Clomping down the dock toward my test date with Larson's 238 LXi, I realized I'd had my fill of mighty claims about this new boat's smooth, rough-water ride. So I was devilishly pleased to see the whitecapped bay beyond the marina. I figured if they can build 'em, they can fix 'em. So I ran the boat like a rental -- hammering the throttle and redlining the tach -- and headed directly into the nasty two-foot chop. Result? I was pleasantly surprised.
The 238 LXi's deep-V bottom sports 22 degrees of transom deadrise, full-length running strakes, and reversed chines. The buttocks are straight, meaning there's no hook or rocker. Except for the bow, which is more full than flared, a concession to increasing space for the forward lounge and stowage, the 238 LXi's hullform is similar to that of many inlet-busting fishboats both in design and handling. Although my full throttle, 51.1-mph head sea rampage wasn't comfortable, the boat wasn't out of control or slamming so hard that things were coming apart. At more responsible speeds in the mid-20s, I zoomed along, indifferent to the whitecaps. Turning is crisp, with a positive lean and no slide. The 300 horses delivered by the MerCruiser 350 MAG through a Bravo Three stern drive shoot the 238 LXi onto plane but also provide the torque and blade area to keep it planing at sub-20-mph speeds without losing visibility over the bow.
The transom arrangement is boarder heaven. Dual boarding walkways bracket an island sunpad that provides quick access to the water and a resting area between runs. It's the only boat this size with such a layout. Tow lines, skis, gloves, and other paraphernalia stow in deckboxes in the walkways. These can also serve as coolers, allowing you to grab a drink, regroup, and retry that rad maneuver without leaving the water.
Of course the 238 LXi is more than just a hot ski ride, it's a luxury watercraft. Hatch lids are finished on both sides, the upholstery is scalloped and piped, the helm wraps around to starboard of the skipper. One of many convenient innovations I admired was the bow lounge's canvas tonneau cover, which has a zipper so you can walk forward on centerline and close its perimeter to the gunwales from within the boat.
MSRP: Standard power - $53,400 Test power - $56,000
Contact: 800.452.4834 www.larsonboats.com