By Zenon Bilas

Chris Craft boats unveiled its 2018 lineup near its headquarters in Sarasota, Florida and Power Boating Canada magazine was there to see and test the 17 models on display at the docks of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In addition to media, dealers from Canada, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Ukraine and many other countries traveled from all corners of the world to see what was new for Chris Craft in 2018.

The Chris Craft lineup ranged from the Carina 21 (open bow) and Capri 21 (closed bow) all the way to the Commander 44, its longest and most expensive boat. Though Chris Craft boats are built in Sarasota, the Commander 44 is built at a plant in Italy. The Commander 44 combines the lines of a classic lobster boat with a luxurious and spacious design on deck and throughout the cabin. The abundant use of stainless steel adds to the beauty of the boat. The Commander 44 features twin Volvo Penta 600 IPS engines for plenty of acceleration and a top speed that reaches the low 40 mph mark.

With wake surfing continuing to be the hottest wake sport, Chris Craft is jumping in the fray of boat builders that offer a surf edition by featuring a surf package on its Launch 27. The 26’8” long, 5580 lbs Launch 27 is a perfect boat for wake surfing. The length, hull weight and deep deadrise hull design work together to create a big wake, especially at the wake surfing speeds of about 10 mph.

The surf package includes the Volvo Penta forward facing stern drive that keeps the propeller safely away from surfers. To shape the wake and to turn the wake into a clean wave, the Chris Craft surf package includes Wake Worx surf trim tabs. To keep accurate speed, which is crucial to all wake sport especially wake surfing, the Chris Craft surf package features Zero Off GPS speed control.

We got a chance to see the Launch 27 surf edition in action on Sarasota Bay as a wake surfing pro and several dealers surfed the boat’s wave for miles. We got to see how effective the Wake Worx surf tabs and Zero Off speed control are as the driver adjusted the wake and boat speed from the helm with accurate precision to give each surfer the specific wake shape and speed desired. Also, we saw how the surf tabs can be adjusted from one side of the boat to the other, allowing the surfer to transfer to the other side of the boat’s wake without stopping the boat.

After surfing behind the Launch 27, we were treated to a demo by the pro who surfed the wave of the Commander 44. With nearly 30,000 lbs of dry weight along with some adjusting of the trim tabs, the Commander 44 created a massive wave of over 3 feet in height for endless surfing that gave one more reason why the Commander 44 is such a big hit.

Watch for upcoming boat tests of some of the 2018 Chris Craft lineup in our future issues.