VEC stands for Virtual Engineered Composites, and it’s changing the way we look at boat building. In a nutshell, it replaces the time-honored method of having a team of workers painstakingly rolling out any air bubbles or imperfections in layers of fiberglass to try and get a uniform layered hull. Then, the hull must cure for hours, or a day or more in most cases.With VEC, water is used to create high pressure (remember high school physics- you can’t compress a liquid) in the clam-shell molds that fiberglass is injected into. The result is a uniformly perfect hull from one to the next with near surgical precision. And the laminates are as tough as nails. The boats pop out of the mold at the rate of roughly one every 45-60 minutes! It can also be done by just a few people and the whole process is computer controlled by techs monitoring the (over 400) variables. This is VEC technology and it also means we don’t have to worry about a boat being built on a Monday or Friday anymore. They all come out computer-controlled perfect.
Going Green (with Envy)
Irwin Jacobs, FinCraft’s owner, tells us FinCraft boats built with VEC Technology are the industry’s cleanest and most environmentally friendly boats in the world. Boat manufacturing with VEC Technology reduces styrene emissions by over 90% compared to traditional fiberglass boat manufacturing methods, and won the prestigious “Clean Air Excellence Award” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Such an honor has never been awarded to a boat manufacturer before.
The FinCraft 1850 DC
Now let’s see what the 1850 DC brings to the table. As usual, the “DC” stands for Dual Console and the starboard-mounted helm is one of them. Simplicity is the key word here, and there’s a strong argument for keeping things in easy mode. There are three gauges: a speedo, tach, and, in the middle of the two, a fuel gauge. To the starboard side of the helm is a standard fish finder. Switches for nav lights, bilge pump, and the horn are on the port side next to the ignition.
To port is the second console which simply gives the observer a place to put his stuff. The boat comes with three “deluxe” swivel seats as standard, and a fourth is optional. Two are on removable pedestals so you can be seated while fishing at the bow or stern positions.
A word about these pedestal bases is in order. These are far from your typical “stick the pedestal in the hole” type of base. On FinCraft, their entire lineup of pedestal seats feature threaded pedestals. You screw them into the base, and then lock them in place with a locking collar, and (as if that weren’t enough) they are further locked by a spring-loaded pin. The result is the strongest and sturdiest pedestals I’ve seen. To remove, lift the locking collar, press a button that releases the spring loaded pin and unscrew. I struggled with them at first, pulling my brains out trying to simply lift them, but once I saw how they worked I became a quick fan.
Looking at the layout will tell you a lot about how well the boat can handle its mission of getting you on the fish for less money. You’re not giving up anything here. The Minn Kota trolling motor is standard. Two bow compartments will store your gear and a pedestal base lies in between, right in the center of the bow. Just ahead of the port windshield is a console-mounted storage compartment that can serve as a beverage cooler or, as an option, an aerated baitwell. In the center of the dual consoles is a walkthrough windshield with a lockable rod storage compartment in the deck. We’ve seen this type of compartment before and continue to believe that it’s a great use of that space. Also in this compartment is a removable deck plate that covers the deep-cycle trolling battery. On our test boat, a stereo was mounted in the walkthrough against the starboard bulkhead. It's an unusual location to be sure, but it does allow the guy on the forward pedestal to control the tunes. Between the two forward seats is in-sole storage, and there’s additional storage to the outboard sides of the seats. The deck is noteworthy in relation to aluminum boats. This one is fiberglass self-draining and non-skid -- not carpeted, pressure-treated marine grade plywood. That means that at the end of the day, you break out the hose, rinse the boat off and you’re done. At the transom are two jump seats with seatbacks that fold down to create a casting deck - great spot for the kids while underway. Between the seats is an aerated livewell that traverses across two hatches and another pedestal base. So sitting in the aft pedestal seat, you can simply bend over and grab your bait out of the livewell. Aft of the jump seats are two storage compartments, the starboard housing the battery.
The Fiberglass Difference
Our tests show that this 1850 DC handles much like a ski boat, and that makes sense. She has the same 21 degree deadrise hull form that’s been used on Larson boats. It’s comprised of dual lifting strakes for better performance and a reverse chine for better stability in the turns. The reverse chines also add to the resting stability which is a plus in any boat with casting platforms. We found the boat to be dry in our tests. It’s also a safety conscious boat, with a deep cockpit that will keep the kids onboard. Height of the cockpit gunwales is 29” (.75 m).
So How Much Is It?
Pricing the FinCraft 1850 DC depends on what you want to power it with and what options you want to add. But for comparison sake… if you were to power yours with a 90-hp Evinrude E-TEC, you’d be looking in the area of $24,000 suggested retail.
We didn’t discuss a lot of options for this boat because most are already included. We did talk about the extra pedestal seat and bow baitwell. In addition to that, you can have canvas packages, an MP3 capable stereo with two speakers, and vinyl decking for the casting platforms. The boat comes with a painted trailer, and you can naturally opt for a galvanized version and brakes. Engines can come from any of the big four to suit your tastes and local mechanic. It takes some getting used to looking at this boat and not thinking aluminum. It’s still light, and its VEC hull with its high glass-to-resin ratio makes it tough. VEC makes the boat less costly to build and the savings are passed on to the consumer. It’s a win-win.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the FinCraft 1850 DC (2010-) is 39.3 mph (63.2 kph), burning 9.7 gallons per hour (gph) or 36.71 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the FinCraft 1850 DC (2010-) is 28.3 mph (45.5 kph), and the boat gets 5.38 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.29 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 170 miles (273.59 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 115-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke.
Standard and Optional Features
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