Centurion Elite Bowrider: Performance Test

Centurion Elite Bowrider: The "Ski" is gone from Ski Centurion, but the Centurion Elite Bowrider delivers all the quality and value buyers have come to expect from the company's products.

18th December 2001.
By Staff

The Elite Bowrider delivers first-rate towing ability. (All photos by Tom Newby)

The Elite Bowrider delivers first-rate towing ability. (All photos by Tom Newby)

Just about everything in life is a compromise. You want a luxury car and a sports car. You end up with a Lexus 400SC. You want to play golf every day and keep your job. You end up playing on weekends. You want a water-ski boat and a wakeboard boat. You end up with the Centurion Elite Bowrider.

If you’re lucky. The 23′-long, 8’4″-wide inboard bow rider delivers much of the best of both worlds.

Base price for the Centurion (the company has dropped “Ski” from its name) Elite Bowrider with a MerCruiser 5.7-liter MPI engine is $26,995. Our test model had an upgrade to a MerCruiser 350 Magnum MPI engine, a “silver” options package (pull-out cleats, four-speaker stereo system and bow cover) and the Air Warrior package (ballast system, tower and graphics). As the boat sat at the docks in Captiva Island, Fla., it cost $31,462. For two boats in one, it’s a steal.


Based on the rooster tail he saw behind the Centurion Elite Bowrider as our test team headed out on the water, our ski tester expected the wakes behind the boat to be less than ideal for serious slalom runs. While the boat did create minor turbulence, the wakes were flat, smooth and in his words “almost nonexistent,” regardless of rope length and speed.

The inboard bow rider yanked him out of the hole with zero trouble. Our skier, on the other hand, had big trouble trying to get the boat to budge off course in hard slalom cuts.

Even with the ballast system empty, the Elite Bowrider delivered solid wakes with smooth slopes and no lip —the kind of wakes on which intermediate-level riders can build confidence. Filling the system boosted the wake size, yet did not produce kicker lips that expert riders need for maximum air. But remember, the Elite Bowrider is a compromise, and only the finest riders would know the difference.

No compromises were required of our ski and wakeboard test drivers — both found the Elite Bowrider delightful. There was no need to hammer the throttle to pull a skier out of deep water; three-quarter throttle was all it took. Although our test driver could feel the boat rock softly when the skier cut hard, it wasn’t distracting. The boat responded so well to steering inputs that our normally understated driver described it as “unbelievable.”

Our wakeboard driver also gave the boat top marks for take-off power and agility. In terms of tracking, he experienced none of the slight roll our ski driver reported. At pickup time, he appreciated the bow rider’s ability to turn without kicking up spray.


Starting with its ability to handle slop, the Elite Bowrider impressed our lead test driver. Conditions on the Intracoastal Waterway during test were wind-blown 1- to 2-foot chop that, in the average tournament inboard boat, would deliver spine jolts and kidney punches to drivers and passengers. But the 2,800-pound boat delivered a painless ride. It rode on a semi-V bottom with spray rails integrated with the chines and four strakes. The inner strakes ended roughly 10 feet from the transom, while the outer pair ran the length of the hull.

That bottom, complete with three skegs, produced crisp handling in slalom and circle turns at cruising and full speeds. During these sometimes-abrupt maneuvers, as well as accelerating and decelerating in a straight line, our driver discovered another nifty aspect of the Elite Bowrider?minimal steering wheel torque for an inboard.

To make use of the 315-hp engine, Centurion paired it with a direct drive (1:1) with an OJ 13″ x 13″ bronze four-blade propeller at the end of the shaft. Top speed was 44.3 mph at 4600 rpm, and 10 seconds was all it took to get there. Time to plane was a dazzling 2.3 seconds, and it shot from 20 to 40 mph in 5.9 seconds.


Centurion built the Elite Bowrider with its ICS/Plexus system. The system employs Plexus, a powerful adhesive, to bond an inner structure (stringer system) to the hull. The deck and sole (one piece) are then Plexus-bonded to the hull and inner structuring, forming what a Centurion representative called a “unibody laminate.” Lamination materials included 22 mils of gelcoat with ceramic backing, 3-ounce mat, 7-ounce cloth, DB170 tridirectional fiberglass and 24-ounce woven roving.

