Here's the situation: you're the owners of a company that built a sailboat picked by Fortune magazine as the best in America. You've sold the company and, because of a non-compete clause, you can't build sailboats, but you've always liked fishing. What do you do?

If you're partners Henry Mohrschladt and Mike Howarth, you decide to build the best sportfishing boat in the world. You look at what's available, bring in top saltwater fishermen as consultants, pull together a skilled crew of builders, and create the Cabo 35, a boat some companies might want to study as a model for how a boat ought to be built.

"We set out to capture a look that said sportfishing," says Mohrschladt and, as a starting point, naval architect Bill Crealock created a modified V- bottom with a 17-1/2-degree deadrise at the transom. With that done, Mohrschladt took a blank sheet of paper to design the rest of the boat. "I decided that the cockpit was the most important part of a sportfishing boat" so, unlike some designers who pencil in the cabin arrangements first, Mohrschladt started with a big, uncluttered cockpit of more than 130 square feet.

But design is just part of a yacht, and the real strength of the Cabo 35 is in the execution and detailing. The cockpit seems crisp and tidy and, on closer inspection, you realize that the moldwork is exceptional. All hatches mate perfectly to their frames, the non-slip is aggressive but not painful to bare feet, and there is an elegance to every edge. It's obvious that this crew has not just built boats before, but very good boats.

Fancy Fishboxes

Take the two fishboxes. They're big and flawlessly molded into the cockpit floor, but that wasn't enough for Cabo. Each has an overboard pump to clear away melted ice, and a grating to protect the pumps from debris. Instead of the flimsy hinges found on many boats, Cabo used full-length piano hinges and even through-bolted them, rather than using screws that might pull out.

A rubber gasket seals the entire lid, held down by two sturdy latches to keep from rattling. To finish up, Cabo hid the drains for the fishbox scuppers under the deck, so there are no ankle-twisting "canals" to mar the wide cockpit.

Construction is high-quality, but not overly exotic, with stitched bi-axal fabrics and vinylester resins used to protect the hull against blistering, and Airex coring vacuum-bagged into place above the waterline. The deck and house use end-grain balsa cores for strength, and this careful attention to weight results in an all-up displacement of just 20,000 lbs. with twin Caterpillar diesels.

Two engine boxes are against the cockpit bulkhead and, on our test boat, they were capped by optional teak tackle boxes that can be covered by upholstered backrests. Each engine box slides out easily on synthetic pads, giving full access to each engine. Our test boat was powered by 375-hp Cat 3208TA diesels, but a wide range of options starts with standard twin Crusader 454 gasoline V-8s and passes through Cummins, Detroits, and Volvos, ending with the 425-hp Cat 3208TAs.

A separate generator flat is reached through a hatch near the transom, and our test boat had an optional 5-K W Northern Lights set that left plenty of servicing room plus access to the steering gear.

Inside Surprise

The engines are too big to be fully contained by the smallish cockpit boxes, but Mohrschladt continued my tour by popping off the settee cushions just inside the cabin. Underneath, separated by heavy sound insulation, was the front of each engine extending under the bulkhead, with the coolant expansion tank and dipstick right where you can check them. Not only does this unique installation reduce the angle of the propshaft and provide superb access to the motors, it also lowers the center of gravity, the benefits of which became evident offshore later.

Going forward on deck, there's plenty of space to chase a fish, and the oversized thigh-high 1-1/4" stainless steel rails provide a non-stop grip all the way from the cockpit to the impeccably welded pulpit with toe loop. There's room forward for a bait tank if you want to bow-cast (a popular method of billfishing in Mexico), and the owner of our test boat was planning to add a Muir all-chain windlass. The anchor roller, by the way, is designed so the stock of the Fortress anchor lies flush with the deck when fully stowed, thoughtfully eliminating another classic toe-stubber.

The flying bridge on our test boat was equally well arranged, with a full set of VDO gauges and Hynautic steering on a wide console. Two Pompanette pedestal seats are behind the console, and a long benchseat is forward, behind a plexiglass venturi and stainless steel grabrail. There is considerable stowage under the benchseat, and two big watertight hatches, hidden behind the seatback, reveal the tidy electrical wiring and provide access to the underside of the dash.

