For a gallery of the 226 XL R in action click here.
Boat model lexicon is often alphabet soup, but the double suffix appended to the Captiva 226 I tested is nothing to stew over. XL stands for extra long cockpit, which is easily seen by swiveling ’round in the plush helm chair, or felt by loading the boat with crew and gear. It’s a “cab forward” design, wherein more of the overall length is apportioned aft of the windshield, increasing space for socializing and providing more comfortable group seating by virtue of the U-lounge made possible by the extra length. So, the bow lounge is cramped, right? Nope. Rinker molded this new boat with a fuller, wider bow. The result is great legroom when seated and more space than that in many competing models.
The R is a special, limited-edition designator, effectively crowning the Captiva 226 XL bling king. Equipped with the R package ($8,710), my tester sported race-worthy graphics, a sound system so kicking that even the grungiest ’boarder would feel the thumping at the end of a tow rope, and a tower with lights, board racks and “the look” of a tournament tow boat. Does the Captiva 226 XL R live up to its looks as well as it does its badge?
Hit it. I tore the lake into a gazillion sparkling pieces with this boat. Hard-over turns at wide-open throttle, throttle chops, hairpins, you name it, and the Captiva 226 XL R delivered all the hoots — and I’m pretty good at wringing out a boat to uncover handling flaws. It jumps on plane, never exceeding four degrees of inclination. It tracks true, with clean rocker gracing its wake at a board-friendly (and little-kid-tube-safe) 14 to 18 mph. Just make sure you turn your cap around before flooring it: The 320 hp Merrier 377 Mag Bravo three propelled us to 54 mph. Yee-haw! You can wait for the slowpokes with a cold one, reclining on the platform rumble seat, your gear stowed in one of multiple capacious compartments throughout the boat.
Comparable model: Chaparral 226 Wide Tech