REVIEW: LARSON LX 225 S BOWRIDER

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD


It’s whale season off the coast so we sent John Ford to Sydney to observe these giants of the deep in a Larson LX 225 S bowrider.

American bowriders are great harbour and river boats but everyone knows they can’t handle the open ocean. That’s what I thought too, until Good Times Marine head honcho Derek Rodway suggested we test his new Larson LX 225 S by chasing whales offshore with his family and then indulging in some sightseeing, including touring some gnarly surf breaks off Sydney’s Cronulla Beach.

 

LARSON LX 225 S

LARSON LX 225 S bowrider

The modern lines of the new Larson might not be of Moby Dick proportions, but it’s still pretty roomy. At just over 7m (or 23ft), the 225 S is an imposing presence on the water and its spacious cockpit will accommodate a large family in style. It’s rated for 10 passengers in the ’States but due to different local regulations this is reduced to nine in Australia. That meant there was plenty of room for our party of three adults and three kids to spread out. As with all families, we had loads of ‘necessities’ to bring aboard and the Larson soaked ’em up — food and drinks were sent to three cooler bins around the boat while ample storage around the seats and the enginewell took care of spare clothing and safety equipment.

This is a great boat for socialising — the driver and passenger seats swivel backwards to face a U-shaped lounge that wraps around the rear of the cockpit. An optional dining table turns the space into a relaxing nautical picnic area or, in our case, a peaceful morning tea spent talking boats while the kids played with their iPods in the bow.

 

AMERICAN BOATS

LARSON LX 225 S american bowrider

Larson has been a real success story for Derek and Good Times Marine. As a direct importer of the brand into Australia he has been able to offer a range of quality boats at very competitive prices. The LX-badged boats are the entry-level models in a range of more than 50 Larsons extending to 31ft cruisers.

Boasting a history dating to 1913, Larson is one of the longest running boat builders in the world and it claims to be the biggest fibreglass boatbuilder in America. Emerging from some rough times during the GFC, Larson has positioned itself to take advantage of its innovative Virtual Engineered Technology (VEC), which sees hulls produced in a closed-moulded computer-controlled process that also employs robots to fit components. This cutting-edge technology is said to ensure consistent quality and a perfect finish to the gelcoat and internal structures. The entire hull is made from composite materials as is the transom, the latter an area where many builders resort to timber.

Any thoughts that this entry-level model would be dull and drab were dispelled at first glance of the perfectly finished hull and well laid-out interior. And as we were soon to discover, it’s also far from dull to drive with ample power from a 5.7L sterndrive. But in the meantime we headed toward Port Hacking at a leisurely pace while I looked over the boat.

 

INTERIOR AND LAYOUT

LARSON LX 225 LAYOUT

Guests are welcomed at the wide two-stage swim platform and a retractable cushion on the starboard side walkway keeps the upholstery shipshape. In the cockpit I found comfortable seating for five on the lounge with two more positions at the helm and room for four or five more in the bow. The rear sunpad over the engine bay also converts to a rear-facing rumble seat for two.

Overhead on this boat was a black Roswell Area 52 tower that adds to the boat’s sporty appeal and practicality, with the clip-in racks offering storage for boards to keep them out of the way. The tower includes double tow points and it’s pre-wired for a choice of external speakers to augment those already on board for the Jensen stereo.

There is simple access to the bow and the wide 2.54m beam and supporting underwater chines mean the boat has good stability at rest. Seating up front is comfortable and there is lots of space to stretch out on a bow infill that turns the forward section into a relaxing sunlounge. Fibreglass-lined, insulated and drained storage areas below the seats look neat and can double as coolers for drinks and food. There’s no bowsprit or dedicated anchor storage but there is space for an anchor under the seats and unobtrusive stainless steel pop-up cleats to secure it when deployed.

In keeping with the boat’s sporty appeal, the driver’s seat is a well-contoured bucket with plenty of support and has a 20cm slide adjustment, plus a flip-up bolster to cruise and be seen. A vinyl hood over the instrument display ties the panel together while the three-piece wheel has a grippy, vinyl trim and vertical adjustment. Gauges are clearly visible and provide information about important engine condition and trim. To port, the passenger gets the same stylish seat, plus a glovebox and grab handle, while in both footwells there is useful storage space, with yet more room between the helm seats in a monster underfloor ski locker.