As you can see in our test results, the Cabo 35 is also quiet, with comfortable sound levels both at the bridge and in the cockpit. Wind blast on the bridge is equally low, since Mohrschladt eliminated the "eyebrow" that disturbs the wind on many sportfishermen.

This may be a yacht designed for the serious fisherman, but the Cabo crew knew that we all have wives or girlfriends, so the ladies are guaranteed to love the interior on the Cabo 35. The main salon has an L-shaped settee aft to port opposite an eight-foot U-shaped sofa, each partially concealing the engines, and a teak table converts the sofa to a double berth.

Our test boat had the galley-up interior, so a Corian-topped counter wrapped around to port, with an Origo two-burner cooktop, Quasar microwave oven, Norcold AC/DC refrigerator/freezer, and such niceties as a polished stainless double sink, Grohe faucets, and recessed halogen lighting overhead. All of the cabin windows are screened and fully opening, and the joinerwork of the varnished teak cabinetry is flawless.

The enclosed head is down two steps to starboard, and is bright and airy, with overhead light panels and an all-white finish that will be easy to keep clean. A stall shower is optional (but you'll lose some sofa area in the salon), and a galley-down interior is also available.

The forward stateroom has an island berth with teak dressers and some of the best storage utilization I've ever seen. A huge hanging locker is backed up by three big under-bunk drawers and a locker, while the vanity has five more drawers. There's even a captain's rod locker with enough room for 12 short sticks!

Look Hard

But to really appreciate the Cabo 35, you have to stick your head into those areas where most builders hope you never look, though you don't have to be a marine surveyor to see the quality here. The bilge is fully gelcoated so it's a snap to clean, and each of the three bilge compartments has an automatic pump. Every wire and hose that passes through a bulkhead is grommeted for chafe protection. Each of the exhaust hoses has double T-clamps, which are more expensive but more secure than conventional hose clamps.

Fuel tanks are of fiberglass for longevity, and the manifolds switch both the fuel and return lines between the fore and aft tanks. All the electrical wiring is color-coded, loomed neatly, and easy to trace from the Paneltronics backlit master panel. If you're into woodworking, take a look at the louvered teak locker doors and think about the craftsmanship demanded by such a seemingly minor item.

Okay, so I liked the boat at the deck. But, man-to-man, what's she really like outside where it can be nasty? First of all, this is one quick boat. With the 375-hp Cats, tanks two-thirds full of fuel and water, and three aboard, plus the big Rupp outriggers humming a song of windage, we hit a solid 35.6 knots (41 mph) on the radar gun with the Cats at 2750 rpm. Loping along at 24 knots at 2100 rpm, the V-8 diesels were sipping just 20 gph.

At a dead stop, this is a stable boat, and even low speeds in beam seas didn't produce any of those breakfast-churning lurches. The low center of gravity mentioned before is particularly evident at trolling speeds, and the light displacement of the Cabo allows a holeshot from a dead stop to 35 knots in a very short time.

Best of all, the boat comes up on plane without having the bow climb for the clouds, and although our test boat had Bennett trim tabs, we found that they weren't necessary at any speed. Double chines throw the spray out and away, and even the most critical helmsman will find that this lady has lovely manners.

You want agile? Slam one of the Kobelt single-lever controls hard into reverse, shove the other forward, and hang onto your Pompanette as the Cabo 35 spins under you. Hard backing down brings only a faint trace of ventilation, and you can plant this hull anywhere you want it easily. With 1-3/4" stainless shafts, forged rudders of type-316 stainless steel, and a pair of Federal 22x23 cupped three-bladers, you don't have to worry about the running gear ever giving up on you.

Base price on the Cabo with twin Crusaders is $189,300; our test boat with the Cats and generator, outriggers and swim step, forward windows and full electronics would be about $241,000.

While Mohrschladt and Howarth aren't new to the boat building game, this is a very impressive first offering in the powerboat market. As I said before, you can expect to see other builders checking this newcomer out carefully, and it won't be long before the word is out: the Cabo 35 is one damn fine sportfishing machine.