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Georgia Girl

To Forward Face or not, that is the question...

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I will be a first time boat owner, hopefully soon, and cannot decide whether or not to go with a traditional stern drive or the new Volvo Forward Facing drive on the Chaparral Surf gate edition.  Love the idea of being able to wake surf but it's not the only thing I'd want to use the boat for.  I know the Volvo Penta FFD was announced in 2015 on the Chaparrals and from what I've read it's gotten a lot of good press, but I'm wondering if the risk outweighs the benefits.  Does anyone know of scenarios where the prop is damaged getting in out of the water on a boat ramp, or running over something / shallow water, etc.  Being a first time boat owner I don't know how likely it is that a FFD would be damaged.  I'm sure like anything else, if you're careful you can avoid trouble but being a first time boat owner - you don't know what you don't know.  Would love input from anyone who has a FFD or knows much about them.  Thanks!

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I would stick with a mercruiser drive but in any case stick with a traditional facing drive

With a traditional drive the skeg and lower bullet end hit first. Most hits destroy/damage

the prop anyway but a soft strike might not. Foward facing props take the first hit and I bet the prop shaft will be destroyed too

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A lot would depend on how the boat is used, trailed or at a dock and depth and condition of the body of eater you would be in.   I would think stumps or rocky bottom would not be ideal for forward facing drive.

personally I would go with traditional but then I am old school.

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The biggest disadvantage I've seen with the Chaparral surf boats with the forward drive is that the boat sits higher on the trailer, so you have to put it in deeper to launch and load.  Also, the hull is cut back a bit to help create the surf wave so the boat doesn't handle as well in very hard power turns, but handles great in every other situation.  The surf package does add a lot to the price of the boat. 

There are also several advantages to the forward drive surf boats.  First, you can surf behind it, and the surf gates help make an incredible wave.  The new Volvo GM GDI motors are amazing.  Lots of power, closed cooling, easy to maintain and winterize.  The low speed handling is also excellent. 

As far as damage from a collision, it depends on what you hit.  In some cases, the cone on the front of the props hits first, causing the outdrive to kick up and prevents damage to the more expensive gearcase.  If you are looking for the best propulsion for use in shallow water, outboard motors are the best choice.  I personally love the new Yamaha 4 cylinder 200 or Vmax 250 V6 motors on the Chaparral Suncoast and Robalo.

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Is the forward facing drive VERY LIMITED in the full up position ?

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Boating magazine did a fair comparison test in January 17, 2017 between a FFD and a Malibu true wake boat with a V drive. 

Very interesting read.. Equal boat powers & professional wake riders.

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On 6/3/2018 at 8:09 PM, cyclops2 said:

Boating magazine did a fair comparison test in January 17, 2017 between a FFD and a Malibu true wake boat with a V drive. 

Very interesting read.. Equal boat powers & professional wake riders.

Thanks, I read that.  It was informative and helpful.

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On 6/3/2018 at 12:31 PM, Cleaver said:

The biggest disadvantage I've seen with the Chaparral surf boats with the forward drive is that the boat sits higher on the trailer, so you have to put it in deeper to launch and load.  Also, the hull is cut back a bit to help create the surf wave so the boat doesn't handle as well in very hard power turns, but handles great in every other situation.  The surf package does add a lot to the price of the boat. 

There are also several advantages to the forward drive surf boats.  First, you can surf behind it, and the surf gates help make an incredible wave.  The new Volvo GM GDI motors are amazing.  Lots of power, closed cooling, easy to maintain and winterize.  The low speed handling is also excellent. 

As far as damage from a collision, it depends on what you hit.  In some cases, the cone on the front of the props hits first, causing the outdrive to kick up and prevents damage to the more expensive gearcase.  If you are looking for the best propulsion for use in shallow water, outboard motors are the best choice.  I personally love the new Yamaha 4 cylinder 200 or Vmax 250 V6 motors on the Chaparral Suncoast and Robalo.

Thank you Cleaver.  That is most helpful.  Much appreciated!

