Boat Review: The (New) Cabo 35

Cabo has completely redesigned and re-executed the hulls of its 35-footers - the Express and the Flybridge.

Cabo Yachts has long been considered the benchmark by which other comparable-size production boats are judged. It's good to see that a company at the top of the business doesn't rest on its laurels and makes the effort to continually improve.

Cabo has completely redesigned and re-executed the hulls of its 35-footers - the Express and the Flybridge. Naval architect W.I.B. Crealock drew the lines of the original Cabo 35, the boat that in 1992 propelled Cabo Yachts from an upstart company with big ideas to one of the most recognized production sport-fishing boatbuilders in the world.

As good as the first Cabo 35 was, it still had its bugs. The original design sometimes delivered a hard and wet head-sea ride that meant slowing down to 18 or 20 knots in seas of 3 feet or more. To make sure the company maintained its preeminent position in the market, Cabo hired Lou Codega, considered one of the best high-speed planing-hull designers today. Codega, working in concert with the rest of the Cabo design and engineering team, has made some truly notable refinements.

Like the original Crealock design, the Cabo 35 sports very little bow flare that robs interior space. The new hull features two chines running back from the stem. One starts about 8 inches above the waterline while the other starts about 5 inches above it. The lower one functions as a normal chine, while the upper one acts as a spray rail up at the bow and carries all the way back to the transom. Company officials say the new chines allow the 35 to keep its interior space while also drying out the ride significantly.

At idle speed, there's no discernable difference between the Crealock- and the Codega-designed hulls. At a 30-knot cruising speed, the new Cabo 35 proved very agile, while drifting caused the boat to roll comfortably with no violent snap or awkward motion. Taking a head sea, the new design carved through it more softly and with less resistance. With a much finer entry, dropping the bow with the trim tabs really smoothed out a chop better than before. In following seas, the older models also slowed down a bit when confronting the back of the next wave. The Codega model suffers less from this performance aspect. Perhaps the greatest difference between the two designs is the way the new 35 sits higher in the water. Fighting a fish, I felt the new hull actually spins better than the old one.
Back in calm water, I eked out a 33.1-knot top end at 2,900 rpm with twin Cat 3208 TAs, each producing 375 hp. But perhaps more important than top speed (and there are many things more important), at a 7-knot trolling speed, the Cabo 35 hull has one of the cleanest wakes I've ever seen.