Florida is undoubtedly the home of “boatgating” – the art of tailgating on a boat! Also known as stern-gating or sailgating for those on a sailboat, it’s becoming increasingly more elaborate and involved. Tailgaters traditionally gather around a vehicle’s open tailgate in parking lots outside football stadiums and arenas prior to big sporting events or concerts. But when you’re talking boatgating, you’re talking parties on the water – which means it’s a whole new ballgame!
Boat manufacturers have grown wise to this trend and are now including more features geared specifically towards boatgating – with vessels that push the envelope in terms of luxury, entertainment, performance and comfort. So which boats really stand out as the best boatgating boats? We went out on the water to conduct some very serious “research” and gather this detailed round-up of our favorite boatgating boats in 2019.
Below are our top 5 best picks for boatgating boats.
1 – Harris Crowne SL 270
For this sea trial, we met up for some boatgating with WKMG Channel 6 CBS news reporter Clay LePard in Orlando, along with boat dealer MarineMax at Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar on Lake Fairview. MarineMax was kind enough to bring out a fully-loaded Harris pontoon boat – a Crowne SL 270, with all the bells and whistles. We quickly grabbed some food and drinks to go – including such staple tailgate snacks as hot wings, mozzarella sticks, fries and dips – then hit the water.
From the outset it was clear: this isn’t your grandfather’s pontoon boat! With a 400-horsepower Mercury Racing Verado 400r outboard motor mounted on the rear, our sleek party barge for the day was capable of reaching a top speed of over 55MPH. Of course, we were aboard for a more casual affair so we didn’t push the needle too far, but the power was obvious as soon as we pushed off from the dock. When our captain Stephanie Ecimovic inched the throttle up, the motor leaped into action and nearly sent the appetizers into our laps. “You didn’t see pontoon boats built like this 10 years ago”, she laughed.
Out on the water the stability was remarkable. The particular boat we were on had the level 2.5 performance package upgrade, which includes a third center tube below deck that is positioned a full inch lower than the outer tubes. This helps cut through the water better and technically makes it a tri-toon boat.
In terms of boatgating, this thing has it all. With a sporty, sophisticated design and a spacious layout the boat features ergonomic seating for up to 16 adults, insulated coolers under the seats and a Sirius XM-ready platinum sound system with two enclosed subwoofers and 8 JL marine speakers to make sure you can hear the game play from wherever you sit.
The bar area was the focal point of the vessel. Here everyone can congregate around the spread of finger foods, beer buckets, cocktails, wine and ice. It was fully equipped with a refrigerator, stainless steel sink and convenient storage closets, as well as stable bar stools and a tiered-counter providing ample drink holders for all.
For water sports, the Crowne SL 270 has a fully automatic ski tow bar with canvas Bimini that raises and lowers quickly and easily. The sporty design also features all digital gauges and touch-screen switches for all the accessories, similar to most modern wake boats. Overall, this is probably the best all-around boatgating boat we’ve been aboard.
2 – Tiara Sport 38 LS
A 38-foot center console boat is usually considered an ideal vessel for offshore sport fishing trips.
However, Tiara Sport has designed the 38 LS model more for day yachting and pleasure cruising than fishing, making it the ultimate in high-end boatgating. With this vessel, Tiara has built the premiere, on-the-water, entertaining machine. From its gigantic, swiveling rear table to its outdoor air-conditioning, this yacht is one serious luxury party boat.
The Tiara Sport 38 LS features a centralized, outdoor grill that is perfect for tailgating parties, and best of all – it has an optional flatscreen TV that can be mounted just above the grill and viewed by everyone in the rear of the boat. Here you can sit in comfort on a plush lounge seat below the telescoping, fully-retractable, powered sunshade overhead. Built around “all-day yachting” this vessel is designed for comfort and relaxation.
When it comes to performance, this yacht has spared no expense. Ours came equipped with Seven Marine.
Sitting in the captain’s chair, we found nearly 360-degree visibility from the helm below a molded fiberglass hardtop that provides ample protection from the sun and elements.
3- Premier 310 Escalante
If you want to take your boatgating to the next level, Premier’s 310 Escalante is one of the most spectacular double-decker pontoon boats on the water. The Escalante features a two-story layout with a curved stairway and LED lighting (including underwater package), refrigerator, wine cooler and sink. It even has a bath/changing room for those long days out on the water. Options include large ski tow bar and saltwater package.
4 – Avalon Ambassador Funship
An amazing double-deck pontoon with a water slide and more, the Ambassador Funship is a dream-come-true for parents and kids alike. Enjoy a comfortable day on the water with plush furnishings, high-end electronics, solid construction, and more. The Funship is sure to be a hit with your family on gamely.
5 – Regal 38 SAV
On a recent visit to Regal, CEO Duane Kuck told YachtWorld “we’re committed to building premium pleasure boats”. That commitment truly shines through in the Regal 38 SAV. Similar in luxury and performance level to the Tiara 38 LS mentioned earlier, this is one serious yacht that can also host an amazing boatgating party on those big game days with your whole crew in tow.
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