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Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt's 26SD WSS is a luxury sterndrive that's water-sports-ready.

May 13, 2013
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Cobalt 26SD WSS

LOA: 26’2″
Beam: 8’6″
Draft: 2’3″ (drive up)
Displacement (approx.): 5,500 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees
Bridge Clearance: 4’11” (without Bimini)
Fuel Capacity: 50 gal.
Max Horsepower: 430
Available Power: MerCruiser and Volvo Penta sterndrives

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt 26SD WSS

Cobalt runs in a small, nimble pack of premium boatbuilders. You know who the others are. Now there’s a new wolf in the pack that bridges Cobalt’s proven luxury performance to the crowd-pleasing spaciousness of a deck boat. Cobalt’s 26SD WSS (Sport Deck Water Sports Series) sacrifices not a smidgen of sound performance or a square inch of opulent luxury to bring boaters a distinctive ride that is water-sports-ready.

The profile retains Cobalt’s signature lines, and it’s not until you step up and board the 26SD WSS that you see how the company has widened the bow into a stealth-angled wedge that adds bow seating while blending sleek, proud chines from the stem to the stern. The boat is as stable as can be at rest, so a big crew can feel free to move about the cockpit. On the fly, its sharp 21-degree transom deadrise cleaves wakes and hooks up solidly in turns.

Months after my test drive, the feeling of the upholstered helm in my left hand and the throttle comfortably in my right hand is as crisp a memory as the clear mountain air of Coeur d’Alene Lake, where I tested it. Top speed was modest at 52 mph but the altitude had its impact, and a Midwest lake or coastal waterway might see another two miles per hour whether powered by the Volvo Penta or MerCruiser system.

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No, Formula doesn’t make deck boats, but that’s where you’d have to go to find a luxury day boat as well steeped in performance DNA. Formula’s 270 BR ($110,700 with test power, tower and color gelcoat) stretches nine inches longer but remains comparable in seating and luxury. That’s thanks to the broad bow area, and the 270 BR’s aft rumble seat — the closest competitor to Cobalt’s. Chaparral‘s 264 Xtreme ($117,703 with test power, tower and colored hull) is another beauty, a true deck boat with sporty luxury. Its rumble seat is similar to Cobalt’s but slightly narrower, accommodating a wide walk-through transom as a result.

The 26SD WSS also boasts a walk-through. Both the Chaparral and the Cobalt sport the coolest wakeboard arch, of cast powder-coated aluminum and color-matched to your choice of hull colors. Cobalt’s tower folds down for compact storage at the push of a button. This feature is handy for those who keep their boats in a garage, and it’s great for trailering as well.

The Cobalt shines brighter at the helm and passenger console than many boats do. There, custom factory-molded pods for instruments, helm and glove box are carefully upholstered with tough vinyl that is so like leather you’ll have to sniff it to know it’s not. That vinyl, matched with careful double stitching along the brow that shields the instruments and the helm, is sculpted into a thing of elegance. Even the foot plate below the helm, angled perfectly for comfortable piloting, boasts a beautiful stainless-steel and rubber surface, increasing traction in those hairpin turns while adding pizazz to the helm station.

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For that reason, Cobalt also adds sweet little touches nobody else seems to — like the transom platform. At first glance, you might think the company forgot to install a boarding ladder. At second glance, you see a broad step that folds out and swivels down about 12 to 14 inches, offering an easy re-entry point. Even more, this fixture serves as a wonderful place to sit and lounge in the water while anchored at your favorite cove or sandbar. It also functions to shield swimmers’ shins and toes from the prop blades.

Inside the cockpit, seating wraps around from the passenger console to the extra-wide captain’s chair. A lounge seat behind the captain can be converted to an entertainment galley, if you wish.

At the bow, seats are wide and boast removable cushions to port and starboard that create two forward-facing armchairs and an aft-facing love seat. Replace those cushions for full lounge capabilities. Armrests fold away to streamline passage from bow to cockpit and back. Yes, there’s a full anchor locker and a stainless-steel boarding ladder there as well.

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A boat of fiberglass offers all the romance to boaters, but in the factory there’s little of the traditional fun of hand‑shaping mahogany and inhaling the aroma of fresh-cut wood. Yet in Cobalt’s factory, from layup to upholstery to engine installation, the craftsmen work with commitment and enthusiasm. Cobalt’s pride in construction comes from respecting the contributions of its team. That’s what helps keep its work force stable and its products consistently good from model to model.

You might think I’m overstating the opulence of the 26SD WSS, and maybe I’m more enthusiastic than a Boating tech-team tester should be, but the boat’s fine points are built with the idea that the customer is of refined taste and prepared to shell out more cash per foot for this boat than they would for most competitors of similar size. And I’ve never met a Cobalt owner who said it wasn’t worth it.

Comparable models: Formula 270 BR, Chaparral 264 Xtreme

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