The ski boat market has long been the realm of the small to midsize builder and the boat owner who is fiercely brand loyal. Large, general-purpose builders have never really understood or penetrated this cliquish customer base that obsesses on the smallest details of layout and performance.
Now, the world's largest builder of recreational powerboats wants to sell you a ski boat – provided you are the type of skier who wants to have fun, make some great ski runs and then enjoy a boat that is more than a through-the-buoys workhorse.
The Ski Challenger is a new inboard design that is targeted at the dedicated recreational skier. Forget tournament certifications and professional endorsements; this boat is aimed at the other 90 percent of the skiing market. And, at under $20,000 complete, it's priced to move.
Using the company's advanced naval architecture software, a U.S. Marine design team created a hull that would deliver responsive performance, straight tracking and a smooth, stable ride. All the expected skiing features and amenities were included, and then the designers turned their attention to rounding out the boat's creature comforts and general-purpose boating appeal. The result is a cost-effective inboard design that is equally suited to towing skiers or hosting a family cruise.
Because they build more than 20,000 boats a year, U.S. Marine is able to buy premium materials in bulk and pass both the cost savings and quality enhancement along to the customer. For example, the Ski Challenger is an all-fiberglass product with unitized construction and glassed-in bulkheads. It features a fiberglass cockpit liner, heavy-duty 32-ounce carpet and marine-grade vinyls, and is backed by a five-year structural warranty. In addition, “extras” such as pop-up cleats, tilt steering, cockpit lighting and a four-speaker stereo system are included in the base price.
The Ski Challenger has the ride and room an active family needs to spend a day on the water comfortably. The console storage chamber is supplemented by an in-floor ski locker, a built-in cooler and a rear storage compartment. Passengers sit comfortably on well-formed, full-size seats, and are protected from the elements by the boat's relatively high gunwales and windshield.
To fulfill the boat's water-sports mission, the designers created a competition-style dashboard and driver's seat, and then added rack-and-pinion steering, dual speedometers and Morse controls. Other skiing features include a machined stainless-steel pylon and a fiberglass ski platform that is fitted with a handrail and a retractable boarding ladder.
Our test team put the Ski Challenger through the paces, and declared it a “good combo boat.” It is a boat that wakeboarders will enjoy, they said, as the steep, clean wakes are good for spins and inverted moves. At higher speeds, the wakes flatten for slalom, allowing both beginners and experts to enjoy an afternoon of open-water fun or runs through the slalom course.
For the thousands of buyers who never thought they could afford a “real” inboard ski boat, or who want a boat that can do more than just drive through the buoys, the Ski Challenger just might be the ticket. It delivers a well-rounded blend of skiing ability, quality construction and recreational appeal – all at a very attractive price.
Categories: Site to Ski