Author: Alan Jones
With your luck, when you finally pull off your first successful 1080, the driver will be looking ahead like he’s supposed to, your observer will be changing a song on the iPod and everyone else on board will be sitting facing forward. That’s not going to happen on the Supra Launch 242.
Although actually wakeboarding or wakesurfing is a blast, at least half the fun of watersports is spectating. After all, the observers are the ones who get to see the expression on your face as you prepare to eat the big one. On most boats, there are only a few prime skier-watching seats, but the Supra Launch 242 isn’t most boats. Its Sport Seating arrangement means observers never miss the show, because the backrest pads flip up on the port settee and in the walk-through to the bow, to create a total of six rearward-facing seats, counting the seat at the tip of its pointy bow. The forward-facing bow seats could use a little more recline, but a clever feature is the flip-up seat pad that gives you three-abreast seating in front.
Tubing is incredibly popular, and the inventive new models make it a sport that’s not just for kids anymore (see our Tube Test feature starting on page 50). The problem is where to store the tube when you aren’t using it. If you stow it on the swim platform, it interferes with skiing. You could park it on shore until it’s time to use it, but you run the risk of someone stealing it. We actually had that happen and had to chase the “perps” to retrieve it (they said they thought it was abandoned). Supra adds an option called the Z5 Cargo Bimini, which is a storage rack on top of the Bimini that can hold inflated tubes and boards of all kinds. It even tilts down for easier access.
At the helm is a feature all boats should have: a standard electric adjustable-height captain’s seat that can accommodate a wide range of drivers — from vertically challenged to vertically gifted. Great care was taken to position the Teleflex drive-by-wire throttle for fatigue-free driving.
Powering our test boat is the Indmar 345 hp Assault CAT 5.7L V-8 with a catalytic converter, for 92 percent fewer harmful emissions, a real plus for wakesurfing and similar close-in work. The Assault won an NMMA Innovation Award at IBEX for being the first ski-boat engine designed for the rigors of wakesurfing. Because this fastest-growing wake sport is done at slow speeds, the engine spends a great deal of time at a pronounced bow-up angle, so Indmar designed an air-oil separator that prevents oil induction to the PCV during prolonged wakesurfing sessions.
It hooked up brilliantly, as we got on plane in 3.6 seconds and to 30 mph in only 5.8 seconds. Top speed was a respectable 42.9 mph. The optional engine above this one is the 420 hp Indmar model, which will come in handy if you’re pulling multiple skiers or looking for a little more attitude.
Although this is the biggest boat in the Supra fleet at 24 feet, 1 inch, the 242’s handling is excellent. Even without a massive amount of power, the bowrise was incredibly small, owing partly to a cab-forward design that gives you an incredible amount of cockpit seating in the round. We could reduce the time to plane to less than 3 seconds by engaging the Multisport Electric Smartplate, which is a giant center tab that allows the driver to trim the boat like a sterndrive, which was a big help in the chop on Lake Lanier, which is 59 square miles.
Dual tracking fins keep the Supra pointed where you want to go, and when it comes time to turn, at least the driver has the wheel to hang onto.
With the Ballast III-v configuration, which gives you 1,700 pounds of jump juice, wake-building isn’t a problem. The Launch 242 is the only Supra to give you the standard configuration of three bags (two in the stern and one in the bow) as well as a belly tank. The result is a huge, clean wake that can be shaped by using the Smartplate. For surfing, having a left and right stern tank allows you to choose which side to build up. And although wake-building is its forte, when the 242 has its wake plate deployed, slalom skiers get a serviceably small wake to zip across.
With room for 17 people, the boat needs extreme storage, and there are twin compartments under the sunpad for bulky items. Flipping up the starboard sunpad reveals a walk-through into the cockpit that saves you having to tread on the Syntec knit-back 360 Stretch Vinyl with a stain-resistant topcoat. Although the under-seat storage compartments are bulkheaded, the port console offers a longer compartment. I know most ski boats have the same thing, but I wish all the under-seat storage didn’t require lifting off the entire seat bottom. There are 14 cupholders scattered throughout the boat, but the driver’s holder is near the deck, making it difficult to use while driving.
The Supra line differs from its sister brand, Moomba, by bundling a host of features as standards. Moomba goes more a la carte. The Launch series takes this to the extreme by giving you not just what you need but also what you really want. And it does it without blowing your bottom line into six figures. All your launch-control essentials are in place: ballast, Smartplate and even the Vision display that allows you to store rider preferences and automatically configure your boat with the push of a button. It also has GPS mapping and Zero Off cruise control. A trailer comes standard as well. So what does that leave for potential options? The 345 hp Assault is an $1,875 upcharge over the 330 hp standard motor, but if surfing is in the picture, it’s a must-have. Although a Cipa full-size mirror is included, a Cipa Extreme tournament mirror is a good upgrade. You can take the 242 to the next level by choosing the Worlds package with extreme graphics, a blinged-up trailer and tower speakers with a light bar.