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Assume that, like us, you are in GA. All lakes in the state are dammed up rivers, with lots of stumps and stuff to hit after every rainstorm. The question is not “if” but “when” you hit something and damage the drive. Being that you are a new boater, pretty good odds that “when” happens soon and often. 

I understand the desire to go wake surfing. If that is key, I would pick a different boat.

brick

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Stumps & boulders would have me buying  a true V drive driveshaft & prop boat The FFD ARE DESIGNED  to SNAP OFF at the hull bottom on a strong impact Go buy a new complete lower drive unit.

A shaft drive prop job is quite durable & cheap to repair or replace. A true DIY job after the first time.  1 shaft, strut & prop.  Done 

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Two seasons ago I saw a Cobalt R5 that was driven 20 feet onto the beach at cruising speed with a FFD.  Nothing "snapped off", but the aluminum transom and backing plate got bent and had to be replaced.  I also just saw a new vdrive Axis T22 two weeks ago that was driven up onto a sandbar that needed a new propshaft, prop, strut, rudder, tracking fins, drive plate and fiberglass repair from stress cracks (and scratches from rocking on the sandbar all night until it was towed off) that needed a little over 10 thousand in repairs.  The Chaparral vortex jet boats are also a good choice for shallow water running.  I drove a new 2430 Chaparral with twin BRP ROTAX 250 motors that was pretty amazing.  It is currently the fastest 24 foot open bow in production and you can have it set up for surfing too.

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Those boats need new drivers. More than just new parts.

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After all the input on Volvo's forward facing drive (some positive and some negative) I decided it was the boat for me.  I've had it now for a couple of weeks and it does handle really well, has a lot of power for pulling wakeboarders and handles the chop on Lake Lanier with no trouble. Wish me luck! 

IMG_9967.JPG

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Sharp!!  Is that the 227?  Let us know how it surfs.

Congrats and enjoy!

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It's the Chap 257 SSX Surf Edition.  I wasn't really wanting one quite that big but it had the seating configuration I really liked and it has a bathroom on it... so what's a few extra feet right? :)

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You made the smart choice going bigger.  You have the bsyhroom and have already had your first attack of 2 footitis.   Great looking boat and good luck to ya!

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11 hours ago, Georgia Girl said:

After all the input on Volvo's forward facing drive (some positive and some negative) I decided it was the boat for me.  I've had it now for a couple of weeks and it does handle really well, has a lot of power for pulling wakeboarders and handles the chop on Lake Lanier with no trouble. Wish me luck! 

IMG_9967.JPG

Very nice color, too.  Congratulations and be safe out there.  Being new to boating definitely has its challenges.  I'm guessing being on a lake is MUCH easier to learn on than in the ocean like me!  Yesterday we splashed the boat for the first time since the 2016 season and with 3 seasons under my belt, everything went great until I got to the marina and tried docking at the main dock so we can find our slip first before entering.  Current and wind took the boat where I did not want it to go, couldn't do anything to correct it, almost plowed into a $1 million yacht and I was humbled in less than 1/2 a second lol.

If you can take the USCG seamanship & safety course and have someone who's experienced go out with you for the first few times, it will help a lot.

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31 minutes ago, Hatem said:

Very nice color, too.  Congratulations and be safe out there.  Being new to boating definitely has its challenges.  I'm guessing being on a lake is MUCH easier to learn on than in the ocean like me!  Yesterday we splashed the boat for the first time since the 2016 season and with 3 seasons under my belt, everything went great until I got to the marina and tried docking at the main dock so we can find our slip first before entering.  Current and wind took the boat where I did not want it to go, couldn't do anything to correct it, almost plowed into a $1 million yacht and I was humbled in less than 1/2 a second lol.

If you can take the USCG seamanship & safety course and have someone who's experienced go out with you for the first few times, it will help a lot.

Thanks.  I hear ya about docking at the marina.  I'm practicing every weekend and it's not easy.  Throw winds and current in there and forget about it!!  I'm looking into the Coast guard course for sure.  Thanks!

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LOVE the 257.  Beautiful boat, in and out.  Be sure to wax the color above the rub rail plenty.  It will fade much faster than below . . . and your color choice is great, IMO.

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