Like all Intrepids, the 323 runs on a single-step, deep-V hull. Unlike other stepped-hull boats that target a higher top end, the 323 is designed to provide increased efficiency without requiring special driving techniques. It also provides no-brainer handling and extends cruising range. Its step isn't too large, ensuring plenty of contact between hull and water-and in the right place along the hull. Even aggressive, lock-to-lock turns resulted in smooth, leaning curves. For moderate speeds, say to tour some waterfront houses, you can run the 323 under 20 mph without the bow pointing skyward. These are attributes I haven't found in other stepped-hull boats, most of which are fast but fickle. Who wants to memorize trim positions at various rpm to make a controlled turn?
Ride quality is stellar. Test day's 25-mph winds allowed me to prove it. In addition to the step, which is positioned so that the proper angle of attack is built-in, the convex forward sections of the 323's hull keep the bow from stuffing into waves. At 37 mph, the 323 lifts easily to oncoming swells and then, instead of launching, simply punches off the tops of them. Soft reentry is attained and assured not only by the 21 1/2-degree deadrise angle at the transom, but by the increasingly higher degree of deadrise measured on the forward hull panel.
There's room for six on two lounges, each of which sports stowage within. An L-shaped lounge abuts the front of the side console helm. Its backrest opens, revealing batteries, rigging, and electronics.
At the wheel, push a button and raise the electronics pod. It's huge, big enough for two mega-screen displays. And instead of cheaply ringing a gasket around the cutout from which this console pops, Intrepid applied some nifty mold work to keep out the water:
Weather protection for the 323's accessory switches is ensured because they are mounted on a flip-out panel. A 6"-diameter compass pad is molded on centerline. The leaning post travels electrically through 15" for easy adjustment. It also features drinkholders, rocket launchers, and a waist-high grabrail for companions standing behind you. Like the top, the leaning post's metal work is powder coated to match the deck gel coat. It's a skipper's helm station, through and through.
Terminals are shrink sealed and then coated with liquid vinyl for double protection. You also won't fuss with the optional canvas top. Instead of laces, which need tightening periodically, the top's cover is stretched over its frame and secured with a trim ring. It's tight as a drum; there are no gaps and it looks great.