Five Under Five (5,000 lbs., that is!)
By Michael Vatalaro
Published: Winter 2013
Here are five new models that can be towed by most midsized SUVs
Chaparral H20 19 Sport
Chaparral’s H20 lineup of boats was launched not quite 18 months ago to offer new boaters a way into boating that wasn’t so hard on the wallet. Powered by Mercruiser IOs from 135 hp to 220 hp, packages start at under $24,000 including trailer. Which is remarkable given that these aren’t stripped-down versions of a family runabout. They offer fun features for keeping your family happy out on the water, including an iPod/mp3 adapter tucked away in the glove box on the portside console, as well as a built-in insulated cooler under the center stern seat. Plus a locker wide enough for wakeboards under the floor in the centerline, and a full width sun pad over the engine compartment, part of which lifts for walkthrough access to the swim platform. www.ChaparralBoats.com
LOA: 1'’ 4" Beam: 7' 6" Draft: 31" Weight: 2,540 lbs. Fuel: 30 gal.
Robalo introduced the smallest dual-console model in their lineup this year, and we had a chance to get aboard during the Annapolis Powerboat Show. I like the fold-down seats at the stern, with a strong nonskid backing, that allow easy passage over the transom to the integrated swim platforms on either side of the outboard. Given that this style boat needs to offer something for everyone in your family, Robalo concentrated on making it versatile. To that end, they included plenty of storage spaces in the bow, as well as a head in the port console, and options like a powder-coated ski tow frame that will enhance watersports. And with a dry weight of 3,400 pounds, it should squeak in around our goal of a 5,000- pound package weight. www.Robalo.com
LOA: 20’ 7” Beam: 8’ 4” Draft (motor up):14” Weight: 3,400 lbs. Fuel: 60 gal.
Grady-White Fisherman 209
The second generation of Grady-White’s 20-foot center console was redesigned recently after an 18-year run. The new version packs all the features you’d look for in a larger center console into a small LOA, including a head in the console, large fish boxes for your catch, and plenty of dash space to mount big displays. Nice engineering touches include mounting the compass in the dash to free up space on top of the console for items you’d like to keep handy but out of the way, and removable seats at the stern that provide access to batteries and bilge pumps. Fishermen who have to make long runs to the fish will appreciate the 82-gallon gas tank, which will give a range of nearly 300 miles at cruise using the standard power package, a 150-hp Yamaha. www.GradyWhite.com
LOA: 20’ 4” Beam: 8’ 1” Draft (motor up): 15” Weight (no engine): 2,600 lbs. Fuel: 82 gal.
Malibu 20 VTX
New for 2013 is the smallest crossover in Malibu’s lineup, a jack-of-all-trades that you can ski, wakeboard, or surf behind, thanks to 1,250 pounds of water ballast, a power-wedge, and what they’re calling a “surf gate.” Malibu’s patent-pending innovation looks like a large, sideways-mounted trim tab. It works much the same way, raising a large surfable wake to that side of the boat at the push of a button by displacing the water that flows past the hull. Wakeboarding legend Dallas Friday called it “the eighth wonder of the world,” which we assume means she’s pretty stoked about it. Choose from five power options from Indmar from 330 hp to 555 hp, add up to 10 of your friends, and go tear it up. www.malibuboats.com.
LOA: 20’ Beam: 8’ 2” Draft: 22” Weight: 3,500 lbs. Fuel: 38 gal.
Scout 225 Abaco
Scout added the 225 Abaco to their lineup a few years back, but it’s worth mentioning in this space because Scout designs boats that are lighter than average for their size, using foam coring rather than wood for fuel efficiency. These weight savings mean you can get a larger boat (with a bigger cuddy cabin) but still be able to tow it with your midsize SUV. Compare the Scout’s 2,900-pound weight (with a 150 hp Yamaha) with the Regal 2250, identical in length and beam, which tips the scales a full 1,000 pounds heavier at 3,900 pounds. To stay below our 5,000-pound towing package limit with most builders, you’d be looking at 19-foot cabin boats. With the Scout, you get a 6’ 2” V-berth and seating for eight. www.ScoutBoats.com
LOA: 22’ 2” Beam: 8’ 6” Draft: 14” Weight (no engine): 2,400 lbs. Fuel: 90 gal.