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JOHN ZAMMIT takes this surefooted sweetheart for a spin

Chaparral 420 Premiere

Chaparral's sporty DNA runs deep within the refined flagship 420 Premiere, but JOHN ZAMMIT finds this and more on one red-hulled beauty.

As with so many things in life it's the little things that make the difference. That's what separates the run-of-the-mill from something special, small details that individually don't warrant much thought, but collectively make all the difference. That's what came to mind onboard the Chaparral 420 Premiere, the flagship of the 26-model fleet ranging from 18 to 42 feet.

We've tested a couple of models from this Nashville (Georgia, USA) manufacturer over the last 12 months and we've been impressed - this time was no different. At 42ft (12.8m) overall and unlike previous Chaparrals we've been on, the 420 is not a full-on sportsboat and didn't quite have the heart-thumping performance of its smaller sister ships. The 420 Premiere is more a sportsyacht - a quiet, comfortable cruiser - but whatever you call her, she's impressive.

Powered by twin 370hp Volvo Penta IPS500 pod-drive diesels with joystick docking, the Chaparral 420 Premiere certainly gets along nicely. The only other power option available for this model is the 435hp IPS600 system, but I'm not sure that you'd need the extra grunt, especially the way this boat jumps out of the hole.

You get lots of standard inclusions with Chaparral, the type of small details I referred to earlier, like fuel fillers either side of the hull (so no restrictions as to what side you pull-up to at the pump), handholds in all the right places for moving about underway, LED lighting throughout (including indirect mood lighting) and, standard spec for Australia, a 10kW Kohler genset and hydraulic swimplatform rated to 470kg or the weight of a jetski.




The spacious cockpit is partly shaded by a hardtop with a sliding sunroof and a couple of small, fixed skylights either side. Aft to port is a roomy L-shaped lounge, its side-mount table removable to a dedicated storage spot leaving the area unencumbered.

Aft on the transom, Chaparral's signature rear-facing lounge with inbuilt footrest takes advantage of the wide swimplatform and makes a great spot to chill on the anchor. Handy cupholders and remote audio controls are nearby, as is a hot-and-cold transom shower, foldout ladder and storage locker. And, just when you think you've got all of life's luxuries at hand, you discover that the entire seat folds down at the flick of a switch forming a large aft sunpad.

Adjacent to the cockpit lounge is a two-tiered wetbar to starboard that's ideal for preparing drinks and light meals. It features a sink and extendable tap, electric barbecue and under-bench fridge. There's also a cabinet housing the audio system complete with iPod and USB interfaces and a retractable TV that emerges from the upper level at the press of a button. Ahead of the wetbar and up a step is the helm with a chaise lounge to port doubling as extra guest seating.

Outdoor-living options continue on the foredeck, a favourite hangout for teenagers and younger folk, where there's a sunpad with adjustable backrest and inbuilt cupholders. The anchor gear is conveniently housed out of the way under a hatch, so no worries about tripping over it, plus there's a stainless steel anchor, a freshwater washdown and a remote spotlight.




The accommodation below decks on the Chaparral 420 Premiere is a standout and with head height of 1.98m, feels roomy and looks ultra-chic with a high-standard fitout and finish, starting with the 'floating' staircase incorporating mood lighting that leads down from the cockpit. The galley to port boasts a full-size, two-door, stainless steel domestic fridge-freezer, twin-burner ceramic cooktop and convection microwave - the test boat even had optional stainless steel bench tops.

Ample storage and soft-close drawers and cupboards are positioned under-bench and overhead, including designated utensil and plate storage -  by the way, all cutlery and crockery come as standard.  Across to starboard, an elegant U-shaped dinette features a solid wood table with folding leaves that lowers to form another double berth and a 32in TV is fitted to the bulkhead. The main AC/DC distribution panel is handily located at the foot of the stairs, discreetly tucked away behind stylish mirrored doors. Large bonded hull windows and skylights overhead let in loads of light, timber blinds providing all the privacy required.




There are two luxurious cabins, the master suite is forward and roomy thanks to the Wide Tech hull design of the Chaparral 420 Premiere that carries the beam of the boat farther forward creating more width in the bow. A clever and electrically-operated island bed flips down at the front for extra floor space and there are separate and opposing rooms for the head and the shower abutting the master's entrance. A full-length, beveled-mirror door leads to the full head-height shower room, while the head compartment has a mirrored vanity, countertop with ceramic sink, vacuflush toilet and timber floors. A sliding timber door with translucent panels adds natural light and provides privacy to the master suite.

A similar sliding door with opaque inserts leads to the aft cabin fitted with L-shaped seating that converts to a queen bed in seconds. There's also an en suite shower room and head featuring a separate vanity with sink built into an alcove just inside the doorway. An entertainment module is incorporated into the bulkhead and houses a TV/DVD with games hookup - I can imagine the kids having a ball in here at day's end, while the parents enjoying a couple of sundowners in the saloon or cockpit.

