It was late on our Boating roundup test day, and I was a bit weary. When I climbed aboard the Chaparral 28, newest in the builder’s surf series, I sank into one of the seats and thought, OMG! These are really comfy!
But that’s just the beginning of my love affair with the 28 Surf, which is a terrific wakesurfing boat that doesn’t give up any of the family amenities—particularly a head—that many buyers expect from runabout boats. And the 28 Surf is big enough that you can take everyone in your neighborhood for a surf session.
The wide swim platform gets you aboard easily, and the solid-fiberglass walk-through gate into the cockpit keeps little ones safely in place. It also allows crew to board the boat without having to step onto the seat upholstery, as is the case aboard many watersports boats. The same parents who appreciate the locking gate will also like the 32-inch height of the gunwales for security and keeping spray out.
Interior and Accessories
Our test boat featured the Black Edition package ($8,045), and wow—it was gorgeous. It starts with a gleaming (and flawlessly molded) black gelcoat hull and adds eye-popping cayenne silicone black-trimmed upholstery (Rolls-Royce, take note) with flow-through foam that dries quickly. The black accents continue in the windshield trim, plus all the smaller bits, like the dash panels and ski mirror. Of particular note, this package includes the black EFX1 tower, which quickly folds electrically for trailering or low bridges. The package also upgrades the JL Audio, with controls at the helm and transom.
What turns this from a delightful family dayboat into a serious wakesurfing contender are several elements. First, a single ballast tank holds 1,080 pounds, which combines with a Surf Gate that can shift the wake from one side to the other, regular to goofy-foot, by touching a button.
Engine choices include both Mercury and Volvo Penta. We had the 380 hp Volvo V-8 with a forward-facing Duoprop drive, which gets the props away from the transom, making surfing safe while still delivering much of a conventional sterndrive’s performance. We topped out at 46 mph running flat at 5,900 rpm. Because you’ll spend most of your time running around 25 mph, more impressive is you get 2.7 mpg. We were off plane at a surfing speed of 10 mph, but still posted nearly 2 mpg.
The skipper gets a bucket seat behind an impressive stitched vinyl dash and steering wheel, with twin Simrad monitors under an eyebrow to prevent reflection. Those Simrad 7-inch touchscreens have the Chaparral exclusively designed Surf System that does, well, everything. Set the boat trim with six profiles (surfer, wake board, ski, etc.), flip the Surf Gate back and forth by touching the screen, and set the speed within two-tenths of a knot. There is a sonar transducer (no running aground) and a dedicated GPS (no getting lost). The monitors also link with all the Volvo Penta controls and displays. There’s even a water-temperature gauge to see if you really want to get in the water.
In the console opposite the helm is an enclosed head with 48 inches of headroom so you can change comfortably (as well as you know what). Our test boat had the available Tecna electric loo ($3,115), a sink, and a pull-out faucet for rinsing down in privacy. A drain is in the floor, plus an opening port to vent steam.
The bow seating is luxurious, with folding armrests converting two seats into stretch-out lounges. Between fore and aft cockpits resides a solid fiberglass wind-block door to keep spray at bay. Hidden behind that door is an Isotherm fridge ($1,325) accessible to all, and big lockers are in the floor, including a 6-plus-footer. All have liners and deep gutters with seals to keep out rain or washdown water.
Underway, the 28 Surf produces smiles. Based on its 287 SSX sportboat hull, you can throw it around and it just banks into turns, asking for more. With the props tucked far underneath, there is no cavitation, so the only limit to how fast you can spin will be Aunt Edna screaming. And if you’re out in afternoon chop, the 22-degree deadrise slices it into pieces and throws it aside.
The aft cockpit features the Vista View lounge, which one-handedly converts from a forward-facing bench to an aft-facing lounge/sun pad. And the transom has the Chaparral Infinity Power Step, which unfolds to provide seating both at water level and when submerged 1 foot, making for easy water access whether you’re picking up surfers or sitting at a sandbar.
The optional JL Audio speakers ($2,650) are everywhere: in the tower, forward, aft, and next to the skipper’s ankles for a massage at full bass.
If you’re shopping, take a look at the Cobalt R8 Surf ($224,167 base suggested retail powered like our test boat). It also boasts a flip-down swim-platform seat.
Quite simply, the Chaparral 28 Surf is a great surfboat, a great sportboat and a great family boat.
- Infinity Power Step—wow!
- All lockers are fully lined, and lifting hatches have struts to prevent pinched fingers.
- All the normal service points are at the front of the engine to make fluid checks an easy task.
- Companion glove box is not quite watertight—don’t toss your cellphone in without looking.
- Sharpish corners on folding windshield.
- Phone holder at the helm is too small for some phones.
How We Tested
- Engine: Volvo Penta V-8 2.0 EVC 2.32 DP FFD 380 hp Catalyst
- Drive/Props: Forward Drive/K4 Duoprop stainless-steel propset
- Gear Ratio: 2.32:1 Fuel Load: 50 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 450 lb.
Pricing and Specs
|5,900 lb. (approx.)
|6’0″ (tower down)
|Max Cabin Headroom:
|Single Mercury Bravo 4 or Volvo Penta Forward Drive strendrive to 430 hp
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Chaparral Boats – Nashville, Georgia; chaparralboats.com