Chaparral 246 SSi SURF

Collaborative effort advances surfability.

by Alan Wendt
Any kid will tell you that a highlight of a trip to Disney World includes taking a contorted selfie with Goofy.


  • LOA: 24'6"
  • Beam: 8'6"
  • Draft: 29'"/25"
  • Weight: 4,400 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 64 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 10 gals.
  • Power: 350 hp
  • Price: Contact dealer

Any kid will tell you that a highlight of a trip to Disney World includes taking a contorted selfie with Goofy.

For five-time world FlowRider champ Sean Silveira, who calls Orlando home, the “goofy” he was seeking came just a few feet behind Chaparral’s new 246 SSi SURF. 

Chaparral licensed Surf Gate wake-shaping technology from Malibu Boats. The result is a hybrid boat for the recreation market that can create a near perfect wake for surfing while also providing a quintessential option for coving.

Throw down tricks

Silveira is among the first of the pro watersport riders to jump in Lake Bryan at Paradise Cove; they are here to try out the Chaparral equipped with Volvo Penta’s 350-hp Forward Drive system.

 “Dude,” shouts a fellow rider, “Throw down some tricks.” 

For the next 10 minutes, Silveira puts on a show, demonstrating tricks like a Big Alley-oop, a 360 Shuvit, and, after a couple of attempts, a 540 Shuvit. Each trick is met with applause, whoops of astonishment and a big grin on Silveira ’s bearded face. Even transfers — switching the wave from port (known as the regular side) to starboard (known as the goofy side) — are executed with precision and little hesitation.

“So I take it the wave passes inspection?” I ask Silveira, as he towels off on the 2-foot-wide swim platform. 

“Just needs some forward ballast to clean up some wash at the top of the wave, and I think they’ve nailed it,” the champ offers, endorsing a boat that’s been under development for nearly six years.

Collaborative effort

“We first looked at this concept many years ago,” notes Chaparral’s Mike Fafard, senior VP of engineering, “but the technology wasn’t there and we couldn’t get the wave just right. When Malibu introduced the Surf Gate technology, we approached them for a licensing deal; they accepted, and that’s when the real engineering began.”

That was two years and many hull modifications ago. Care was given to maintaining the swim platform with the Surf Gate and not making it cumbersome to trailer. What makes this story and boat extra special is the collaborative effort between competing boatbuilders and the engine manufacturer, which led to design improvements for all parties and beneficial tweaks for Surf Gate.  

Surf Gate works through two tabs, which are placed on the port and starboard sides of the transom. With the push of a button, drivers can activate one tab at a time, fill the centerline ballast and instantly switch the wake to either port or starboard sides.

Just for the record, wakesurfing is the fastest growing watersport in the U.S., up 25 percent each year. Wakesurfing is more social than waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding. You are, after all, just 10 feet from the transom of the towboat, so interaction with the surfer and passengers is immediate. Wakesurfers are only moving at about 10 mph, so wipe-outs have far less impact compared to being towed in a tube at 23 mph. Chaparral also discovered that the flower children of the 60s — who may remember when surfing behind a boat was first introduced — are among today’s biggest wakesurfing enthusiasts, right next to their grandchildren. Admit it: If owning a boat makes the grandkids more likely to spend the weekend with you, this bribery tactic is fair game.

The wave secret

Part of the secret to creating a perfect wave is found at the helm. Using Medallion’s Viper display, the driver operates simple touch-screen controls to fill the centerline ballast tanks, dial in the trim and get ready to surf. Because of its positioning, the Volvo Forward Drive adds to the ballast and wave curl. 

In addition to this wave-making technology, the boat follows Chaparral’s award-winning design and signature style, which includes features such as stainless steel hardware, premium vinyl and custom molded fiberglass side panels. 

Storage is abundant, including a large area underneath the aft sun lounger, ideal for storing deflated tubes, towropes or life jackets. One thoughtful feature on our test boat was a built-in inflator under the port seat, which solves the age-old watersport storage problem and prevents Dad from running out of air in his lungs.

The layout is typical for a boat this size, with open concept seating, a large swim platform and a walk-thru transom on both port and starboard. The aft sundeck has a chaise lounge, while forward bow loungers are ideal for unwinding during a slow sightseeing cruise around the lake. Tucked discreetly between the bow seating and port bucket seat is an enclosed fiberglass head with porta-pottie and port light. The SURF package includes a watersports tower that folds down for towing or storing in the garage. 

Not to be overlooked is the generous warranty on this and every Chaparral: A standard, limited lifetime hull warranty. All new 2017 models also come with a five-year premier level limited component warranty. 

Clearly aimed at the middle market that wants versatility to wakesurf one minute and cruise the next — while pleasing every generation on-board — Chaparral’s 246 SSi SURF should be on your must see and drive list this summer. 

South Shore JUN17