Runabout builders installing Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive continue to take a bite out of the wakesurfing pie from inboard-powered models from the tow-sport brands. Starcraft‘s SCX 231 Surf Edition is an example. With its prop positioned at the front of the drive, safety concerns are minimized. In addition, a trio of ballast bags add 1,385 pounds to sink the hull deeper in the water and produce a bigger wave. Surf tabs, similar to oversize trim tabs, alter the boat’s port-to-starboard attitude to create and shape a surfable wake. Aboard our test boat, an optional Murphy touchscreen display ($4,487) provided ballast and tab controls; Zero Off speed control held the boat at an individual rider’s preferred speed.
We smiled pulling into the first wave of the day. With only a minimal passenger load, the SCX built a sizable wave with a relatively steep face, medium-size pocket, and plenty of that all-important forward push. No, it’s not the ridiculously clean face that tow-sport boatbuilders produce with their models, but it’s not that far off. Transitions between a wake focused on the left or right side are fast enough that the expert rider we had on hand could easily cross over without losing his momentum. For recreational riders, that means there will be no downtime switching between regular (left-foot forward) and goofy (right-foot forward) riders.
Unlike most surf-focused models, the SCX features an open design closer to a deck boat than a traditional bowrider. Given that surfing often includes a crowd (and benefits from the weight), it works. Seating wraps the cockpit perimeter, from the squared-off bow to the length of the port side, and culminates with an aft bench. Its backrest, shared with an aft seat facing the swim platform, flattens completely to form a generous sun pad. Overall, the freeboard is deep, giving passengers added confidence when crossing those sizable surf wakes. As to performance, a Volvo Penta 5.3 pushed the hull on plane in 4.8 seconds, en route to a 46.5 mph top speed. Aiding that top speed? Something missing from an inboard: a sterndrive’s ability to trim — no matter where its prop is mounted.
* Vinyl brow limits dash glare. Upscale aluminum switches with LED indicators flank the steering wheel.
* Standard Kicker KMC 10 sound system is Bluetooth-ready. A KMC 20 upgrade is available with an amp and subwoofer.
* Wake-boosting features also create clean, sizable wakes for wakeboarding; a tow-sport tower is a worthy option.
* Wide-open design with only a helm windscreen leaves crew exposed to the wind and elements.
* Forward Drive creates prop wash upon initial acceleration, which can disturb a beginner’s control of the board. Start with the drive pointed away from the rider.
* To truly eliminate worry about the sterndrive, the extended swim platform should be standard rather than an option.
Monterey’s 23-foot 238SS Surf Edition ($86,766 with a V8-300 Volvo Penta Forward Drive) features a bowrider layout with bow cockpit, stern bench, sun pad and wraparound windshield. Surf/wake features include Zero Off GPS-based speed control, a 2,200-pound ballast system, surf tabs, and a Roswell tower with board racks.
Price: $59,227 (with test power)
Available Power: Forward Drive
Engine: Single Volvo Penta 5.3L V8-300 C-G
Drive/Prop: Volvo Penta Duoprop Forward Drive/K4 stainless-steel propset
Gear Ratio: 2.32:1
Fuel Load: 40 gal.
Crew Weight: 320 lb.
Starcraft Marine – New Paris, Indiana; 574-831-2950; starcraftmarine.com