Sea Force IX 81.5

Sea Force IX, a new Florida boatbuilding company, will deliver its first Force IX 811/2-foot sportfisherman within a few months. In keeping with the boat's sleek but comfortingly familiar profile, the design and construction are evolutionary but not radical.

The hull transitions from sharp sections forward into a constant-deadrise moderate-V aft. Two spray strakes run most of the hull's length, and a single chine rises gradually as the sheer drops toward the bow. Tank-test videos indicate clean running in calm water and minimal pounding with moderate spray in heavier weather at speeds up to the calculated top end of 35 knots.

The hull sides and bottom are a foam-cored vinylester composite with areas of solid laminate where through-hulls are fitted. It is vacuum-bagged for a tight and void-free structure, as are the superstructure and other major composite parts. The parts are then bonded with epoxy, and the assembly is cured at a high temperature to create a monocoque structure that better resists rocking at sea.

The company offers several interior arrangements in open- or enclosed-bridge versions. The "B model, pictured, has three staterooms and three heads forward, with a three-berth crew area below the galley. I prefer the "A plan, which reduces the galley's countertop space but has a separate master stairway to starboard. Both have a VIP stateroom forward with a queen island berth. In either plan, the central guest stateroom, shown here with twin berths, can be outfitted with a queen.

The "C plan" squeezes in another central stateroom and an extra berth in the VIP stateroom. Unless you need to sleep nine guests and three crew on a regular basis, it is an arrangement that loses the capacity-versus-comfort debate.

The saloon permits easy traffic flow in all directions. Its layout is the same on all versions, with a settee and table in the after port corner, and casual dining around the galley's open bar and at a dinette to starboard. My favorite feature is a small wet bar, ideally situated adjacent to the aft door. It will see lots of use.

Between the open observation deck and the cockpit, an enlarged intermediate step in the stairway on each side serves as a small but functional boarding area, easing what is an awkward and sometimes dangerous exercise on many sportfishermen. The cockpit, with transom bait wells and under-sole fishboxes, is big enough for two chairs and lots of locker space. Little space is dedicated to bait prep, as this first boat's owner handles that task ashore, but the company says all cockpit fit-outs can be customized.

The enclosed bridge sports an abundance of seating and amenities. Outside, an aft-facing bench and a stand-up helm provide excellent views of the fishing action. The open-bridge version has a modernistic circular layout with ample seating, but it loses points for its lack of long, straight benches for napping in the sun between hook-ups.

The 81.5 is a solid design that retains the best of tradition while adding some good ideas of her own. She promises to be an attractive and functional sportfisherman at home among the rare semi-custom models available in this size range.

Contact: Sea Force IX Inc., (941) 721-9009; www.seaforceix.com. For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877