by wide-load regulations, such as with the 9-foot-wide 240CC.
Sailfish boats are built by people who like to fish, and their hands-on approach to the piscatorial ergonomic side of things is evident in their designs. But it’s clear the designers have families, because more than a token effort is made to accommodate folks who don’t have to wipe their hands on their pant leg before shaking yours. The new trend for center consoles is to incorporate bowrider seat backrests into the forward bench seats; we’ve seen a number of such designs, but Sailfish has one of the best. The 236CC features wide, angled backrests that pivot to lie against the side of the hull and form a coaming pad that makes a great feature to lean against while fighting a fish. The backrests are an option ($853), but they are a must-have.
Also up front is a woodgrain cockpit table with a gooseneck pedestal that mounts to the forward bulkhead, which does two things: It eliminates the need to plant a receiver on the deck where it can be stepped on, and it makes an in-floor storage locker possible. The table can be purchased separately for $553 or as part of the Entertainment Package ($2,564), which also includes a jammin’ Bluetooth Fusion four-speaker stereo, underwater lighting and a clever ski-tow pylon that telescopes up out of the transom.
Our test boat was powered by Yamaha’s F250 — in the middle of the horsepower options that also include 200 hp and 300 hp — which is smack-dab in the performance/cost sweet spot. A look at a performance bulletin with the smaller F200 made that engine a deal-breaker for me, given its pokey time to 30 mph of nearly 12 seconds and top speed of just 41.1 mph. Yes, our fuel and passenger load was lighter and we had a cooler test day than when they tested the F200, but the 236CC got on plane quickly with minimal bowrise, in just three seconds, when I hammered the throttle on the F250, and that was without even deploying the Lenco trim tabs ($1,157). Time to 30 mph was a brisk 6.1 seconds and top speed pegged out at 47.4 mph. Equipping it with the Yamaha F300 (the lighter six-cylinder version) pushes the MSRP from $79,893 to $83,016 and would probably provide a top speed of about 50 mph. Sailfish also offers Mercury Verado power in the same three engine sizes. According to in-house performance reports, with a 110-gallon fuel tank and a Yamaha F250, the 236CC has around 250 miles of range when motoring along at close to 30 mph at 4000 rpm (keeping 10 percent fuel in reserve).
If the number 236 wasn’t on the hull, most people would never guess this 23-foot, 6-inch boat is an inch less than 25 feet, thanks in part to its tremendous cockpit depth. At the bow, there’s 32 inches and at the transom, there’s 27 inches, so containment is excellent for when the little ones are aboard. That depth means most anglers will be able to lock in with their thighs pressed against the coaming pads. We tested it in choppy two-foot seas on large Lake Lanier, and the Variable Degree Stepped (VDS) hull sliced though the chop with ease thanks to its multi-deadrise (22/23/24 degrees) configuration. Would I take it to the Bahamas? Sure, after checking the weather forecast, but despite its sub-24-foot status, it’s a boat that will instill confidence when owners come in from a trip offshore and find the inlet in an angry mood. I liked its natural running angle that kept the bow high and didn’t dive alarmingly when I chopped the throttle — a real plus during an encounter an XXL wave that’s lurking in a pack of mediums.
Although the 236CC is better at entertaining and skiing than most center console boats, make no mistake, this boat’s first priority is fishing. It has the requisite features to be serious about its craft, such as a 25-gallon livewell with LED lighting situated at the transom. For the optimist, it has a pair of 120-quart fishboxes up front that drain overboard. For cleanups and rinse-downs, there is both a raw-water washdown and a freshwater shower with a 14-gallon tank. Some mid-sized center consoles seem cramped for space when someone is fighting a fish that takes him for a few laps around the boat, but Sailfish’s new T-top features integrated supports that are flush with the console, unlike previous designs that had aluminum tubes on the outside and bolted to the deck, which are chronic toe-stubbers. And at the transom, the bench seat folds up quickly, so one can go from lounging to fish fighting in about a second.
There are several leaning post choices available. Our test boat featured the LP9 variant ($2,141), which has a baitwell under the starboard half of the seat bottom. And built-in tackle storage keeps things neat. There is tool storage for on-the-fly use, and at the top of the center console is a hatch for items such as cell phones and wallets. The only swing and miss for me was the positioning of the accessory rocker switches, Yamaha Command Link display and optional Fusion stereo; they were at the top of the dash where I would prefer to place a 12-inch electronic display instead. If you are ordering one to be built, I am sure Sailfish can accommodate personal preferences.
The optional new-gen hardtop can be purchased as part of the Offshore Tournament Pack 1, for $9,714, which includes popup cleats and rod holders at the transom, in addition to the six rocket launcher holders on the hardtop. The option to add Grand Slam outriggers with 15-foot poles will cost $2,714. A thoughtful addition on the hardtop is the action camera mount, for chronicling all the adventures for social media. An optional bow shade ($1,451) casts a wide swath of darkness but uses twin anchor poles that could get in the way if a fish decides to take a lap. Get the windlass option ($4,400), which includes chain, rode and a polished stainless steel roller, bow plate and plow anchor that doubles as a classy hood ornament.
Many of the popular features can be bundled to save a few bucks, such as the Comfort Package ($2,736), which includes a portside stern jumpseat, bow cushions and coaming pads. The console features standup room, and several commode options are available. Go cheap with the $176 portable toilet, if you like carrying a bedpan, but our boat had the preferred electric marine head with a holding tank and pumpout ($1,593). Sailfish offers a choice of nine hull colors, including our boat’s Storm Gray, which added $1,708 to the bottom line.