By: Rick Huckstepp, Photography by: Lou Martin

Who says you need a big rig for wakeboarding? Rick Huckstepp found that the small Viper HPS Cielle had a lot of bite

There are some pretty neat ski packages on the market at the moment, and with wakeboarding emerging as a popular family recreation the boats coming on line are getting glitzier by the season.
Those taking to watersports for the first time might well be reluctant to jump into these big rigs, which gobble up a lot of shed and yard space and are often a big drain on the hip pocket. Not to mention the towing weight, often requiring a small four-wheel drive to launch and retrieve. Enter the Viper Cielle.
This rig is in the Tom Thumb category when it comes to speed boats, but it is big in other aspects – but not the price tag.

Unlike most other ski boats that have a three-piece construction (hull, topside and floor), this 13-footer is in two pieces, with the cockpit deck moulded as part of the topside.
It is very acute in the bow and in the top liner a large hatch opens for gear stowage. The aft end of this compartment is open to the leg space under the dash but gear is kept in place by a safety net. Under the stowage area, a 40lt polyester fibreglass fuel tank is installed. It is filled from the filler in front of the curved perspex windscreen.
The dash is sparse, with only a trim gauge and tachometer for the 60hp Tohatsu. There would be enough space here for flush-mounting a speedometer and, although not fitted, a rearview mirror on top, which should be a prerequisite for towing skiers.
The drinkholders installed for the skipper and passenger are too small to hold an ordinary water bottle.
The steering on the test boat is manual cable and, underway, exhibited an uncomfortable amount of torque. The torque was eased somewhat with the engine trimmed right in, but the bow buried into the chop. Trimmed out to the ideal angle for engine running, the excessive torque at the helm reappeared. This is no big deal, as a correctly set rudder tab under the anti-cavitation plate would fix the problem.
Seating in the Viper is low, and combined with the low profile, you feel like you’re right in the water. It’s not far away anyway, and you can put the arm over the gunwale and touch the water. The passenger seat slides on a rack for reversal when the observer is watching the skier and the wraparound back of the rear, full-cockpit-wide seat hinges up to reveal the void of the transom bulkhead. The crank battery is mounted here and the base of the removable ski pole is locked in place with a security pin. There is enough space left for stowage of spare fuel in a 20lt tote tank.
A couple of pockets in the cockpit liner with net retainers on their openings allow for the stowage of the usual sunscreen and spare hats.
The supplied 60hp Tohatsu is the maximum recommended horsepower for this boat and will be a cost-saver all-round, from the initial purchase to feeding it fuel. It needs no more horses, by the way, and snapped out of the hole very fast and effortlessly. And though no speedometer was fitted, my guess is that the speed would have been in excess of 75km/h. It got there in the blink of a eye, too.

The manufacturer tells us that it aimed this rig at the retiree market. But it slots in well with a small family that wants to start skiing and wakeboarding for a minimal outlay. We put an adult skier out the back and it pulled her out of the water effortlessly. It would have no trouble towing two on wakeboards, either, which is pretty smart for 60 horses! Manoeuvrability with skier in tow was also good and, with plenty of power at the throttle, it performed well in turns.
After skiing in the Coomera River, we had a good run down the Broadwater with 20kts of wind against the tide. Sloppy water meant short, sharp chop, and this boat landed gently. A little spray did come over the forequarters when heading into the wind, though.
Being so short, it couldn’t bridge the peaks of the chop. Rather, it ran down in between and over the next. Considering the size of this boat and the conditions at the time, it performed remarkably well.
For those looking at a sprightly tender for a bigger boat, it has three davit anchoring points for hoisting aboard.
For the price, you won’t get a cheaper, purpose-built ski boat than the Viper Cielle.

Light, fast, and tows skiers with ease
Basic boat, but with an affordable purchase price

Torque affected steering
Small drinkholders
No rearview mirror for skipper


Specifications: Viper HPS Cielle

Price as tested:                          $19,990 BMT
Options fitted:                          Yellow colour in hull
Priced from:                             $19,400

Material:                                   Fibreglass
Length overall:                          3.9m
Beam:                             1.7m
Weight:                                     250kg hull only
Length on trailer:                       4.5m

People:                                     Four adults
Fuel:                                         40lt
Rec/max HP:                            60
Engine weight:                          Not more than 120kg

Make/model:                             Tohatsu
Type:                                       Carburetted two-stroke
Rated HP:                                 60
Displacement:                           938cc
Weight:                                     115kg
Gearbox ratio:                           2.3:1

Neptune Marine,
6 Carlyle Street,
Slacks Creek, 4127, Qld
Phone: (07) 3290 6370

Originally published in TrailerBoat #216


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