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BOAT TEST: 2008 Albemarle 290XF - page 2 / 7





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2008 Albemarle 290XF

About the time I shoved the rod's butt into my stomach and snatched back, the fish blasted from the face of a gray roller like he was sent for. I yelped, cranking slack until I could feel the squeeze of the Daiwa's drag. The vision that shortly evolved was one I'll have no trouble seeing in my mind's eye 20 years from now. The graceful silver fish began leaping like a greyhound amid the peaks and valleys, with shots of sunshine turning the monofilament between us into a shining gossamer thread.

The fight was on! With shouts from Brandon and my legs braced against the optional coaming pad, I muscled straight into the give and take that landing a fair-size sailfish calls for. Frothy waters thrashed at the transom, and the roar of the boat's twin 315-hp Yanmars rose and fell as we charged backwards. Albemarle's marketing guy, Ted Haigler, stood with his rear against the pod-type steering station, a Palm Beach-style engine-control lever in each hand, working the Konzaki gears with a will.

What a boat! This sentiment came to me twice during the ensuing 15 minutes: once as Haigler twin-screwed an abrupt right-hand turn while going dang-near full astern, and again as he chased the fish in a big, backwards-plowing circle. "Hang in there!" Haigler yelled before barreling into the first maneuver, and "One more time, Bill," as he initiated the second.

The sticky softness of the coaming pad helped me stay upright throughout all the dodging and feinting, as did the no-nonsense nonskid under my deck shoes and the beamy breadth of the 29, a feature that produces just enough transverse stability to keep a guy solidly in the cockpit while both his hands are occupied with tasks vastly more compelling than plain ol' hangin' on for dear life.

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