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Fine-tuning the pontoon

With the Waketoon system, two surfers can ride at the same time.

With the Waketoon system, two surfers can ride at the same time.

At last weekend’s Minneapolis Boat Show, Avalon and Tahoe Manufacturing and Volvo Penta introduced the Waketoon Surf Series pontoon boat.

“It’s going as expected,” Jim Wolf, president of Avalon and Tahoe Manufacturing, told Trade Only Today. “People are taking interest in it.”

The 23-foot pontoon won an Innovation Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Boating Writers International.

While other manufacturers have introduced pontoon-looking boats that actually have a monohull bottom, Avalon is the first to develop a triple-pontoon hull designed for wakesurfing.

“We call it waketooning,” Wolf said. “It took a lot of testing and running back and forth to the lake.”

The last third of the pontoons have been designed specifically for wake surfing.

The last third of the pontoons have been designed specifically for wake surfing.

Volvo Penta and Avalon started talking about pairing the engine company’s Forward Drive and a pontoon boat about 15 months ago. Greg Boyd, a manufacturing engineer at Avalon, and Duane Dinninger, the company’s head of operations, spearheaded the development. Kris Forrest, a customer who had retired from Lockheed-Martin and enjoys wake surfing, contributed to the project, Wolf said.

“We’ve learned a lot about water flow and the dynamics of the way it comes off the pontoons,” Wolf said. “We wanted to stay away from the ballast because it takes up space, and then you have to fill them and drain them.”

Instead of a ballast system, Avalon modified the aft third of the pontoons, adding flat sections and flaring the trailing edge. The Forward Drive is installed in the center pontoon.

“The pontoon segment has been doing well, and it needed something new to the market,” Martin Bjuve, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas, told Trade Only Today. “They’ve done a lot of development, and we are extremely impressed by Jim and his team.”

Martin Bjuve (left) and Tim Wolf

Martin Bjuve (left) and Tim Wolf

One advantage that the Waketoon series has over traditional wakesurfing boats is that two surfers can ride at the same time.

By eliminating the ballast system, the Waketoon can’t transport aquatic invasive species, and it doesn’t produce the large wakes that waterfront homeowners blame for shoreline erosion.

Avalon worked with Tangent Design Group in Chicago on the boat’s interior. “There’s more fiberglass on the interior, with rear-facing seats that are more in-tune with the wake-sports world,” said Wolf.

The Waketoon at the show was priced at just under $100,000, with a tower, speakers and an aft-facing camera. Wolf said Avalon researched the market and believes there is demand for well-equipped boats, so it won’t be sold with a lot of options.

Wolf said combining the benefits of a pontoon with the ability to wakesurf will have cross-generational appeal. “It lets the older generation have the benefits of a pontoon and allows the kids to have some fun,” he said. That sounds like it has the makings of a popular ’toon.” 

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