Forward Drive Wakesurfing Comparison | Boating Magazine

Forward Drive Wakesurfing Comparison

We rate the waves behind five boats with Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive system.

With the advent of Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive propulsion system, the popular sport of wakesurfing can now be practiced safely with sterndrives, which opens up a whole new category of boats to the surf-minded yet landlocked. If you haven’t heard of it, this unique Volvo Penta system consists of a sterndrive with two counter-rotating propellers that face forward versus the aft-facing props on a conventional sterndrive. That means the Forward Drive props are tucked under the hull, so there’s no chance of catching a handful of sharp, whirling blades when you pearl the nose while surfing. The Forward Drive system has taken the wake-sports world by storm, with boat manufacturers jumping on board as fast as their tooling can accommodate. Boating sent me, an avid inboard wakesurfer, out to surf behind five of the leading Forward Drive-powered boats and compare their waves to the pro-level ride created by an inboard wake boat equipped with ballast systems and wake-shaping devices.

Regal 2300 RX Surf
The Regal 2300 RX Surf was the best of the lot in terms of both the wave’s drive and shape. The transfer system, while slow, allows you to go from side to side while surfing. The wave face is perfectly clean, with an ideal shape that could work equally well for skim-style riders looking to do spins as it would for surf-style riders learning airs. The standard 1,500 pounds of ballast could be augmented with a full complement of observers, and the wave would stay clean.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Regal Boats

Other Cool Features
*Wave presets make creating a wave on either side mercifully easy.
*Transfers from side to side are within reach of the average surfer.
*Touchscreen simplifies the entire helm experience.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Regal Boats

Wipeouts
*Touchscreen’s presets aren’t adjustable, so the only latitude in tailoring your wave is by trimming the Forward Drive.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Regal 2300 RX Surf

Regal Boats

Length: 24'0"
Beam: 8'6"
Weight: 4,280 lb.
Price: $93,510
Engine/Gear Ratio: VP V-8 300/2.14:1
Ballast: 1,500 lb.

More Information: regalboats.com

Four Winns TS242
The Four Winns TS242 generates a lot of wave for its relatively small ballast capacity. A slightly splashed face creates a surprising amount of push with just enough vert to keep things interesting without spilling over into a pity wave, which can be difficult for beginners. The right lip at the end of the substantial pocket is just right and catches you when you drift back on tricks, but it won’t completely swallow your ankles.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Four Winns

Other Cool Features
*Rear walk-through provides easy access to your next set.
*Large bow creates a separate social zone.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Four Winns

Wipeouts
*Tabs aren’t intuitively labeled, which makes creating a wave more difficult than it should be. The throttle has an “all-or-nothing” point that can yank surfers out of position on starts.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Four Winns TS242

Four Winns

Length: 24'5"
Beam: 8'6"
Weight: 4,660 lb.
Price: $104,615
Engine/Gear Ratio: VP V-8 350/2.14:1
Ballast: 1,300 lb.

More Information: fourwinns.com

Monterey 238SS Roswell Edition
The wave was smooth and unaffected by prop wash throughout, but you have to like a steep wave to enjoy the Monterey 238 SS. Try airs and lip tricks with a short board, and you’ll have a blast. The pocket was medium-size and had a pronounced lip at the end that could grab your ankles if you drop back too far, but it also let you know exactly where your boundaries were.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Monterey Boats

Other Cool Features
*Butter-smooth throttle gives first-time surfers a perfect pull out of the water.
*Roswell extras complete the whole surf-boat experience.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Monterey Boats

Wipeouts
*Surf tab labels don’t correspond well with creating a surf wave, which can be confusing for the driver.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Monterey 238 SS Roswell Surf Edition

Monterey Boats

Length: 23'0"
Beam: 8'6"
Weight: 3,950 lb.
Price: $83,961
Engine/Gear Ratio: VP 300 5.7/2.14:1
Ballast: 1,810 lb.

More Information: montereyboats.com

Cobalt R5 WSS Surf
While an aesthetically perfect wave, the Cobalt R5 WSS Surf’s wake shape lacked drive and had a sharp falloff at the end of the pocket, which made it more difficult to save tricks. However, the pocket is bigger than one made by some competitive models, and the wave is ultimately clean, with a face that will appeal to almost any type of rider. Adding more weight might put more drive into the wave.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Cobalt Boats

Other Cool Features
*Surf presets make creating a wave intuitive, even for novice surf drivers.
*Aesthetics are second to none.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Cobalt Boats

Wipeouts
*Grab handles and cleats have a tendency to snag the surf rope just about every time you pick up the rider.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Cobalt R5 WSS Surf

Cobalt Boats

Length: 25'8"
Beam: 8'6"
Weight: 4,880 lb.
Price: $132,915
Engine/Gear Ratio: V-8 380/2.32:1
Ballast: 2,100 lb.

More Information: cobaltboats.com

Starcraft SCX 231
The Starcraft SCX 231’s wave might look a little rough, but it delivered in terms of forward push, which is arguably the most important point of any surf wave. Look for a more vertical wave face suited to lip tricks and surf-style riders with shorter boards. The trough is deeper than most boats this length, which means the pocket is only medium-size. The wave’s push can make up for what’s lacking in the pocket and face splash.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Starcraft Marine

Other Cool Features
*Unique seating configuration gives the boat an open feel.
*Swim platform is smooth and won’t snag the surf rope.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Starcraft Marine

Wipeouts
*While the interior design is unique, the boat’s handling is a bit squirrelly.

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Forward Drive Wakesurfing: Starcraft SCX 231

Starcraft Marine

Length: 25'4"
Beam: 8'6"
Weight: 3,300 lb.
Price: $84,600
Engine/Gear Ratio: VP V-8 300/2.32:1
Ballast: 1,050 lb.

More Information: starcraftmarine.com

Wave Theory
Inboard-powered wakesurf boats create waves with more volume and, thus, more power. Water ballast systems allow the boats to take on hundreds of gallons of water, creating a deeper hole behind the boat. The nearly flat bottoms of these boats also result in waves better suited to surfing. Also, these boats are often fitted with an array of trim systems that allow the captain to adjust and refine the shape of the wake. Forward Drive-powered wakesurf boats rely on drive trim and trim tabs to create surfable waves. However, when surfing is over, the deep-V hull, combined with the low drag of a sterndrive drivetrain, allows for fast, smooth transport across choppy waters.

Summary
Inboard watersports boats produce wake waves that let pro surfers shred. These Forward Drive surf boats are well on their way to claiming a piece of the inboard surf pie by creating great waves for recreational wakesurfing. The Forward Drive system touts impressive fuel economy (particularly at cruising speeds) and high top-end speed compared to inboards, but every sterndrive we tested created turbulence that ranged from noticeable to powerful enough to take the board out from under surfers on submerged starts. To avoid this, initially turn the drive away from the surfer when starting out.

Latest


More Stories


Videos