 

OFFSHORE BOAT

LARSON LX 225 boat

True to his word, Derek headed to sea and there we found whales, spending time with a mother and calf that were sending tell-tale sprays of mist into the air as they surfaced. Derek’s family returned to shore in our camera boat, leaving us to explore his local surf breaks and dive spots along the reefs before heading in to see the historic shacks and crystal-clear dive locations of Boat Harbour.

All this was in the name of examining how versatile the 225 S could be, so it was soon time to experience the bowrider for myself as a lazy 1.5m swell and 0.5m chop provided just the right conditions. Settling into the helm, you soon feel at home with well-positioned controls and the seat and wheel adjusted to suit. Visibility through the screen was good and the high sides offered reassuring security. Power is from a 300hp MerCruiser and it had us underway quickly with no undue lifting of the bow to inhibit forward vision. Running parallel to the beach we cruised at an easy 70kmh, hitting incoming swells at an angle, and I found we could maintain this speed at every approach to the waves with a gentle ride over the chop and an easy motion over the swell. No doubt the deep 21° deadrise contributes to the boat’s superb seakeeping and the hull inspires confidence.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

LARSON LX 225 S HANDLING

Handling was equally impressive. The boat turned predictably and smoothly and even in the choppy water there was no wallowing or pitching. As an offshore cruiser, the Larson accounted for itself extremely well and I can see intrepid owners would have no problems running along the coast between ports in the right conditions.

We did find the tacho was giving false readings so we were unable to record accurate speed runs through the range. However, I can report that I wound the boat out to a top speed of 86kmh and it still felt impeccably safe, offering no surprises. A 55kmh mid-range cruise was at about 4000rpm and my best guess is that planing speed (around 20kmh) would see you sitting at a bit over 2500rpm.

Derek is so confident of the Larson’s sea handling he is willing to offer offshore tests to potential customers; based on what I experienced, anyone taking up the offer should be impressed.  And, if nothing else, it demonstrates the boat’s ability to get home safely from spots like Sydney Harbour and Port Phillip Bay, where conditions can get ugly very quickly.

 

THE VERDICT

LARSON LX 225 SKI POLE

Our test convinced me that the Larson is no one-trick pony. It’s a roomy entertainer with power to tow water toys and the speed to thrill. It won’t be out of place amongst the youthful wakeboard fraternity and it’s right at home as a leisurely family cruiser on the harbour.

Prices start at $54,000 but our test boat had a list of options that took the drive-away cost to $65,990. It comes on an Australian-built Dunbier Super Rolla trailer with electric brakes. That’s got to be good value for such a well-finished and well-mannered boat.

 

ON THE PLANE...

  • Safe and predictable handling and ride
  • Well laid out and lots of room for its size
  • Quality finish and high build quality

 

DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

  • Could have better anchor storage
  • 2.54m beam means the use of Wide Load signs. No real inconvenience.

 

LARSON LX 225 S SPECIFICATIONS

LARSON LX 225 BOW

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $65,990

Options fitted: Bow infill, stainless steel package, tilt steer, dinette table rumble seat, Roswell tower, and more.

Priced from: $54,000

 

GENERAL

Type: Bowrider monohull

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 7.03m

Beam: 2.54m

Weight: 2000kg (BMT)

Deadrise: 21°

 

CAPACITIES

People: 9 (Australians)

Max. HP: 300hp

Fuel: 136L

 

ENGINE

Make/model: MerCruiser 300hp

Type: Fuel-injected petrol V8

Displacement: 5.7lt

Propeller: 21in

 

MANUFACTURED BY

Larson Boats, Little Falls, Minnesota, USA

 

SUPPLIED BY

Good Times Marine

2 Toorak Ave Taren Point 2229

Tel: (02) 9524 6999

Web: www.goodtimesmarine.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #300, October / November 2013

Find Larson boats for sale.

 


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