Boat Reviews

Carpe Diem Chaparral 287 SSX

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Carpe Diem Chaparral 287 SSX

Very few manufacturers have a lineup like Chaparral’s – and there are even fewer boats which can be compared to this big watersports craft. The company says that falling in love with the 287 takes less than a minute – but let’s be honest; who would really be able to resist her even that long?

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the chance to drive the latest Chaparrals to enter the country – and like reports of every other which has been made, one thing that stands out about these American sport boats is their level of quality which is consistently first-class. The overall package is absolutely exquisite from top to bottom and from front to back and it’s evident that there has simply been no compromise in the company’s efforts to make the very best boat they possibly can. The fact is, you would have to be digging deep and seriously splitting hairs to find a fault with what the company is producing; and the 287 SSX follows this top-quality pedigree.

On paper, there’s no doubt that the Chaparral 287 is a worthwhile purchase – but if you could purchase one, should you? The Editor takes a closer look at this craft in Gordon’s Bay in the Western Cape.

Deck layout
If you think the 287 is big, you’d be mistaken. It is huge! And don’t for a second think that it’s cut from the same cloth as other bow riders. This Chaparral will tip the financial scale quite a bit, but it’s no entry-level craft. What it actually is, is a premium-quality pleasure craft, bursting at the seams with standard features and it shows the company’s innovation to flow big boat trends into bowrider style.

At the stern there’s a generous-sized platform with a hidden boarding ladder as well as a transom remote for the sound system. You’re also greeted by a huge sun lounger with a shared back rest for the stern cockpit seat. The backrest can be hinged towards the cockpit, turning the sun pad into a vast, rear-facing chaise lounge to watch the kids in the water, or a flat bed for three to bake in the sun. A neat gateway on the port-side here can be closed off for safety reasons while also concealing the electrical cut-off terminals. Just forward of here, note the cool cold box stored in the gunwale which could house an optional fridge if you wanted one.

There’s plenty of space in the side U-shaped seating, encompassing the large cocktail table and is alongside the mini counter top which has two hidden, built-in sinks and is equipped with running water and storage space below. Moving forward, you’ll find the co-pilot seat and a dual skippers’ seating which flanks the centre deck storage hatch – which allows you to keep a ski, wakeboard, boat covers and perhaps even a small planet, all at the same time.

At the helm, there is more than enough to play with – even if you’re a Boeing pilot! Buttons, switches, dials, and gauges are done tastefully and practically, making you feel like you’re in charge of a true performance machine. The steering wheel, like the throttle, is positioned comfortably for the skipper – and is tilt adjustable to ensure you can easily see the neat Garmin chart plotter. I noted that, although the windscreen is long and at a low angle, it was built just right to not obstruct my vision forward.

The bow is similar to most bow riders but still different. Like many, the windscreen and doorway can be closed off for maximum protection in the cockpit, but unlike others, you find the second access for the centre deck-hatch. The seating here keeps with the rest of the craft in being plush and luxurious, perfectly stitched, and comfortably styled with drink holders and side cushioning, and there’s storage space below. However, a nice add-on I would’ve liked, would be fold-back armrests.

Exacting details have been thought about in the 287 – like the magnetic centre windscreen holder, clip-in carpeting, the option to install shields if the weather gets ‘iffy’, a sound system which would make a club look silly, deck lights for an elegant look and much, much more. With all that there is, the package comes together as something that’s absolutely brilliant. However, there are three things I’m not at ease with about the 287 SSX; one is the hinged tops for the counters on the Port side preparation area which, if you leave them open, it could cause some scuff marks on them; number two is that the windscreen wiper could’ve been bigger, but let’s face it, could’ve been left off altogether; and lastly, the boat’s key, which, although less than impressive-looking, I’d rather have keyless ignition for a boat of this class. These aside, and there’s no reason you can’t look past them, the 287 SSX is a top-notch boat with heaps of bells and whistles and is built to a quality level which is probably one above the top. This level can’t even have a name yet since I think Chaparral only just pioneered the way into it!

Push a button and the stern lounger automatically lifts to reveal the massive 8.2-litre MAG MerCruiser – and it’s suddenly easily to believe why this boat has got so much in the power department. Good for 430 HP, this inboard swings the Bravo 3 sterndrive with duoprop which negates prop walk and torque and assists in keeping the boat stable in low-speed manoeuvres. The hull has a sharp entry with a steep deadrise – this is a proven design which offers a smooth and dry ride. Such is Chaparral’s confidence, they offer a lifetime warranty on the hull that’s made from Kevlar, so this will give you complete peace of mind.

On the water, the 287 SSX uses the extended hull design which is said to give you better pull-offs and a smoother ride due to the longer running surface on the water. It requires some adjustments on a blustery day, twin trim tabs can be used – but the craft ran sweetly and stable enough on our review day to not need them. The craft gets onto the plane quickly and easily without jerking and the deep-V hull cuts through the water without hesitation.

Tight turns is where the 287 feels much smaller – doing what I have on 21-footers and feeling confident in each swing of the wheel. This is a fast boat when you need her to be. Crank the throttles forward and you’ll reach around 47 knots (87 km/h) and running hot like molten lava. But, given you own a 287 and are important enough for people to wait for you, throttle to around 3000 rpm (around 25 knots) and the craft is even more comfortable and surprisingly light on fuel considering her size.

Whether she was built to or not, this boat is always going to impress – and I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about arriving at the harbour to find another 287. Although she’s worth every penny, this craft is going to be a very rare sight on the water. Exclusivity has its price; and in this case, it’s at around R1.6 mil as you see her here. But, if you’re in the market for a 28-foot, ultimate executive’s bowrider that exudes power and sophistication, I can’t imagine there’s much better to see than the 287. “Seize the day” is what many people live by, and rest assured that you will on board a 287 SSX. For more information contact Clinton at Honda Motor Southern Africa on 082 567 8058.


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