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Cetacea Page 49

January 19, 2002

The Conquest of Boston Whaler

Fellow Michigan Boston Whaler owner (21 Walk-Around) Jeff Angeleri (aka ledfoot) wisely spent some recent vacation time in the sunny and warm climate of southern Florida and contributed a series of fine digital images of several new or recent Boston Whaler boats, including the 2002 255 CONQUEST model which he happened to come across in his travels.

The "all-new" 255 CONQUEST represents a giant departure from previous Whaler styling. Through the years, through the owners, and through the designers there had been one fairly constant element of the Boston Whaler boat hull, its sheer line. You could change the dead rise, you could change the bow entry, you could move the chines, and you could eliminate the smirk, but a "Whaler" always had a straight sheer line. When a "Euro" transom was grafted on that modified the sheer in the extreme stern, but for most of the boat it still ran straight. The 255 CONQUEST model puts that tradition to rest.

Boldly going where SeaSwirl, Scout, and many others had gone before, Whaler introduces the reverse-curving sheer on the 255 CONQUEST. Jeff, who happens to design General Motors vehicles for a living, describes it as "derivative" and finds the forward half reminiscent of "a Grady-White bow."

The new boat certainly has a significantly different appearance than its predecessors. In the past Whaler designs have tried to preserve their characteristic low freeboard and straight sheer that sloped gently down from the bow to the stern by using the prominent line of the rub rail to dominate over the actual sheer line. The rub rail is placed on the hull so it slopes down slightly to the stern, even if the actual sheer line of the boat does not. And the rub rail is often placed several inches below the actual sheer line, drawing the eye away from the added height of the gunwales. This trompe l'oeil allows the boat to have the appearance of lower freeboard than it actually does, and it maintains a brand style or look consistent with the previous boats.

The designers of the 255 CONQUEST have done a nice job in drawing the lines of this curving sheer. It is not an ugly boat, but it is just a boat that does not look like a Whaler.


Photo: 2002 255 Conquest Profile view on display ashore
Sheer Genius
The new 2002 255 Conquest model from Boston Whaler introduces a drastic change in the style of the legendary hull: the straight sheer line has been abandoned. In its place a triple reversing curve more the trademark of a SEASWIRL than a WHALER. That red stripe in the hull appears to be just an accent line, perhaps placed to suggest the older hull style where a small chine was often molded in about that same location. Note how the rub rail line varies from the actual sheer line profile. It will be interesting to see how all these curves fit together when the hull is floating on its waterlines.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-01


Photo: 2002 255 Conquest port stern quarter view showing details of trim tab pockets
Transom Details
The stern appears to have pockets molded into transom for mounting trim tabs. The transom can handle twin engines. The beam is 102-inches, still trailerable without special permits. Behind the motor to starboard is a transom gate for easy boarding.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-02


Photo: 2002 255 Conquest cockpit showing helm console and seating
255 Conquest Cockpit
The Conquest cockpit offers seating for four under the optional hard top. The boat comes pre-rigged with Mercury's Smart Gauge package. The elliptical design of the instrument area is a bit jarring. It has an automotive look to it, and it contrasts markedly with the traditional nautical dome light on the hard top. In general, the ellipse is a shape not usually associated with the previous 44 years of boat designs of the Boston Whaler company. The entertainment speakers in the cockpit bulwarks also seem un-Whalerlike. What sort of tunes to you play while fishing in one of these? Pink Floyd? (By the way, the pink tone seen here is not representative; the gelcoat is white.)
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-03


Photo: 2002 255 Conquest on display ashore
Sending Up a Red Flag
The dealer (Gulfwind Marine) has the new boat flying a red WHALER flag to help identify the brand. The 225-HP Optimax on the transom is not a small engine, but here it looks rather petite. This is a good indication of the size of this boat.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-04


Industrial Strength

While "snooping around" Sarasota in "mediocre weather", Jeff also found this recent 28-foot Outrage Accutrack hull, which he felt "is pretty industrial looking." In contrast to the curvy Conquest lines, this boat does look positively Neo-classic!


Photo: 28-Outrage Accutrack Hull in water profile view
Sea Power
With 450 horsepower on the transom, this big Whaler 28-foot Outrage suggests "industrial strength." In the background, note the elliptical windows on the SeaRay, where they belong.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-05


Photo: 28-Outrage Accutrack hull in water, transom view, twin 225 HP Mercury Optimax outboards
Twins on Transom
The business end of the 28-Outrage Accutrack hull. The hull mold provides pockets for trim tabs.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-06


Sarasota Rescue

Finally, a true classic, the 25-foot Bob Dougherty hull in the Frontier trim, in service as a Rescue boat for Sarasota County (Florida). Here you can see the straight sheer line and low freeboard that we've been talking about as emblematic of the "classic" boats of the Boston Whaler company.


Photo: 25-Frontier Rescue Boat with Whaler Drive, in water, profile view
Classic Whaler to the Rescue
After all those curving sheer lines and high freeboard, it is refreshing to see the classic Whaler profile in this 25-foot hull. With a Whaler Drive, large twin outboards, dive tanks, and a large pump, this boat is heavily loaded and floats a bit low on her lines.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-07



Jeff and Rosie Angeleri have a 21 Walk-Around, a boat similar to the 255 CONQUEST in that they are both trailerable cuddy cabins. The 21 Walk-Around was a styling innovation in its time, too. Produced after the sale of Whaler to Reebok, the boat had a new hull design and a very gently upward curving sheer.


Photo: 1992 21 Walk-Around
Sheer Fun
Here is Jeff's boat, a 1992 21 Walk-Around. Upon its introduction in the early 1990's this design was seen as a radical departure from the Whaler look. Rosie waves hello from the cockpit.
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-08


Photo: 1992 21 Walk-Around on Bunk Trailer
Trailerable Cuddy Cabin
Here is another look at the lines of the 21 Walk Around. Some of the best fun in boating comes with being able to trailer a boat that has accommodations for over-nighting. Jeff's 21 Walk-Around is on a new AMERICAN-brand bunk trailer, hooked to a nice new GM Truck. By the way, the last time I saw that truck Jeff had stripped it to the chassis and was rebuilding the entire rear end with a custom air ride suspension--these auto guys!
PhotoCredit: Jeff Angeleri - Reference: 49-09


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Copyright © 2002 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!

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This article first appeared January 19, 2002. Photo 49-01 was replaced with a higher quality JPEG file of the same image on January 24, 2002.
Last modified: Sunday, 01-Jun-2003 14:56:38 EDT
Author: James W. Hebert