The most obvious feature that sets this boat apart from the other 150 or so we tested over the past 12 months is what goes on up front. The graceful pointed bow found on most boats is there to give a smooth ride by gently splitting the water. Unfortunately it's also a space robber -- shrinking the cabin as it tapers forward. It's just another one of those compromises in boat design you have to accept. Until now. The 400 Premiere challenges that concept with a new type of bow for cruisers that adds room forward without sacrificing the quality of the ride.
Sponsons have been added on each side of the bow about a foot above the chines. This adds width where the interior needs it most -- between the sole and deck -- giving the 400 Premiere the largest forward cabin of any available cruiser of similar length.
Chaparral calls it a Wide-Tech Bow. Viewed from above, it would be easy to label it a picklefork. Don't. The boat's chine beam is 12'8", which is typical for cruisers this size. From the waterline down, it's a smooth-riding V. The sponsons only protrude from the topsides, well above the waterline, appearing as a three-pronged shape on the foredeck with two false stems. Besides the added room, this shape should also knock down spray and add reserve buoyancy if the bow should dig into a big roller. In all, a clever idea.
The bow isn't the only reason to cheer the 400 Premiere. It has a coupe top with an integral windshield and optional electric skylight ($10,000), providing all-weather comfort on the helm deck. Its cabin decor is unique to the production cruiser market, too. Powered by Volvo Penta IPS, it provides great efficiency, performance, and docking. Plus it's finished, fitted, and equipped like the best cruisers out there.