In a conference call with the leadership team at Fountain Powerboats and Mercury Racing’s Steve Miller on Tuesday afternoon, speedonthewater.com took a virtual video walk-through of the new-and-improved 42 Lightning that the Washington, N.C., company has been working on for some time—an exciting new model offering that Fountain can’t wait to showcase being that it’s arguably the most legendary model from the iconic boatbuilder that was founded four decades ago.
At least that’s what Fred Ross, the managing director of the company behind Fountain as well as Donzi Marine and Baja Marine, had to say on Tuesday. He’s been pushing the high-performance category ever since taking over the business a few years ago.
Based on the most popular sportboat model in Fountain Powerboats history, the new 42 Lightning is coming this summer.
“This is an exciting time for us even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic—something I’ve never witnessed before, and I’m 62 years old and thought I’d seen everything,” Ross said. “I’m positive we’ll get through this OK, and for that reason we’re continuing to go forward as we have been lately with the release of Fountain’s new 47 Lightning, 34 Thunder Cat and 34 Sport Console, not to mention the new Baja Outlaws and Donzi 38 ZRC, 44 Icon cat, 41 GTZ and even the 22 Classic. We’re serious about high-performance boats with outboard and sterndrive power. And this is proof positive of that.
“Mercury Racing builds a superior product, a product that continues to move this industry forward,” he continued. “The customer went with some bigger, higher-dollar power in the first new 42 Lightning, but with Mercury’s range of products, the price on the new 42 could fluctuate considerably as someone could choose between a pair of the company’s 565, 700, 860, 1100, 1350 or even 1550 engines. We know there is a lot of interest in this model, and we think performance boaters are going to appreciate the updates we’ve done to it—even those loyal to other brands.”
Following Ross’ introduction, Jeff Harris, Fountain’s chief operating officer, guided us through the modifications and highlights of the new 42-foot offshore V-bottom, the first of which is already sold and going to be powered by twin dual-calibration turbocharged Mercury Racing 1350/1100 engines.
Aesthetics aside, the most important change is that the boat is built using a new and more precise hull mold based off the same 42-foot Fountain design.
“We built a plug out of the old mold and then, using digital measuring equipment, technology we didn’t have years ago when we were building a lot of 42s, we built the new hull mold from that,” Harris explained. “Back in the day we weren’t able to make it really symmetrical because nothing was digital like it is nowadays. We expect the boat to run very well and can’t wait to start testing it.”
Harris pointed out that he and his talented team were careful to keep the lines of the classic model while giving the deck some modern touches. Updates include a one-piece wraparound windshield, a single hydraulic-hinge-equipped engine hatch rather than two that open from the middle and an entirely new transom design that makes it easier to embark and disembark the boat thanks to a pull-out ladder in the center of the bustle with grab handles on each side and a couple of wide transom steps that double as seats covered in EVA marine flooring.
Fountain also added oversized steps to make it easier to get in and out of the cockpit, which features two uniquely designed electric-actuated stand-up bolster seats, a three-person rear bench and a starboard-side helm station that can be outfitted with controls to the right or left if desired—in classic Fountain style—of the steering wheel.
Options at the helm station include large Garmin GPS screens, VesselView displays, Livorsi Marine gauges, tab indicators and more. Displays are available in the back of the bolsters between a pair of cupholders and above the grab handle.”
Check out the slideshow above for more CAD renderings of the new 42 Lightning.
As for the 42-footer’s cabin, Harris described the current layout that includes a small galley area with an insulated cooler and an optional refrigerator and freshwater tank, an enclosed head locker and facing lounges with a table that converts to a V-berth will a filler cushion as “modern, convenient and even a little spartan,” adding that buyers who view a sportboat cabin as nothing more than a big stowage space can make it even more spartan. The boat can be ordered minus the fridge, sink and head unit. However, the nifty cedar-lined hanging closet is standard.
While many of Fountain’s dealers concentrate primarily on its center console lines, Harris said the response to the 42 Lightning from the dealers has been excellent. Scheduled for delivery to a buyer in July, the first build is well underway. Retail price as equipped is in the mid-to-high $700,000 range—and no we didn’t ask about estimated top speed; we figured that was better left for a story once testing is underway.
“Our dealer network is very excited about this rollout,” said Fred Pace, Fountain’s director of dealer development. “We know that the sterndrive market is smaller than the outboard market, but it’s still very visible and our key dealers can’t wait to get their hands on one.”
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