Concept’s 39 Open blurs the lines between go-fast boats, luxury-laden cruising boats and offshore fishing boats — and it’s surprisingly adept at all three. Standard rod holders in the gunwales along with trolling rod holders and four fish boxes make the 39 Open look like a fishing boat, but a double berth with over 6 feet of headroom in the entry area makes it feel like a pleasure boat.
It’s easy to see how the 39 Open becomes a shifting Venn diagram because each Concept is made to order. Essentially, you take the base boat and apply upgrades or special requests to make it your own and tailor it to whatever your end goal will be. Custom means custom, and buyers regularly ask for special additions that make their final product a truly unique experience. (You want leopard-skin seats? You got ’em.) The majority of the boat’s bells and whistles (think remote-controlled searchlight, digital chart plotter, hardtop, etc.) are options, so buyers can scale the Concept 39 up or down based on the components they will actually use. This scalable pricing is a breath of fresh air for some value-minded customers or those who want more control over the final product.
The 39’s deck plan is uncluttered to the point that some might consider it sparse, but a quick glance beneath hatches reveals the intelligent and inventive ways Concept carved out space. For example, a forward compartment with access to the available bow thruster doubles as a fairly sizable stowage compartment. Gunwales accommodate recessed rod holders and flush-mount compartments that use otherwise wasted space. The removable cooler underneath the center console is on rails for quick and easy access to what can otherwise be a cumbersome piece of equipment. There’s also a wet storage compartment under the helm bench that can be used as a redundant cooler or stowage. The 39’s clean layout also allows for unencumbered movement fore to aft, and the high freeboard and resulting gunwale height make boaters of all ages feel safe and secure.
The Concept 39 Open is a beamy boat with a foot more at the waist than the Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open. This massive beam translates directly into comfort on the water. The berth is roomier, the walkways from fore to aft have enough space to comfortably fit one person without shuffling, and three people can sit at the center console without wedging themselves in. The 39 Open’s helm is so negotiable that it’s hard to review. The base boat has analog gauges and a bare-bones instrument panel, but with hardly a stock Concept sold, you’re typically looking at a loaded instrument panel. Thankfully, the beam comes into play again and nothing feels overly crowded. Everything is custom, so whereas the 39 Open we tested sported a steering wheel mounted on the port side, the Concept 44 Open we tested had a center-mounted steering wheel.
We tested the 39 Open on Biscayne Bay in 3- to 4-foot seas at speeds of almost 70 mph and could see heads turning on other boaters who were not only envious of this new boat’s sleek lines but also its noticeably smooth ride. Bow rise is almost nonexistent, which meant unimpeded visibility, even on our 0 to 30 mph speed-test starts. The stepped hull is blended with a deep-V by Concept’s design team to give the 39 Open a nice balance with nimble performance in flat water and a smooth ride in choppy water. They had no fancy marketing name for this hybrid design, but it produced reliable handling, even in tight turns, as well as consistent speed that didn’t need much monitoring in medium chop. We tested the 44-foot Concept on the same day in similar conditions, and admittedly, the 39-footer is not as smooth as its bigger sister, but it performed smoother than other comparable boats of similar length overall. The bow thruster is an option, but for most captains it’s going to be closer to a necessity in the event a current or stiff wind influences your approach.
The Concept 39 Open was clearly designed with input from techs who have toiled through bad service layouts because everything was easily accessible. Fuel shut-offs for all three motors are a hatch lift away, with everything aft of that accessed by flipping forward the rear seat back. A small bone we would pick is the lack of a second fuel fill point, something commonplace in smaller boat markets.
While it’s difficult to compare Concept’s made-to-order business model to other boats, the Concept 39 we tested compares adequately to the Nor-Tech 390 Sport Open. The Nor-Tech 390 with quadruple 400 hp Mercury Racing 400R outboards tops out at 93.1 mph and costs $585,785. The manufacturer says the Concept 39 will top out at 85 mph with quad 400s, and the base boat will cost $444,000.
– Craig Kotilinek