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Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt's R5WSS blends dockside appeal with sharp handling.

August 8, 2014
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Cobalt R5WSS

LOA: 25’8″
Beam: 8’6″
Dry Weight: 4,880 lb.
Seating/Weight Capacity: 14/2,250 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 50 gal.
More Information: cobaltboats.com

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

Cobalt R5WSS

In this version of Cobalt’s R5 runabout, the WSS stands for Water Sports Series. The company gave it this designation because it tricked out the boat with a forward-raked aluminum tow arch that integrates seamlessly with the fiberglass gunwale topsides, enhancing an already sleek and sporty profile. It turns the well-built family runabout into a versatile family tow-sports platform.

When explaining this boat, that aluminum tower is a great place to start. In testing its sturdiness, I hung from the top and did two or three chin-ups and felt not a single flex or wobble. Watching it hold steady with nary a shudder while running over chop at wide-open throttle confirmed its construction. It helps that beefy stainless-steel pipes bolster the arch to either side. That piping allows Cobalt to add a pair of Samson swiveling board racks — high-quality components that swivel in and out of place with grace. But perhaps the most important thing about the arch, or tow tower, is that it places the tow rope at a higher vantage point, allowing boarders more leverage for tricks and aerial displays. It also moves the towing pivot point forward in the boat, negating the pull that occurs on stern-mounted ropes when skiers and boarders make sharp cuts outside the wake.

One thing I can attest to from my years of testing Cobalt is that the builder has never been guilty of producing a boat that makes you say, “Meh.” There’s always at least one thing about its boats that makes you appreciate its craftsmanship. In the case of the R5WSS there’s the tower, plus a lot more.

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The vibrant WSS graphics package gives the boat tremendous dockside appeal — our tester featured a red and black combination with racy silver graphics. Cobalt molds them into the gelcoat, a superior technique to adding on vinyl graphics after the fact. The R5WSS earns more style points for its interior, with a champagne vinyl that has colored accents to match the exterior graphics. The dash sports a hand-stitched brow with a new graphite inset that enhances its stylish look and blends nicely with the Garmin GPSMap 740. It’s a minor detail, but I love how the Cobalt insignia inset into the leather steering wheel always rotates so that it presents upright.

I also love how roomy the cockpit feels for a boat with a standard 8-foot-6-inch beam. Cobalt employs a technique it calls “free space reclamation” into the build process, wherein it shaves fiberglass from the hull and deck molds where they meet at the gunwales. The result is an extra foot of interior width. Load the boat with a crew of boarders and that won’t go unnoticed. Nor will the spacious head that occupies the portside console, featuring a faux granite countertop and pump-out toilet.

Boarders will like how our tester’s 380 hp MerCruiser 8.2-liter MAG engine, paired with a Bravo Three sterndrive, pushed it onto plane in just over four seconds, and to a top speed over 52 mph. Sterndrives also have torque in reserve, providing great midrange acceleration, and the dual propellers give the boat extra bite in turns.

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For pro-level boarders, the wake thrown by the R5WSS can’t compete with a sport-specific boat like the MasterCraft X30 ($97,400 with a 6.0-liter Ilmor V-drive) that includes a ballast system. And, with the R5WSS’s drive and props underneath the swim platform rather than at midships, you absolutely should not wakesurf behind this boat. But for recreational skiing, tubing and wakeboarding, you can control the size of the wake by working with the trim, an attribute that gives the Cobalt a big edge in pleasure cruising and running through a chop.

You can also find other builders who offer the option to outfit their bowriders with arches, such as the Formula 240 Bowrider ($111,680 with a 380 hp MerCruiser 8.2-liter MAG). A tricked-out Sampson Sports Razor wake tower adds $8,675 to the bottom line. For onboard entertainment, the R5WSS has a killer Rockford Fosgate stereo system, with tweeters inset into the dash just underneath the windshield to enhance the sound. The tunes carry forward into the bow lounge. The forward-facing recliners both have beefy flip-down armrests, and recessed stainless-steel grab rails adorn either side. To starboard, a filler cushion flips out from under the seat to create a full wraparound lounge.

The aft end of the boat is set up to serve both the sporting set and sun worshippers. The sun pad over the swim platform features an adjustable backrest that converts it to a rumble seat. It’s a great place for boarders to gear up before a session or to watch the water while at anchor. Use the transom walk-through on the starboard side to access the extended swim platform. The platform features Cobalt’s signature flip-down swim step, a molded fiberglass part that flips down into the water via a stainless-steel mechanism. It’s simple to deploy and store, and it makes for easy reboarding from the water after a swim.

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All these features add up to a boat that’s fit for duty on multiple fronts, not the least of which is towing an army of tubers, skiers and wakeboarders.

Comparable Models: MasterCraft X30, Formula 240 Bowrider

Cobalt R5WSS
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