Expectations were exceeded on the first float and test run of the Pro 7. From computer screen, to CNC cutter, to the fab shop floor, and now on the water, the Pro 7’s first bath went off without a hitch.
The dock looked like the front row of an NBA finals games with seconds to go. The crew stood anxiously as water hit the hull for the first time. A big sigh of relief when the motor fired up on the first crank. A second big sigh once the Pro 7 left the support of the trailer and floated level with just one person in the back.
Level floatation, buoyancy and balance were the primary tests for the first run. The 42-gallon, in-floor fuel take had 20 gallons of fuel or about 160 pounds. The tank was not permanently secured so that it could be moved forward or aft to achieve the desired weight distribution.
The Pro 7 was run with a single driver, then two passengers and then three passengers. Weight was shifted from port to starboard at rest and on plane. Even with all three people on one side, the wide 7-foot bottom performed exactly as designed, leaning very little.
To simulate different loads, two battery boxes full of lead we’re placed far forward, on one side and completely aft. Regardless of where the weight was positioned, the Pro 7 came out of the hole with ease. In fact, the difference in bow rise with the added weight all the way forward and all the aft was negligible. We were all pleasantly surprised that a boat of this size with a 150 E-Tec outboard mated to a jetdrive would come on to plane in about a boat length and a half. Equally surprising was how well it accelerated and easily it ran with what would generally be considered “moderate horsepower” for a ride of this size. The lack of bow rise means this boat will be able to tempt shallow tailouts and beat feet without hitting bottom. Can’t wait until our river trial.
The boat was put through a series of turns at various speeds to measure tracking and handling. The addition of six proprietary solid extruded cupped planning strakes gave the “ride on rails” performance we expected. Not even the slightest sliding or skip was detected even in the sharpest high speed turns. I wasn’t too sure what to expect with this new straking system Duckworth’s developed but now I’m honestly impressed with what is no doubt a real innovation in welded aluminum boating.
With all the measurements in hand, the Pro 7 returned to shop for a few final tweaks and securing of the fuel tank at midship. On the next test run we go looking for swifter current and shallow water to see how the Pro 7 handles in her native environment.