By: John Ford

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Cobalt Boats’ 232WSS is a wakeboarding rocket with plenty of punch. John Ford gets to grips with one impressive American thoroughbred…





Cobalt has been producing classic high-end American family boats from its Kansas factory since 1968. Its boats have been sold in Australia by smaller importers over the years, but the global downturn meant that for some time Cobalt wasn't well represented Down Under. Enter JD's Boatshed, in the southern Sydney suburb of Caringbah.

James Souvleris is the general manager of this family business and its new showroom hosts an impressive display of Cobalts up to 32ft. The 232WSS on test sits around the middle of Cobalt's range, and while it's not the biggest model, it certainly has a "big boat" feel.

As we headed out onto Sydney's Port Hacking, James described the WSS -
or Water Sport Series - as a package of factory options designed expressly for wakeboarding. There's a wake tower and bimini along with high-output speakers and overhead lighting. Swingaway board racks are fitted to the tower and there
are upgraded graphics on the hull, the latter complemented by matching upholstery trim.

The boat has a truly sporty look and it really stands out both on the water and on its trailer. Rather than just stickers the graphics are built into the gelcoat, and in general the finish is outstanding. Although it's an optioned-up version of the standard 232, the 232WSS looks like it was designed to be a wakeboat right from the very beginning. Everything is shipshape and tidy.
It's a bowrider with plenty of room to move but there are also cosy spots for relaxing away from the crowd. With room for 12, the 232WSS can accommodate the biggest of families (and their friends).





Working back from the bow, there's a sizable rubber-lined anchor locker with a gas-strut-supported lid. There are docking lights and quality stainless cleats, while the bow area offers a variety of layout options - it can convert from a full-width sunpad to a lounge with table and seating for four. The central bulkheads either side of the walkway form huge carpet-lined storage areas for the foldaway table and other accessories. The upholstery is quality double-stitched vinyl with open-cell foam, so it won't retain water. You get twin stereo speakers in the bow and there's also an optional tonneau cover.

The cockpit can be separated from the bow section by a lower wind dam and the folding central section of the five-piece Taylor Made windscreen. The driver and passenger get body-hugging bucket seats that are adjustable for legroom and swivel to the rear to form a very social area. Both seats have bolsters for a variety of positions when underway. Passengers get front and side grabrails and a glovebox, the latter housing a 12V outlet and stereo with iPod dock.

A wraparound rear lounge seats five and there are recessed drinkholders, grabrails and stereo speakers aplenty. It's easy to move about the boat and there's a feeling of being securely enclosed under the Samson-branded wake tower and bimini, which protects much of the cockpit from the elements. There is ample headroom and the bimini is well braced, staying firmly in place without shaking or wind noise, even at high speed.

Under the floor there's a rubber-lined and lockable ski / board storage hatch. The floor sees rubber-backed carpet laid over a non-slip material, and the carpet can be unclipped and removed on days when the crowd is likely to drag sand or mud onboard.





A powered hatch cover gives easy access to the engine compartment, where the big V8 MerCruiser lives in company with a dual battery setup, fire extinguisher and air pump (for water toys). Power is fed to the water through Mercury's Bravo 3 sterndrive. This is Mercury's all-new motor - a multi-point, fuel-injected V8 designed for lower emissions and able to be run on lower octane fuel (down to 87 octane, which can be found in some parts of the US). According to Mercury's brochure, it has "industry-leading anti-corrosion protection from MerCruiser's closed cooling, MerCathode galvanic corrosion-prevention system." Hey - if it means the motor lasts longer, then bring it on.

The upholstered dash is classy and tasteful and just one more reminder of Cobalt's characteristically high level of build quality. Easy-to-read instruments display revs, speed, water depth (with alarm), air and water temperature, fuel, engine volts, engine temperature, oil pressure and motor trim. Add in Perfect Pass Cruise Control, a rear-view mirror and a stereo remote, and there's plenty to keep the driver amused.

Below the water the 232 has the pedigree to go with the luxury appointments. Construction is hand-laid 'glass with Kevlar in the transom's high-stress areas. There's no timber in the build - all the stringers are 'glass and the floor is polypropylene honeycomb, for strength and sound suppression.

A deep-vee hull carries through to a 21° deadrise with reverse chines for stability and handling. Cobalt claims its hulls have an extended running area that takes advantage of added wetted surface to the side and rear of the sterndrive to give a smoother ride and better transverse performance on takeoff. It certainly gets onto the plane with almost no transition and with a very flat attitude, even at full noise.

As the boat gets moving with its steady bow-down stance, the force of the 430hp engine is clearly evident. It accelerates strongly to just under 50kts (92kmh) with a restrained rumble from the exhausts. The driver's position is comfortable and there's plenty of support in sharp turns. With the bolster raised you can stand and wedge yourself in for a better view in close manoeuvres, but the seated position offers good visibility through the screen and feels the most natural. The well-placed throttle is smooth and the power-assisted steering turns easily from lock to lock.

The 232 handles beautifully - you can feel the chines bite into each safe and smooth turn. There's no banging or rattling from the hull over chop and the ride is soft and stable, with the spray deflecting nicely. The boat feels great at all speeds but it cruises happily at 3000rpm (around 40kmh), where the fuel burn is a bit under 40lt/h.

At low speeds the boat makes a big, wide hole in the water, creating an eminently wakeboard-friendly wave, while the sterndrive leg can be adjusted to control the wave height.





The Cobalt 232WSS has much to offer anyone wishing to add watersports thrills to the comfort and luxury of a sizeable powerboat. Both the construction and fit and finish is right up there, and with the big 430hp MerCruiser and an entirely capable hull, its performance will satisfy demanding skippers and watersports hounds alike. Throw in the family-friendly layout, and there's a lot to like in this classy import.





9.7kts (18kmh) @ 1800rpm - 17.5lt/h

22.1kts (41kmh) @ 2500rpm - 28.5lt/h

27.5kts (51kmh) @ 3000rpm - 39.9lt/h

34.0kts (63kmh) @ 3500rpm - 56lt/h

41.6kts (77kmh) @ 4000rpm - 80lt/h

50.8kts (94kmh) @ 4800rpm - WOT




On the plane...

Superb handling

Awesome power

Quality fittings




Dragging the chain...


A 2.59m beam means towing restrictions - check with your
State's regulatory body










Price as tested: $129,062


Options fitted: Bow tonneau, premium sound system, tower speakers, transom shower, Perfect Pass Cruise Control and more


Priced from: $93,700 with 5.7lt MerCruiser





Type: Monohull wakeboat


Material: Fibreglass / Kevlar


Length: 6.86m (7.64m inc. swim platform)


Beam: 2.59m


Weight 1886kg


Deadrise: 21°





People: 12


Rec. HP: 260-430


Max. HP: 430


Fuel: 189lt


Water: 38lt





Make/model: MerCruiser 8.2 MAG HO


Type: Petrol V8, multipoint and fuel-injected


Power: 430hp


Weight: 490kg


Displacement: 8200cc





Cobalt Boats


Neodesha, Kansas









JD's Boatshed


27-29 Captain Cook Drive,


Caringbah, NSW, 2229


Tel: (02) 9525 3166




Originally published in TrailerBoat #272. 


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