Held at Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne, in early December, 2016, the focus of Chaparral’s launch was the high-end American company’s new range of Vortex jetboats and SunCoast outboard-powered bowriders.
In total, journos had six craft to sample, including the single-engined Vortex 203 VR and the 223 VRX twin-engined boat, while the SunCoast range of outboard-powered rigs included the conventional 210 bowrider, plus a versatile Ski and Fish variant. Rounding out the launch fleet were the 230 and 250 SunCoasts.
The new Vortex jets were of particular interest, with power provided by BRP/Sea-Doo-derived Rotax-engined jet units. The 203 was powered by a single Rotax 4-TEC unit, while the 223 boasted a twin-jet set-up.
Based on my previous – albeit limited – experience of US-built jetboats, I was prepared for a rough ride given that they are normally designed for smooth inland waterways. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the new 20-degree deadrise Vortex hulls have been designed with the possibility of rough water in mind – much more user-friendly for the sort of boating we typically do Down Under.
We were also given a demonstration of their wakesurfing ability, with a local wakesurfer managing to catch a few waves just a metre or two off the stern of the 223.
The unique handling characteristics of the jets took a bit of getting used to initially, especially when docking. As there is no rudder or skeg, power has to be maintained throughout the manoeuvre, otherwise there is no directional control. It caught out one or two of the scribes but, after a couple of attempts, the novices were much more comfortable with the jet units and their manoeuvrability. And, once underway, they certainly delivered in terms of performance and handling.
Of the SunCoast range, all, apart from the flagship 250, had Honda power, while the 250 sported a 300 Mercury Verado. As always, the Hondas impressed with their quiet, smooth running and solid mid-range performance, while the Verado had abundant grunt available at all ends of the rev range.
Again, as with the jetboats, the ride on all boats was superb, while there was much to like in terms of the layout and general amenity for a boatload of guests who want to make the absolute most of their time on the water.
One minor irritant was the lack of any stowage for pocket clutter such as phones, wallets and sunnies etc at the helm, while saltwater boaties might find the anchoring arrangements on some craft a little light-on in terms of usability and practicality.
All models feature Chaparral’s customary high-quality presentation, finishes and attention to detail, as well as being eminently suited to all kinds of family fun on the water.
“Chaparral’s point of difference is a commitment to building ‘saltwater-tough’ boats, using better materials and construction techniques than its competitors,” said Chaparral Boats Australia’s Scott O’Hare. “With the big shift around the world from inboard stern drives to ultra-efficient outboard power, and now even to jet power, the versatility of the latest Chaparral designs definitely fits in with what seems to be a renewed connection to coastal boating.
“The new Suncoast and Vortex ranges have been so well received around the world – no more so than in New Zealand, the biggest boating nation, per capita, on Earth. Kiwis are seeing Chaparral for what it is – one of the world’s best sports boats – and are already voting with their wallets.”
Kiwi boaties were represented at the launch by Ian Brown, dealer principal of Wanaka Marine, who says he is keen to spread the Chaparral message.
“The first stock boats have been ordered and are due to arrive before Christmas,” said Brown. “The NZ dollar is strong, enquiry is up and we are looking forward to presenting Chaparrals to our customers. With such a big choice, the biggest problem for many customers will be trying to figure out which model they want!”
For more information, call Chaparral Boats Australia on (03) 9397 6977 or, in NZ, contact Wanaka Marine on (03) 443 9062. Web: ChaparralAustralia.com.au.