Elegant. Highly-functional. Cheap. Basic. At our annual Shootout Boat test over the years we've used a few of these adjectives to describe the helm consoles. Some were basic for a reason-to keep it under a certain price point. Yet we're always amazed by those high-end helm stations that truly impress us.
At the 2011 Shootout we were able to get our hands on some of the bestlooking and most-functional consoles we've ever tested before, which goes to show how manufacturers are able to keep building and improving over the years. But all this progression got us thinking, just how far have these helm stations come in the past 10 years?
In an attempt to dig into this question, we had to go back to the file cabinet. Yes, the file cabinet where in a back office we still have access to all the slides that were taken so many years ago. Some time between the 2002 Shootout and the 2011 version, we officially switched over to digital photography. So while some old Shootout photos are easier to find than others, to go really far back we had to actually leave our desk to do the searching. It's almost hard to believe that just 10 years ago we were using slide film 100 percent of the time.
Besides old staff photos that showed younger and better-looking versions of ourselves, we also found some odd looking helm consoles. While the functional qualities remained consistent over the years, we quickly discovered that it's the added gadgets and amenities that make the helms what they are today.
For fun we went back into the archives for the purpose of seeing progression, not to pick on any engineers. As far as rating the best and the worst, we'll leave that up to you to decide.