By Lenny Rudow
Sportsman Heritage 229 Center Console: Fish or Cut Bait
This no-nonsense center console fishboat is designed for serious anglers in search of serious saltwater fishing.
If you’re sick and tired of center console “fishing” boats that are fat with creature comforts at the expense of cockpit space and fishing features, the Heritage 229, from Sportsman Boats, is a new model you’ll want to check out. We had a chance to hop aboard at the Miami Boat Show, and discovered that this isn’t just a new model, it’s an all-new brand.
Wait a sec—if Sportsman is a new company that hasn’t established a reputation yet, how could you ever feel secure signing on the dotted line? For starters, one of the company principals it Tommy Hancock, who was an original founder at Sea Pro. Another, Dale Martin, was an original founder at Key West Boats. So these guys have a healthy supply of boat-building experience. And, they back it up by giving the Heritage a fully transferrable 10 year hull warranty.
More about that hull: it’s an 18-degree semi-V which is moderate for a center console of this size, but it also has an aggressive 55-degree entry. That means trimming down the bow should help take the punch out of the seas. A big up-side to the 18-degree transom deadrise is enhanced stability, which will be great for anglers who enjoy drift fishing as well as for running in the trough, plus it helps keep draft down to a minimum. But enough about what this boat is like when it’s restrained by mooring lines and no-wake zones—get outside the breakwater, open up the 200-HP Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboard, and feel the rush of freedom blowing through your hair. At a 4500 RPM cruise this boat scoots along at over 35-mph and when wide-open, hits 47-MPH. You want to break 50? You can opt up to a 250 HP powerplant which, according to Yamaha, will take the Heritage 229 up to 52.9 MPH.
Now pull back the throttles, and get ready to deploy the fishing lines. The Sportsman has a solid list of standard fishing features including a pair of livewells, a raw water washdown, a leaning post with rocket launchers and tackle stowage, and a built-in cooler seat. My favorite, however, is the built-in bucket box in the foredeck—how many times have you wished for a convenient spot to stow a five-gallon bucket, on a boat of this size, once you were finished with the cast net?
In its stock form the boat may be ready to fish, but not at 100-percent. Cockpit bolsters, a second livewell pump, the T-top with rocket launchers, electronics box, and spreader lights, and a pair of Taco outriggers are optional features which serious anglers will consider must-haves. Even with these goodies onboard the boat’s fishability could be improved, if the livewells were a bit larger. They’re pretty limited, at eight gallons each. There’s also room for improvement in the fish stowage department, because the only integrated boxes are under the bow seats. If you run the 229 out to blue-water fishing grounds when the weather allows and you get lucky enough to gaff a tuna, you’d better have a fish-bag onboard.
|Fuel capacity||103 gal.|
|Water capacity||10 gal.|
A few details on this boat provide clear evidence of the builder’s experience. Take note of the bow anchor locker, for example. It’s wide enough to get a shoulder through for those times when the rode gets snarled; the line can run out through a notch in the hatch, so it sits flush; and there’s a pipe mounted in the center to hold the shank of a Danforth, to keep that anchor from bouncing around while you’re running to the hotspots. What about a back-up anchor? No problem—Sportsman thought about that, too, and put a rack for a second anchor underneath the aft access hatch. And that aft access hatch provides another clear indication of boat-building acumen. On boats of this size getting into the bilge is usually nightmarish, and you can plan on squeezing body parts through insufficient hatches while groping blindly for pumps, through-hulls, and transducers. But the entire center aft bench swings up on the Heritage, on a pair of gas-assisted struts. There’s plenty of space to see and reach everything from pumps to wiring to trim motors to that back-up anchor rack we just mentioned. While you’re gazing at the boat’s innards, also take note of the fact that the access is gasketed and that hatch dogs down tight, to prevent water intrusion. Even something as simple as the deck drainage system, which is protected by flush grates and sized to shed large volumes of water in short amounts of time, points to smart design and execution.
|Test conditions: slight chop, winds to 5 knots, 2 POB|
|Power||Single Yamaha F-250 Four-Stroke outboard|
|Prop||15″ x 21″ three-bladed stainless-steel|
Though the Heritage 229 doesn’t have the glitz and glam found on many modern powerboats—thank goodness—it does have a few items which will keep the comfort-inclined members of your family happy. The bow seats have removable backrests, and the amount of seating is significantly more than on many boats of this size. The drawback, of course, is that the cockpit seating eats into your available fishing space a bit. Give a little, get a little.
The console compartment will also up the comfort-factor, since it’s large enough for a portable MSD and it has a port to let in some natural light. The finish inside is fairly raw, but again I say thank goodness. If Sportsman spent a ton of time and effort to pretty-up areas like this, they’d never be able to offer the Heritage 229 at a reasonable price. And with a base that’s just a hair over $50,000, this boat sells for a good bit less than most of the competition. A similarly equipped (and much better finished) Boston Whaler 230 Dauntless, which sits at the opposite end of the price spectrum for example, could cost half that much again. Even the more workboat-like Jones Brothers 23 can’t match the Heritage’s price tag. So if you’d rather sink your hard-earned dollars into maximum LOA and smart design as opposed to creature comforts and flashy looks, check out the Sportsman Heritage 229. The company may be new, but the no-nonsense attitude is one we die-hard anglers know and love.
For more information, visit Sportsman Boats.
- Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including Boats.com and Yachtworld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design who has won 28 BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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