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Checkmate Going Smaller with New-Model Focus

Under the leadership of Doug Smith, the founder and former owner of Baja Performance Boats, Checkmate Boats has advanced on several fronts including adding new models and upgrading existing models, as well as enhancing overall product quality—the company even revamped its website earlier this month. With the collapse of the production performance-boat world, Smith has correctly recognized that regional builders such as Checkmate, which is based in Bucyrus, Ohio, offers models from 21 to 35 feet long and has a strong following in the Midwest, can go a long way toward filling the void.

Smith’s take on the market at present? Smaller, outboard-powered models are the way to go, and that will be Checkmate’s focus for the immediate future.

“We are concentrating on several new outboard models,” Smith told me in a recent email. “In the field research I’ve done, it seems that the under-30-foot market is selling but the over-30-foot market is very slow and anything that is being sold is at huge discounts.

“We are surprised that the Mercury Verados are so strong,” Smith added. “We are finding that speed difference between the Mercury OptiMax outboard engines and the Verado engines is only to two to three miles per hour.”