Chaparral H20 19 Ski & Fish | Boating Magazine

Chaparral H20 19 Ski & Fish

Chaparral's newest bowrider proves you can pack a lot of performance and features into a small package.

Need proof that the trend in boats suited for a variety of waterborne fun extends to trailerable runabouts? Sea-trial Chaparral’s H20 19 Ski & Fish. Available in two configurations, I deem the Ski & Fish version most versatile, providing robust construction, a cherry-picked list of standards and grin-inducing performance. Leading on another trend, the H20 19 is offered at a nationally advertised price.

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The H20 19’s nationally advertised package includes a boat, motor and trailer, as does the “no haggle pricing” on Tahoe’s Q5 SF ($24,995 with a 190 hp MerCruiser). This makes the buying process less stressful for novices, since new boaters may lack the experience to be comfortable in the traditional negotiating-from-MSRP scenario. Buy the boat at the set price and you can be confident in your resale and trade-in value, in that you know you didn’t pay more than the next guy. But the savvier salts among you are probably wondering: Does $24,385 buy me the boat I want?

That price includes a 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0-liter MPI Alpha sterndrive that delivers a horsepower-to-weight ratio of 16:1. The nice thing about a ratio is that it allows you to compare boats of different types. So if you are inclined, I encourage you to review boat tests on boatingmag.com to find a host of boats, of all sizes and types, with a 16:1 hp/weight ratio. The short story is that this engine provides enough power to enjoy family tubing and skiing, and can hustle you home should storm clouds gather. And since it’s an MPI model, it delivers easy starts, combustion control and other engine monitoring and diagnostic features.

The price also includes a single-axle trailer with 14-inch rims, a swinging tongue for easy storage, long-lasting LED lights and a jack stand.

As for the boat itself, the H20 19’s cockpit is lit by LED courtesy lights. High-quality vinyl upholstery covers the twin swiveling helm chairs, bow lounge, transom bench and aft sun pad. The windshield is a stylish wraparound job with stainless-steel supports. A two-speaker, AM/FM stereo with USB and MP3 connectivity provides the tunes, and you can power a phone or spotlight with the standard 12-volt receptacle. Stowage is plentiful, including the ski locker in the sole. Anglers will appreciate the 70-quart livewell, rod storage, 55-pound-thrust trolling motor and removable fishing seats. You can choose from four wide-band gelcoat hull colors. In short, everything you need to get to the water and enjoy a variety of pastimes is included. The next question, then, is what might you want?

First off, I’d suggest adding the Bimini top with boot ($625) for family days and a respite from the sun when required. The Garmin Echo 150 fish finder ($175) makes perfect sense for anglers for obvious reasons, plus you’d be hard-pressed to find that machine, or a comparable finder, for an installed price less than $200. Coastal boaters, or those doing long tows to the water, will benefit from exchanging the standard trailer for the aluminum model with brakes ($1,200), since it’s lighter and more corrosion-resistant than the powder-coated standard trailer. I’d personally opt for the convenience package ($290), which includes a compass, which I consider essential, and a tilt wheel, because I like to stand while docking or loading on a trailer and a tilt wheel makes that easier.

The balance of the options comes down to wants rather than needs. These range from a wood-grain gauge panel and snap-in carpet to the all-out water-sports excitement of the Matrix package, the highlight of which is a folding arch tow tower. Let’s look closer at some of the details that impressed me during my test.

The 190 hp MerCruiser 4.3 TKS Alpha powering my test boat provided stellar performance, as the accompanying chart shows. There’s power to spare, and certainly, if you plan on carrying a crew of six or more on a regular basis, I’d recommend it. Move up to the 220 hp 4.3 MPI package and you might net a bit better performance, though you’ll find the bigger difference is all the attendant computer-control benefits referenced above. Bear in mind that Chaparral’s extended V-plane hull design does allow for quicker planing than many hulls do, in addition to providing excellent stability in turns.

Details impressed me as much as the ride. For instance, the removable fishing seats are incorporated into the aft bench. That means that when they aren’t in use, they don’t take up any stowage space. The livewell is also integrated into the aft bench. It’s these two features, plus the standard trolling motor, that set the Ski & Fish apart from its sister ship, the H20 19 Sport ($23,385). Wiring is neat and robust, and the use of heavy-duty bus bars and circuit breakers, as opposed to fuses, is smart. Batteries are secured by a bracket, not a strap, a detail I wish more builders would incorporate.

I could go on, but suffice it to say I was hard-pressed to find any cut corners aboard the H20 19. It’s equipped right, rigged right and priced right.

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