6 new boat design trends
What's happening to our favourite cottage rides
The enforcer [towboat]
Love ’em or hate ’em, powerful, aggressive-looking sport boats have rendered the traditional, inboard-powered ski boat almost extinct. Today’s towboats are “all about wakeboarding and wakesurfing,” says Brock Elliott, general manager of Campion Boats, based in Kelowna, which makes the Svfara towboat line.
Design makes waves
Elliott says the formula for creating a perfect wake combines a deep-V profile in the bow and amidships with a relatively flat bottom at the stern. Some designs incorporate ballast systems that add water to bladders in the hull to basically sink the boat and throw up either a massive wake or, in wakesurfing (a newer sport that involves board surfing behind a boat sans towline), a tightly curling wave in just the right place. Other designs use a series of adjustable tabs on the stern to modify trim for optimum wake.
Towboats are loaded with enough high-tech gadgetry to make their $75,000-plus price tags seem more reasonable—to hard-core boarders, anyway. Most are equipped with cruise control, making them easier to drive, explains John Kittler, of Hyperactive Watersports in Calgary, which specializes in watersports equipment. Similarly, users can preset ballast and trim to create a variety of personalized wake characteristics with the touch of a button. Tower-mounted video cameras with direct playback in the dash are one way to revisit a gnarly wipeout.
V-drive engines—which place the power plant in the back of the boat, the shaft directed forward before making a V towards the rear, and the prop exiting the bottom of the hull—are a defining towboat trait. Unlike old-school sterndrives, V-drives allow for more seating space in the centre of the boat. More importantly, “they track very straight at all speeds because there’s no outdrive to cause the stern to wander,” explains Jeff Barnes, of Pride Marine Group in Muskoka. Some towboats feature steering fins on the hull. These move the boat’s pivot point forward to improve manoeuvrability and prevent the boat from sliding sideways, much the way a centreboard does in a sailboat, says Steve Killing, a yacht designer based in Midland, who helped pioneer computer-aided yacht design.
This article was originally published on January 6, 2011