Forward Thinking Boat Builders

Comments from boatbuilders employing Volvo Penta Forward Drive

Here are some quotes and commentary granting insight into the how and why certain boat builders have elected to offer Volvo Penta Forward Drive as propulsion in some model boats.


In January, 2014, Bryant was one of the first Volvo Penta boat-builder partner to see the Forward Drive. Bryant was already developing a package of accessories to make it possible to wake surf behind a sterndrive-powered boat, and it’s led by former MasterCraft president John Dorton and his son, Ben, a collegiate board-sports champion – two guys who really feel the board sports vibe.

Bryant Boats using Volvo Penta Forward Drive
Bryant Boats Using Volvo Penta Forward Drive

“I immediately saw the Forward Drive as a way to ignite a rebound in sales in the sterndrive boat segment,” said Bryant brand manager Ben Dorton. “I think I made five trips back to the Volvo test facility last year. Bryant and Volvo were attached at the hip throughout this project.

“The Forward Drive performs like your old stern drive, but really limits the chance for a prop strike, whether your are surfing behind the boat or just swimming. You never have the sensation that those props are aimed at your chin, and I think it offers an enhanced perception of safety that that will be appealing to many consumers.”

“We are bringing our Bryant 233X with the Forward Drive to the Miami boat show demo,” said Dorton, “That’s an existing model, but we are about a year into development of an all-new hull, a blank canvas design that will utilize the best characteristics of the Forward Drive in a boat with enhanced surfability that will also be a great all-around family boat. We expect to have that new boat ready to show the public in September.”

Four Winns

An early participant in Forward Drive development, Rec Boat Holdings was presented with the concept at the 2014 Miami boat show, and tested an early prototype with Volvo Penta in May.

Four Winns Tow Series  TS 222 with Volvo Penta Forward Drive

Four Winns Tow Series TS 222 with Volvo Penta Forward Drive

Four Winns Tow Series TS 222 with Volvo Penta Forward Drive

“Volvo Penta has always been known as an innovator,” said Christophe Lavigne, Rec Boat vice president of engineering. “The first results were not great but were intriguing, and over the summer Volvo did a fantastic job addressing some issues we had, especially vibration. We went back in October and tested again, and made a commitment then to create an all-new boat for the Forward Drive system. We’ll have that boat at the Miami boat show, the Four Winns TS 222, which is a tow-style boat with ballast, speed control and a specific wake shape. We were perhaps ahead of the game because we’ve been working on a surf package for our Scarab jet-powered boats.”

“We’ve also spent a lot of time working on a trailer for this boat, which requires a drive cage like an inboard trailer, a high support in the rear and a lower support in the bow to make it easier to launch, and a heavy-duty jack so it can be raised high enough to drain the drive.

“I see great potential for the Forward Drive in what we call a pocket cruiser, a compact cruiser with a single engine. Unlike a regular drive, the Forward Drive does not cause the boat oscillate at low speeds with a single engine, and its exhaust design makes it very quiet, an excellent quality for a cruising boat.”


At the Miami boat show Cobalt will present the Forward Drive as an option for its 24 SD WSS, a Sport Deck model equipped with the Water Sports Series package.

Cobalt 24SDWSS

Cobalt 24SDWSS

Cobalt may offer its sterling 24SDWSS with the Volvo Penta Forward Drive

“Cobalt is really excited about the opportunity offered by the Forward Drive,” said Gavan Hunt Cobalt vice president of sales and marketing. “We have been pleased to partner with Volvo Penta in the initial stages of testing and development. We think there’s little to no sacrifice when compared to the stern drive for the boat owner with Forward Drive and it delivers a crisp and clean surf wake. It addresses competitive concerns about surf safety with the forward facing propellers located further underneath the boat and delivers comparable top speed performance and trim adjustment when compared to a Duoprop stern drive. It’s really a simple and effective solution to answer the needs of the wake surfer and water sports enthusiast.