The two cabins have excellent storage and hanging space and both have opening portholes, as does the shower room and the head, so there's plenty of natural light and ventilation. The attention to detail continues with cedar-lined wardrobes, dimmer switches for the lighting, a central vacuum system and carbon monoxide detectors, even the switch plates and outlets are finished in satin nickel.




Getting to the engines is through an electrically-operated hatch in the cockpit sole, with the facility to remove the seats and raise the cockpit floor if you ever needed full access. A ladder leads to a large engineroom that is also home to the hot-water service, genset, fire-suppressant system and batteries.

Space around the engines for servicing, while a bit squeezy outboard of the portside motor, is acceptable. However, I thought the positioning of the Racor fuel filters well forward wasn't ideal, because if there's a fuel issue at sea it means removing the ladder to get to them. Twin aluminum fuel tanks (interconnected) with a total capacity of 1136lt are housed forward of the engines and the water tank (291lt) is situated forward of the fuel, so they're all close to the centre of gravity.




The elevated starboard helm features twin, fully-adjustable bucket seats with bolsters and integrated headrests for the skipper and navigator. These face a high-angled non-glare dash incorporating a 12in Garmin touchscreen with GPS-plotter that's located front and centre. (Chaparral have chosen Garmin as its electronics partner). There are Volvo Penta engine gauges either side of the screen and a couple of air-con vents built into the dash. Below that are trim tab controls, trim tab indicators, a row of rocker switches and not a lot of room left for much else - so if you want to add a second screen this could present a problem.

The skipper's view forward across the bow through the frameless windscreen, and laterally through panoramic side windows, is good and looking aft from the elevated helm it is easy to judge where the stern ends when backing into a berth. Another nice detail are a couple of small but electrically-operated quarter vent windows forward that came in handy during our test for a bit of fresh air at the helm.

I felt the skipper's seat was a tad low for me and as a result the engine controls didn't fall easily to hand. Having said that, I found by using the seat's bolster I was able to get comfortable and I imagine it wouldn't be difficult to have the seat raised slightly.




We ran the Chaparral through the whole rev range up to WOT (3600rpm) where we managed just over 33kts. The 420 Premiere is predictable and surefooted for a big boat and hooks nicely into the turns. All-in-all a very comfortable ride, the 370hp engines a nice match for this hull.

At around 3000rpm she felt just right and to me that seemed like the ideal cruise speed for this boat. At that rate we were doing close to 24kts using 105lt/h of fuel - that's economical cruising for a big boat.




Top-quality fit and finish
Performance and handling
Loads of standard inclusions




Limited space on the dash for a second screen
No sight gauge on fuel tanks
At this level, we would expect an inverter






As with all of the Chaparral's we've tested the 420 Premiere handles well. There was a half-metre of short, sharp chop on Port Phillip Bay for test day, the sportsyacht getting up and out of the hole effortlessly. Then with half tabs down she was on the plane at 2200rpm for just under 11kts. Noticeably quiet underway, the 420 has an air of sophisticated sportiness, accentuated by a great, throaty exhaust burble as we took off - this in itself was enough to get the adrenalin flowing.





Twin 370hp Volvo Penta IPS500 pod-drives 

1000  5.6kts  8.64
1200  7kts   12.5
1400  7.8kts  16.5
1600  8.6kts  27.18
1800  9.3kts  38.9
2000  10kts  49.9
2200  10.8kts  64.34
2400  12.9kts  79.5
2600  16.2kts  90
2800  19.8kts  101.14
3000  23.9kts  105.54
3200  26.4kts  119.6
3400  29.9kts  138
3590  33.2kts  157.62




Wood flooring to saloon and galley, central vacuum system, stainless steel benchtops in galley, aft cabin 19in TV, reverse-cycle air-con, dash cover, electric sunroof, Garmin 12in touchscreen with GPS-plotter, electric barbecue, remote spotlight, stainless steel anchor, foredeck sunpad, hydraulic swimplatform, windlass and chain, Roulette Red hull colour, electric-lift TV in cockpit, leather upgrade, and underwater lights








MATERIAL: Fibreglass
TYPE: Planing monohull
BEAM: 4.06m
WEIGHT: 10,750kg
DRAFT: 1.14m



FUEL: 1136lt
WATER: 291lt
HOLDING TANK: 159lt   



MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS500 D6-370
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 370 (each)
DISPLACEMENT: 5.5lt (each) 
WEIGHT:  887kg (each)



Chaparral Boats Australia,
34 The Strand,
Williamstown, VIC, 3016
Phone: (03) 9397 6977


Tradeaboat says…

The Chaparral 420 Premiere is a nice boat with a high-standard of finish and lots of practical inclusions. She will make a great dayboat for those couples or families stepping up from trailerables and looking for something with a bit more space and sophistication. With a comfortable cruise range of around 220nm, short coastal hops are also an option, as is the ability to spend weekends or days away without foregoing any of life's luxuries. If it were me, I'd add an inverter rather than having to start the genset every time I wanted a cup of tea or turn the tele on for the kids. Overall, though, the 420 Premiere is a very impressive number.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 423, Feb-Mar 2012.

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