BOAT TEST: SUPRA LAUNCH 22V

By: John Ford


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America's Supra Boats were imported for several years but they're now built locally under licence. Supra is a powerhouse in the massive US market, so we asked John Ford to have a squiz at the Aussie-made version.

BOAT TEST: SUPRA LAUNCH 22V
SUPRA LAUNCH 22V

 

TEST: SUPRA LAUNCH 22V

Josh Sanders knows a bit about wakeboarding. He was Australian Junior Wakeboard Champion in 1996 and he went on to take out the US Open in 2000. A little closer to TrailerBoat HQ, he's also racked up four straight victories at the Moomba Masters in Melbourne.

Needless to say, Josh knows his stuff - and he recognises the quality that manifests itself in Supra's US range of wakeboats. Wakeboarding is huge in the US and Supra has cornered a big chunk of that market, building around 3000 boats a year in its Tennessee factory. It's been behind several important tournament towboat innovations, too - Supra says it can put its name to the first inboard bowrider, produced in 1983, and the introduction of the waketower in 1998, to name but a couple.

In 2003 Sanders took the opportunity to import and sell Supra boats in Australia. The import business went so well that he partnered with his brother, Justin, to build the boats under licence in their hometown of Nowra, on the NSW south coast.

The pair promptly set off to the United States to spend six months of 2009 getting to grips with the parent company's manufacturing principles and techniques. Back on Aussie soil, they then imported the moulds and have been building Supra products for the last couple of years - and with the same eye for detail that's found throughout the US boats.



FUN AND GAMES

It's just a short drive from the Nowra Supra factory to the Shoalhaven River. With wide, open stretches of smooth water, it's an ideal test bed for wakeboarding.

The focus of TrailerBoat's recent visit was this World's Edition Series; it celebrates Supra's sponsorship of the World Wakeboarding Championship and features a striking red, black and white colour scheme, plus sponsors' logos, a power upgrade, better speakers, a cargo rack and more.

Supra describes the bow section as the "play pen"; an area with ample room, quality furnishings and innovative flip-up seating in the central walkthrough. The bow converts to a flat bed, or - thanks to the removable centre section - into comfortable seating for three. A central padded section in the walkthrough lifts to reveal storage with space for boards and an optional water ballast tank, while the safety glass windscreen has a stainless surround.

The driver has a hip-hugging, wraparound seat with a lifting bolster - it's adjustable in every direction, as is the height of the sporty steering wheel. The modern dash is dominated by a 6.5in Vision System digital display, which gives computer control of all engine activity, plus settings for speed, ballast, the wake plate and stereo volume.

The Vision System offers computer-programmable wake settings for up to 12 riders, while the GPS locks in the desired speed and the stereo volume self-adjusts to account for engine noise. How good is that? Alongside the digital readouts are analogue gauges for speed, trim, revs and fuel. Of course you can drive the boat without the aid of the computer and there's also normal manual adjustment for the wake plate (Supra calls it a "Smart Plate"), plus the flexibility of up to 650kg of water ballast to tailor your wake just how you like it.

The passenger/observer seating is rear facing and can be upsized by using a flip-up section on the central walkthrough. The passenger seating continues around the port side and behind the driver, creating a party boat layout where the majority of the seating gives its occupants a great view of the action to the rear. The boat is rated to carry up to 15 people and while that might be a squeeze, there's seating for everyone. 



STORAGE AND STUFF

The substantial tower over the cockpit gives this boat a sense of safely enclosed security. It offers good sun protection too, plus swivel racks with storage for four boards. The floor has been covered in deep-pile marine carpet and the gunwales have plenty of height - an important consideration when kids are onboard.

Supra claims this boat boasts a generous 3400lt of storage, with lots of under-seat space and a big icebox beneath the rear lounge. Well-placed cupholders and handholds abound and everything is quality stainless steel. The nicely finished upholstery is done in white, stain-resistant Syntec vinyl with grey trim. All fittings give an impression of quality and durability.



NOW THE POWER

The whole sunpad section rises to reveal the 340hp, 5.7lt Indmar V8. It's hooked up to a 14.25in x 14in four-blade stainless prop via a V-drive. It goes without saying that the motor proved plenty powerful, with lots of torque for pulling riders out of the water.

The driving position is secure and comfortable and forward vision is good. The throttle is well placed and the electronic control slips the boat into gear smoothly. With the Vision System preset it is simply a matter of putting the boat into gear and the computer takes over - accelerating the boat to the set speed, adjusting the wakeboard and pumping in the water ballast. It's a little freaky at first, but I soon learned to trust the system.

With the setting on the computer dialled in for Josh, anyone could tow him at the perfect speed. All that's required is to steer the boat in the right direction with the knowledge that everything was set for maximum performance.

This means families can have controls set for individual members while drivers of varying levels of experience can tow riders with confidence.

Once underway the hull planes almost instantaneously. The drop-keel design gives a surefooted ride throughout the speed range and lets the boat be thrown around with vigour. In turns it feels like the hull is being sucked into the water. It just hung on with no hint of letting go, no matter how sharply and quickly I threw it around. The sure-footed ride is a product of the deep-vee keel up front running to a flatter rear section, followed by a hollow area behind the prop designed to suck the boat down.



THE WRAP

Heading along the river at close to 40mph (64kmh), the motor sounded sweet and grunty. It felt safe and comfortable at speed across chop and slicing through turns. It was fun to drive and was very comfortable for passengers.

Its true value, however, is measured in terms of what it leaves behind - i.e., its wake. The shape of the wake is the boat's essence and with a master like Josh Sanders in tow, this Supra clearly had the goods. The hull shape and the hydraulic wake plate left a big hole in the water while the clever engineering allowed us to shape the wake to any given rider's style.

This is a big boat with nimble handling and a strong pedigree for competition or social boarding. It covers both bases in style, with room to take half the neighbourhood along for the ride.

 



On the plane...

Quality finish
Great handling
Supra Vision control



Dragging the chain...

Still searching…

 



PERFORMANCE

6.4kts (12kmh) @ 1260rpm (on the plane)
12.4kts (23kmh) @ 2000rpm
23.2kts (43kmh) @ 3000rpm
30.7kts (57kmh) @ 4000rpm
37.2kts (69kmh) @ 5000rpm
38.3kts (71kmh) @ 5200 (WOT)

 

 



Specifications: SUPRA LAUNCH 22V



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $113,134
Options fitted: Playpen bow, rear entry steps with love seat, World's Package, 340hp upgrade
Priced from: $92,462



GENERAL

Type: Monohull sportsboat
Material: Fibreglass
Length: 6.9m
Beam: 2.49m
Weight: 1725kg (dry)



CAPACITIES

People: 15
Rec. HP: 340
Max. HP: 409
Fuel: 147lt



ENGINE

Make/model: Indmar Assault 340hp
Type: V8 fuel-injected petrol
Displacement: 5700cc
Propeller: 14.25in x14in four-blade



SUPPLIED AND MANUFACTURED BY


Supra Boats
10/10 Central Ave
Nowra, 2541, NSW
Web: www.supraboats.com.au



Originally published in TrailerBoat #270.

Find Supra boats for sale.

 


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