The Cobalt R3’s ride did not surprise me. I pushed the boat through a heavy bay chop during our test day, but the Cobalt R3 performed predictably, with its well-built deep-V hull (featuring 21 degrees of transom deadrise) slicing through the chop with nary a rattle or shudder. What was unexpected? How much interior space the R3 had for a 24-foot boat with a standard 8-foot-6-inch beam. That roominess can be attributed to a build process Cobalt calls Free Space Reclamation (FSR).
FSR works because Cobalt shaves fiberglass off the hull and deck pieces along the gunwales, creating a tighter, much narrower fit. This adds almost an extra foot of beam inside the cockpit. This is most noticeable in that Cobalt adorns the R3 with seating that wraps around the transom and the port side. A double-wide bench sits in front of the port console; its backrest adjusts to allow passengers to face forward or aft: Ski spotters have a seat! There’s also a jump seat behind the plush captain’s chair. All of the seats are covered with high-quality Nautolex vinyl that looks sharp and cleans easily.
The backrest on the transom bench also flips down to create a full sun pad over the engine hatch. Cobalt smartly adds another flip-up cushion to create an aft-facing rumble seat for water-sports prep or just chillaxing and watching the water ripple while at anchor. The extended swim platform features Cobalt’s signature stainless-steel piping for dockside protection. The flip-down fiberglass swim step is another Cobalt calling card, and it makes getting in and out of the water incredibly easy.
This is not to say the bow lounge doesn’t deserve recognition. It has plush forward-facing backrests abutting either console, with recessed stainless-steel grab rails for safety. The backrest cushions lift up on gas-assist struts to reveal cavernous stowage in both consoles — another benefit of FSR. The consoles support a sturdy raked windshield with stainless-steel-topped frame.
As well as it handled the chop, the R3 got to really strut its stuff in smooth water, topping 46 mph at wide-open throttle and executing tight, graceful turns at speed. Of course, that comes as no surprise.
Comparable model: Chris-Craft Launch 22