by Dom Wiseman

There are few boats more suited to the entry level buyer than a Bayliner. These US built boats have a long tradition of design and build excellence aimed directly at this type of consumer and the new 2012 175 Flight is perfectly suited. At an overall length of 17 foot, 6 inches and a weight under 1000 kilograms, this boat is manageable on the water by a relative novice and towable by a wide range of vehicles including a family sedan.

The 175 Flight is a bowrider style meaning the bow is designed to include seating and is aimed squarely at social boaters and families. The Flight package adds a tower, swim platform and head turning graphics to turn a standard bowrider into a social wakeboarding boat with a minimum of fuss and hassle for the owner.

Bayliner175 Flight fast

The boat itself has been redesigned for 2012 and the team at Bayliner have succeeded in changing just enough while maintaining the quality and essence that make it a Bayliner boat. What they do extremely well is build to a standard that most people would be more than happy with, in the end, saving you money on things you don’t really need.

One of the most obvious changes to this year’s design has been at the rear of the boat around the engine box. Previously this box has largely been wasted and unusable space which, while designed to compliment the overall style of the boat, could have been used more creatively. For 2012 the usability, always craved but never delivered is here in spades. The engine box now features a flat non-skid surface on top with a lower recessed area which doubles as a step and area for items you want off the floor while underway. The ubiquitious moulded cup holders have also been integrated to be more accessible.

Bayliner175 Flight running faster

The engine box also has latches to keep it closed, instead of relying on gravity to do the job. When opened the lower portion of the box is cut low enough to allow easy maintenance access all around the standard 135hp 3.0L Mercruiser. One disappointment is that there are no engine upgrade options.

The extended swim platform adds 0.6m to the overall length of the boats and is bolted lower to the water than the existing moulded 30cm wide platform. This makes it ideal for putting on boards before hitting the water and also includes a port to allow visibility of the stern-drive unit below. A recessed three step boarding ladder on the starboard side is well placed to allow the driver visibility of anyone climbing back onto the boat.

Bayliner175 Flight console

Inside the 175 Flight, the passengers are accommodated on twin jump seats located either side of the engine box or on a back to back seat which is a design that has been around for many years now. This seating arrangement creates open space in the cockpit while also allowing either a forward facing ride to the nearest on water restaurant or a rear facing ride while observing a boarder or skier. Folding the passenger seat flat is a bit of a task but once locked in place makes a tidy and comfortable sunbed.

The helm seat on the 175 is extremely low and ensures you are looking through the windscreen rather than at the frame or over it. I found it quite comfortable to sit in while underway, however, when towing a boarder and feeling like I needed a little more visibility, preferably over the windscreen frame, it became difficult to comfortably prop myself up in. Sitting on an old foam style lifejacket helped but a bolster could have been useful here.

Bayliner 175 Flight seating

Of particular interest was the new minimalist helm layout which in its new streamlined appearance will make it easier for the driver and entry level boaters to keep an eye on all the engine readouts without be bamboozled by an array of moving dials. The new dash design condenses what was seemingly a dozen dials or switches into just two multipurpose readouts framed by two more moulded cup holders which, no doubt will accommodate more than just drinks on occasion. Below is a switch panel which sits alongside the tilt steering wheel.

The old passenger console, which was did not have a lid and remained open, resulting in things flying around the cockpit endlessly has been replaced with a closed compartment which accommodates the stereo and a 12 volt power supply. Perfect for wallets and keys.
The helm and passenger seats are separated by a walkway forward. Underfoot is a roomy storage compartment which is in fact the only one I found in the cockpit of the boat. It does drain directly to the bilge and perhaps if it were my boat I would line the compartment with some foam or rubber mats. The walkthrough windshield is gasketed on both sides and doesn’t rattle underway. It opens against a rubber stopper but on extremely windy days it may be advisable to have a strap to keep the window from blowing closed.

Bayliner 175 Flight bow seating

The bow seating is comfortable enough, and there is enough room for me being 5’9 tall. The usual storage accommodations are underneath both seats.

The all new tower standing proudly over the helm seat is an aluminium forward swept tower design which is a vast improvement on the towers previous seen on the 175. Constructed of aluminium, the angle of the tower has been created to compliment the curves of the boat from the deck line to the waterline. An integrated bimini is also included in Australia which is also designed to work with the tower angles. It provides shade and cover for passengers and allows for full vision for the driver while boarding.

Performance

The 175 is easy to handle with the steering providing a sure and safe response. The 175 does experience some bow lift when accelerating onto the plane but due to the proximity of the bow to the helm position, the driver can maintain visibility of the water ahead at all times.

Utilising the trim button is simple and you do notice the spray moving back along the hull as you accelerate and feel the wheel loosening a little, letting you know you have hit sweet spot for your trim setting. Turning in the 175 is a smooth and comfortable affair, even for your guests as the hull of the boat seems to bed in with no input as you commence a turn. Boarders may view this as a downside for watersports, however, you simply apply a little more throttle to keep things entertaining.

Bayliner 175 Flight aft seating

The 175 is capable of a top speed around 65 km/h which is quite exhilarating when you are a couple of feet off the water and will sit on the customary 32km/h required for boarding quite comfortably for extended periods.

The boat produces an ample wake for this and the torque of the engine can lift a reasonably sized individual out of the water quite quickly which is impressive for the 135hp engine we thought may struggle. The wake isn’t world class championship size but will keep most weekend warriors more than happy with the lift it offers.

Bayliner 175 Flight swim platform and ladder

Specs

LOA 5.33m
Beam 2.11m
Deadrise 19 degrees
Weight w/engine 1087kg
Fuel 79.5L