The Honda Empire Strikes back
The Avalanche 230 fitted with a BF250 motor is not only Honda’s flagship engine, but it’s their warship boat too! Avalanche has been available for six years – and having done enough proving hours for Honda means that this is the true Leader of the Empire…
The outboard-powered Avalanche 230 has been available in South Africa since 2008. In my opinion, she is the most underrated product (and South African built at that) since the Biltong slicer.
In fact, she first caught my eye in the beginning of 2009 due to the fact that she had a brilliantly designed deck which saw the amount of space on board being like the inside of the Death Star! Added to that was her on-the-water performance – which was pretty electric! But things have changed and time has moved on… She could be the high-school sweetheart which, after a few years, has become vegan and lives in a trailer park! I keep an open mind as I meet up with this old flame for a review in Port Alfred.
I’m glad to report that there seems to have only really been slight tweaks made to this craft since we last met. She’s got long, sleek lines to complement her 23 feet of length and the quality, additional wake tower shows her sporty side.
Inside the craft there’s oodles of space for passengers and gear and you can look forward to seating 10 of your friends for comfy sundowners come summer evenings. A huge wrap-around seat extends from behind the skipper to the Port-side binnacle with the small exception of a walk-through section on the Starboard-side of the engine bay. For teenage daughters with a dad who would allow it, a small lounger at the stern is the perfect pad for some sun!
The Oxygen wake tower has an optional sun canopy to keep you feeling as cool as you look! Built for fun on the water, the 230 does throw out an average wake for social skiers, and will be plenty of fun when tubing! Or simply add some weight to the craft and pump up the wake for more air time. At the bow of this craft, you’ll find seating for another four passengers and like most decent craft today, storage space for the whole days activities plus Ol’ Julius’ ego! The vast storage capabilities of this craft are largely owed to this inner beam being the widest in its class (that’s according to Honda), and the deepest free board. And more cup holders than you’d find at a nerdy college frat party when the guys are too nervous to dance.
Ski’s onboard have their place in the ski locker, which is neatly hidden by the comfy, clip-on carpeting – which is nice, since you can quickly remove it if you’re afraid to get it dirty. As you might expect, a neat preparation table for some cream cheese and biscuits can be easily installed at the stern, when you need it. The skipper’s helm is neat with a streak of gauges across the dash and a switch panel which contours the fibreglass work.
This Avalanche 230 is powered by Honda’s biggest engine yet, the 3.6-litre, 250HP 4-stroke. This type of power is almost biblical, and I think it is even referred to in Phil 4:13, “The task in front of you is nothing compared to the power behind you”. Since this is an all-new engine, taking a closer look at her is as important as the boat review. Among other things, this powerhouse has Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (V-TEC), which, according to the manufacturer, allows for outstanding torque at all speeds. And this it does, since you really can feel a surge of power throughout the increase in acceleration. The V-TEC system utilises mild cam lobes to operate intake valves at low rpm, then engages a high-output lobe for higher-rpm operation. The exclusive design provides power that you can really feel – at slower and higher speeds.
The patented Boosted Low Speed Torque (BLAST) system contributes to strong and fast hole shots – meaning the engine can really get up and go when you need her to. In fact, you might want to hold on tight when giving this engine the full beans from the get-go because what BLAST does is it advances the ignition spark timing during “hammer down” acceleration. Simultaneously, the Engine Control Module (ECM) steps in to increase injector timing to create a more potent air/fuel mixture to produce available torque. These do not come into effect under normal throttle adjustments so that the motor is kept running as efficiently as possible.
Also improving your fuel economy, Lean Burn Control (ECOmo) automatically and seamlessly adjusts the air/fuel mixture according to speed and load while maximising power. Honda claims this system provides as much as 20% greater fuel efficiency in cruising mode (2 000-4 500 rpm). This I can believe, since Honda motors are noted for being of the most frugal world-wide. Like an illegal street racer, we dragged the Avalanche 230 along the 500-metre stretch from bridge to bridge inside the first wake zone along Port Alfred’s Kowie river, and achieved a top speed on the GPS of 86 km/h – which is very fast for that much boat! We ran out ‘wake zone’, but the 230 should reach speeds up to 96 km/h. We burnt through 4.99 km of water before we knew it, and somewhere along there, I nearly needed a change of undies when Ian Hurlimann, the boat’s builder, told me to “hold tight!”. I’ve heard this so many times before, but as he wedged himself into the skippers’ chair, I rethought my grip. The boat whipped around and my tonsils said a quick “howzit” to my ear as they seemed to meet for a split-second. There was minimal cavitation on the way out of the corner but it was by far the tightest corner I’ve ever seen.
While you won’t be doing corners like that, it’s good to know the boat can handle them. And the high gunnels and windscreens means you’ll feel protected – if not in corners, then at least from the wind! The manufacturer claims that the Avalanche range of boats is one of two in SA which has a hull design to incorporate a Delta Plane – which lends itself to giving the boat a stable ride during speed with less spray outwards. There is a built-in fuel tank under the deck which holds 140 litres.
The Avalanche 230 is a great boat. Well built, decently finished, kitted out for a quality look, and has a brilliantly designed interior. She’s everything I want her to be, but yet, she’s not that special thing I fell for back in 2009. She’s a new beast and packs a hell of a lot more than I remember – all at a fair value for money too; around R400 000 for the base package with a Honda BF250. Measuring in at 23 foot for the boat alone, it’s too big to fit in my small garage – but rest assured the Force is strong with this one! The Avalanche range is now sold exclusively through Honda agents. For more information contact your nearest authorised Honda dealer.