Tiara 29 Cruiser review

Tiara 29 Review 

 Issue: September 2005

Sometimes it’s hard to find words to describe a vessels character, but not the Tiara 29. Sturdy, certain, enduring and bloody well built all seem to fit.

We tested the Tiara 32 a few issues ago and it was the same case with that vessel, so to readers of the earlier article you may get a sense of de je vou. But there’s one striking difference between the Diesel 32 and 29, this rig was powered by twin Crusader V8 petrol engines, which deliver plenty of faithful grunt.

Tiaras are new to Australia. The US/ Michigan-based boat builder has been around since the 1950s when founder, Leon Slikkers, left the joinery department of the classic boat builder Chris-Craft to set up his own yard. His boats were called Slickcraft and he was on the cutting edge of fibreglass boat construction. By 1963, all Slickcraft boats were built out of fibreglass. Today’s Tiara hulls have Vinylester laminates coated with epoxy, which are covered by a five-year warranty. After a series of corporate shuffles the Slikkers family are still building boats including the Tiara, S2 Yachts and Pursuit Motorboats (out of Florida). The Tiara range includes 12 boats starting with this 29 footer, so if this boat converts you to the Tiara way, you can work your way up to the 52-footer.

Mike Gaffikin, the Australian Tiara Distributor, has quite a history of selling this type of vessel and was immediately taken by the Tiaras high build quality. When they build a Tiara all the parts are the best they can find and to some extent they overbuild their vessels, so they are going to last, says Gaffikin. And this is why all of our owners are so passionate about their Tiara’s!?

Crusader Power

We took the Tiara 29 out around Lion Island near Sydney where conditions were slight. The Twin 6lt 330hp freshwater cooled Chevy-based Crusader engines purred at all levels and the V8’s soft rumble provided the reassurance that the engines had the power to get the sure-footed vessel out of trouble, if required.

The weight of the boat, combined with modest V down the line, produced a craft that carved through the chop delivering a soft ride at sea, while her wide 3.45m beam made trimming the hull quite easy.

This 29 footer produced a top speed of 29.5 knots, but getting there was the most fun. The electronic throttle accentuated the hulls quick response to a boost in power, confirming that these V8 were well matched to the Tiara’s overall weight. Up and running we found an efficient cruise speed around 3700rpm of 22.5 knots and a fast cruise around 4300rpm of 27 knots.


The Tiara 29 has a good balance between deck and saloon space. By being the smallest vessel in a range there is always the temptation to steal from the deck space to make room down below, but this is essentially a day/overnighter so the most important areas are up top.

The resulting layout is a hardtop covered wheelhouse area with a raised L-shape lounge across from the twin-seated helm. Behind this is a step-down cockpit serviced by an aft facing lounge, wide combings and a lift up lounge along the transom. There is a wide, solid and well hung inward opening transom door with overbuilt stainless steel latches and hinges that typify the excellent overall build quality of the Tiara.

The walkways forward are generous and the flared bow rail extends aft to provide plenty of grab holds when moving about the vessel. At the bow, the well-built theme continues with solid stainless steel cleats, a windlass and a stainless steel lined pulpit for the anchor. The tidy helm is equipped with a range of instruments covering oil pressure, fuel, temp, volts, tacho and a compass. There are switches for the windlass and lighting and a Navman VHF Radio. The big boat dual controls for throttle and gears take a little getting used to but it reduces the chance of ending up in the wrong gear at the wrong time. Helm seating is comfortable, spacious and provides good visibility and the whole console lift s up to provide rear access to the electrics.

Below Decks

The layout has the portside shower/head located aft of the stairs, leaving the rest of the saloon open for the galley, forward berth and a Starboard Ultra Leather settee. Although there is not a lot of space down below, the Tiara manages to fit a lot in and does so with class.

The galley has ample bench space and features a small cook top, fridge and microwave. Other features include the shore powered air-conditioning and a Clarion sound system. Natural light comes from portholes and deck hatches and night lighting is mostly halogen. There is no doubt that the conservative teak marine finishes below will endure the test of time.

Engine Room

The Tiara 29 was powered by twin 6lt 330hp, freshwater cooled/heat exchanger Crusader engines. I must admit that it was quite a change seeing blue as opposed to black down below, particularly for an American petrol-powered boat. These Chevy based engines are new to Australia but in America they provide good competition for MerCruiser. The 6lt EFI Crusader delivers similar power to the MerCruiser 6.2lt EFI engine.

Mike Gaffikin Marine is the importer and he believes that with a Chevy heart and a fast international parts delivery services, the Crusader engine will not be an orphan. He also explains that the 6lt EFI Crusader delivers similar power to the MerCruiser 6.2lt EFI engine. Access to the engine room involves moving one cushion and then flicking a switch that lift s the floor, revealing an engine room fitted out to a high standard. All hoses are double clamped and access around the engines is good. The freshwater cooling will ensure a longer engine life and the double rear mounts help control engine vibrations. This, combined with good engine room insulation, produces a quiet ride at speed. The engines drive through Aqamet shaft s and spin Neebral bronze propellers. Overall, this well built $265,000 American vessel is at the top of its class. The petrol engines may not be as efficient as a couple of diesels but they certainly deliver the power that makes this craft an absolute joy to drive.

Tiara Yachts

Tiara Yachts, a division of S2 Yachts, has a rich boat-building heritage, which extends for more than four decades. Tiara takes great pride in providing its customers with yachts of sublime quality for years of enjoyment, while maintaining a high resale value. Its headquarters are in Holland, Michigan. Tiara Yachts also maintains a second manufacturing location in Swansboro, North Carolina, to facilitate production of the 5200 Express, 5000 Open, and 4400 Express. The product line includes Open and Express models with inboard power from 29-52 feet. S2 Yachts also produce Pursuit boats from 22 foot-38 foot in inboard, outboard and sterndrive configurations.

Engine Room

The Tiara 29 was powered by twin 6lt 330hp, freshwater cooled/heat exchanger Crusader engines. The 6lt EFI Crusader delivers similar power to the MerCruiser 6.2lt EFI engine.


In calm conditions with two adults onboard the Tiara 29 produced the following speed-to-rpm figures.

Speed to RPM: 4 knots @ 800 rpm, 7.5 knots @ 1600 rpm, 22.5 knots @ 3700 rpm, 24 knots @ 4000 rpm, 27.5 knots @ 4400 rpm, 29.5 knots @ 4750 rpm. 


LOA: 9.37m
BEAM: 3.45m
DRAFT: 0.8m
DRY WEIGHT: 5048kg
FUEL: 758lt
DEADRISE: 19 degrees
PRICE: $265,000

+ Beautifully finished
Ride & handling
– Space below deck

Words and Photos by Andrew Richardson