Chaparral Boats will be the first to offer Malibu Boat’s wake-surf technology on sterndrive boats when it debuts optional surf packages on five of its models Sept. 8 at Surf Expo in Orlando, Fla., in what it is calling its Surf Series.
“We’ve been excited about this for months and we’ve been keeping it under cover,” Chaparral founder Buck Pegg said. “It was hard keeping quiet on this.”
The company is using Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive and has licensed Malibu’s Surf Gate wake-shaping technology to create a bowrider that is versatile to consumers, Chaparral Boats engineering vice president Mike Fafard told Trade Only Today.
“Actually we started the project about five or six years ago with the Sunestas,” Fafard said. “We went into that trying to create a surfable wake behind a sterndrive. We didn’t have all the technology at that time, so we ended up stepping away from it until we put all the pieces to the puzzle together and licensing the Malibu Surf Gate to create a bowrider that is versatile to the consumers. Customers can do everything they would normally do in a bowrider, but now they can also surf.”
The Surf Series will be available for use on five models from 22 to 26 feet — the 227 SSX, the 257 SSX, the 244 Sunesta, the 264 Sunesta and the 246 SSi.
The catalyst for what Chaparral Boats vice president Ann Baldree calls “a game changer” was Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive, Pegg said.
The innovation is what brings new boaters into the recreation, Volvo Penta for the Americas president Ron Huibers told Trade Only Today.
“With innovation leaders like Malibu with their Surf Gate, Chaparral and our other partners, combined with the Forward Drive, we offer a new direction of fun,” Huibers said. “Collaboration and game-changing initiatives like this can inspire the larger population to enjoy the boating lifestyle and grow boating for all of us.”
“Our goal was to produce the finest runabout for wake surfing and water sports,” Pegg said. “We knew after playing with it enough that the best technology was the Surf Gate, which Malibu had. We’d looked at alternatives out there in the market. For one thing, they didn’t produce the kind of wake we wanted. The second question was whether it infringed on patents that Malibu owned.”
“Our approach was to go directly to Malibu and ask them to license it to us,” Pegg said. “At that point we just didn’t take a regular boat and throw the Surf Gates on it. Mike and his team spent time redeveloping the hulls. We’ve been busy changing molds for six months now.”
The redesign was to make sure the integration of Surf Gate did not make the boats cumbersome to trailer, Fafard said. “We also didn’t lose the swim platform because of the way we designed the hull,” he said.
Since it was introduced in 2013, Malibu’s wake-shaping technology has almost a 100 percent adoption rate with well over 3,000 systems being sold per year, said Malibu Boats spokesman Thomas Tedford.
There’s a remote wristband — surfers can switch the wake from side to side by activating the wristband, Pegg said. Another key feature is that it allows Chaparral to place the weight on the centerline “so you don’t have to place ballast on one side,” Fafard said. “It makes it really safe.”
Check out Chaparral’s Facebook video describing the full package.
The company did a soft launch to its dealer network at its dealer conference, Baldree said, where the Surf Series was very well received.
“It is an opportunity many dealers did not have before to attract a new customer who wants the versatility of a sport boat with the added benefit of a superior wake for surfing,” Baldree said of the growing ski and surf segment.
“Based on the reaction of our dealers at our annual dealer conference a couple of weeks ago, our dealers are super-excited. We spent a day on the water with our dealers — and many of them are actually very good surfers — to surf the product. All of the feedback we received was completely positive. It exceeded anything they would have expected.”
The company will be displaying at several fall boat shows, as well as at a media event Sept. 7 leading up to Surf Expo, said Bill Pegg, Buck Pegg’s son and head of human resources, information technology, financing and purchasing.
The lowest-priced model is the 227 SSX. This model will have a starting MSRP of $87,600, including the Surf Package, Volvo Forward Drive and a Folding Arch Tower, Bill Pegg said. The highest-priced model is the 257 SSX, which will have a starting MSRP of $119,998, including the Surf Package, Volvo Forward Drive and a Folding Arch Tower.
The Surf Package will include Surf Gate, New Surf Hull, Ballast System, Surf Badge and Medallion Viper II Display.
“The Surf Package option is $9,223,” said Bill Pegg. “It requires you to select an engine package with the Volvo forward-facing drive, which is about a $3,000 upgrade over the regular DP drive. It also requires that you select a water sports tower. The tower options start at $3,300. All of these prices are MSRP and vary slightly from model to model. So the typical surf package setup would be about $15,500 over the same model without the Surf Package.”
Read more about Chaparral’s new Surf Series in the October issue of Soundings Trade Only.