Boat Review: Rampage 34 Express IPS

By combining the IPS pods with an excellent hull, Rampage breaks new ground in the small sport-fish market with the 34.

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When Rampage decided to redesign its 33-footer to accommodate Volvo Penta's IPS drives, the company needed a way to differentiate the boat from the company's old standard-propulsion model. So even though it may look like the old 33, Rampage completely changed the running surface, added loads of interior space and wound up with a boat that handles like a champion!

Some people still question the effectiveness of pod drives when compared to standard propulsion - and offshore anglers are notoriously change-averse. But from my personal experience, after testing several boats with pod drives, these new propulsion systems represent the single-greatest revolution in boating since the chart plotter.

In the case of the Rampage 34 Express with its twin 370 hp Volvo Penta 500-series diesels, fuel economy increased by an average of 30 to 50 percent at any given speed. And if you assign a numerical quotient to every performance aspect you can think of, you should realize an overall performance improvement of just more than 30 percent.

The most notable improvements in this boat include its turning radius, time to plane, bow rise, fish-fighting maneuverability and - of course - joystick docking.

For safety reasons, the pods turn more or less sharply according to your speed. Higher-speed turns scribe wider arcs. Back off the throttle to turn tighter - a means of keeping your guests safely inside the boat.

Then there's the joystick. When maneuvering around a dock, you can move the boat in any direction, including diagonally and sideways with IPS. You'll have a total blast playing with this function! Even your children can dock this Rampage with the skill of a professional.

A 70-square-foot cockpit affords multiple anglers room to fight fish simultaneously without stepping on each other. Between the comfortable settee on the bridge deck and the aft-facing module seat on the starboard cockpit module, watching the baits between strikes becomes quite relaxing. Rampage builds in large modules along the forward end for storing tackle and rigging baits, as well as a livewell in the transom.

Our day out on Lake Michigan didn't offer up the kind of seas that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald - we encountered a beautiful sunny trip with two-foot seas. Nonetheless, the Rampage exhibited a long roll moment with very gentle transitions when drifting thanks to its 13-foot beam. I believe the

running attitude improves with the IPS drives as well, with the bow cutting more directly into the seas. When you do encounter heavier conditions, the 34's broad shoulders at the bow provide tremendous buoyancy, making running down-sea safe and secure. This design also opens up the forward berth considerably.

Belowdecks, the 34 resembles the old 33 - except with more space. The dinette table drops to create a queen-size V-berth in the bow, and two more singles line the bulkheads above the large bunk. Or, if you wish, you can create four singles without the drop-down table. The salon sofa also converts into a double berth.

By combining the IPS pods with an excellent hull, Rampage breaks new ground in the small sport-fish market with the 34. In fact, even if you aren't planning to buy a new boat right away, you really should seek out and sea-trial the Rampage 34, just to experience what the next generation will bring. - Dean Travis Clarke

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......35'6"
**BEAM......
13'
DEADRISE......18 degrees
DRAFT......2'5"
WEIGHT......23,000 pounds
FUEL......400 gallons
MAX POWER......T 435 hp Volvo diesels
Price......$417,253 (w/ 370 hp Volvo Penta D6 IPS 500)**

Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts / Oconto, Wisconsin / 920-834-2211 / www.rampageyachts.com