The open bow of the Elite Bowrider can accommodate two reclined passengers.

The open bow of the Elite Bowrider can accommodate two reclined passengers.

The Elite Bowrider featured extensive hardware. Two cat-eye-style nav lights graced the bow. One pull-out cleat was on each side of the sturdy walk-through windshield. Two more were positioned on the gunwales aft. Hardware, except the aluminum ProFlight tower, was stainless-steel. Above the teak swim platform were a grab handle and a tow-eye.

Hinged at the back, the motor box could be removed by pulling a couple of pins. Centurion used a four-point mounting system to secure the engine over the smooth gelcoat bilge created by the inner liner. Hoses and wires were run in a tidy loom.


The nose of the boat was tall and large enough to contain an adequately sized anchor locker.

Another nice feature? Snap in carpet on the sole. Most tournament boats have carpet that’s glued in place. Snap-in carpet enables owners to clean the sole and thoroughly clean and dry the carpet.

The Elite Bowrider features a classic tournament-boat-style cockpit layout.

The Elite Bowrider features a classic tournament-boat-style cockpit layout.

In the cockpit, the boat layout was fairly traditional for the breed, meaning it had a two-person rear facing observer’s seat and a rear bench. The observer’s seat flipped up for access to a locker. For stowing smaller items, there was a glove box in the co-pilot’s dash and cargo nets in the coaming panels and on the rear of the engine box.

All instruments are in clear view at the Elite Bowrider's helm station.

All instruments are in clear view at the Elite Bowrider’s helm station.

At the helm above the tilt-steering were the de rigeur dual speedometers and single tachometer. A single gauge housed readouts for fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature and volts. All accessory switches, including controls for the ballast system, were within easy reach and the throttle/shifter was mounted on the gunwale.


Who says you can’t please everyone? Certainly not the members of our test team, all of who praised the versatile, well-built and affordably priced Centurion Elite Bowrider. All it takes is a little compromise.

Hull and Propulsion Information

Deadrise at transom NA
Centerline 23′
Beam 8’4″
Hull weight 2,800 pounds
Engine MerCruiser 5.7 MPI
Cylinder type V-8
Cubic-inch displacement/horsepower 350/315
Lower-unit gear ratio 1:1
Propeller OJ 13″ x 13″


Base retail $26,995
Price as tested $31,462

Standard Equipment

Limited lifetime hull warranty, auto bilge pump, bilge blower, Permalock motor mounts, tilt rack and pinion steering, dual electronic Faria speedometers, Teleflex controls, removable carpet, safety glass walk-through windshield, courtesy lights, cupholders, multiple stowage compartments, teak swim platform, ICS unibody construction with Plexus, five-color gelcoat.

Options on Test Boat

Upgrade to a MerCruiser 350 Magnum MPI engine ($1,351), Air Warrior package: ballast system, tower and exterior graphics ($2,355), Silver package: four-speaker stereo, bass cover, pull-out cleats ($761).


3 seconds 24 mph
5 seconds 35 mph
10 seconds 43 mph
15 seconds NA

Midrange Acceleration

20-40 mph 5.9 seconds
30-50 mph NA
30-60 mph NA

Rpm vs. Mph

1000 7 mph
1500 14 mph
2000 23 mph
2500 28 mph
3000 32 mph
3500 36 mph
4000 39 mph
4500 42 mph

Top Speed

Speedometer 44 mph at 4600 rpm
Radar 44.3 mph at 4600 rpm
Nordskog Performance Products GPS 43.1 mph at 4600 rpm


Time to plane 2.3 seconds
Minimum planing speed 14 mph

Fuel Economy

At 25 mph 4.2 mpg
At 35 mph 3.2 mpg
At WOT 2.1 mpg
Fuel capacity 38 gallons


Fineline Industries/Centurion
Dept. PB
455 Grogan Ave.
Merced, CA 95340
(209) 384-0255

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

More Features

How to Make Spring Boat Chores Fun: 5 Tips
“Chores” and “fun” are two ...
Is Nylon Strapping OK for My Batteries?
With sealed, valve-regulated batteries, nylon ...

More News

The 5 weirdest ways to capsize a boat include a ...
Get peace of mind and keep your boat safe, without ...

How To