Chaparral 226 SSi Wide Tech

Come as you are.

I began to like the Chapparal 226 SSi Wide Tech while unhitching the spring line securing it to the dock. The line was belayed to a four-bolt cleat, which is not only more secure than two-bolt models, but it also spreads everyday loads more evenly. The stress cracks that appear around the hardware on many other boats are less likely to happen on this one. I can go on about this boat's function -- and will -- but first let's talk design.

The 226 SSi Wide Tech is one of six new Chaparral models that feature increased interior space and faceted styling. Chaparral placed subtle convex sponsons into the topsides forward, which widen the beam between the cockpit sole and gunwale, increasing bow cockpit space. But don't mistake this boat's hull design for a pickle fork. Below the waterline the 226 SSi Wide Tech is a deep-V, not a trihull. It features a roughly 3:1 length-to-beam ratio between the chines, delivering great efficiency and ride. The two prongs bracketing the anchor locker increase foot space when boarding across the bow. To see how much room this design creates, erect the bow table and enlist your salesman's coworkers to lounge around it. Impressive.

That pronged bow also anchors the 226 SSi Wide Tech's style. The swim platform, the high-cornered windshield, the seatbacks, and the engine vents echo the form. This angular design even reverberates in the pipework of the wakeboard tower ($3,514).

As pleasing to the eye as it is, the 226 SSi Wide Tech packs plenty of function. Guests can face forward or aft, or they can recline on the convertible aft lounge. This entire assembly lifts to reveal the engine -- when it's closed, you'd never know it hides the engine box. Inside, I found excellent access to float switches, pumps, and plumbing. Lift the through-bolted hatch in the platform, remove the cooler and supporting tub, and you have two-handed access to batteries. Dedicated stowage for tables and fillers and the serviceability of helm wiring are other advantages.

MerCruiser's 300-hp 350 MAG MPI Bravo Three stern drive zoomed my tester to 51.1 mph. If you question whether Wide Tech means break neck, consider that I cut 50-mph, boat-length hairpin turns, launched off wakes, and generally tried to beat myself up. The 226 SSi Wide Tech took better care of me than I took of it.

MSRP: Standard power - $44,860 Test power - $49,724 ** **

Contact: 229.686.7481 www.chaparralboats.com