For years wakesurfing has been the fastest growing watersport. At first, it was the exclusive domain of direct-drive ski boats; they get the job done but typically have a top speed of less than 40 mph. Conventional sterndrive boats have great performance but their exposed props behind the boat make surfing a no-go. Then came Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive. It allows boats such as the Cobalt R7 Surf we tested to produce a really long wave with lots of push, and it puts the props well under the hull.
Our test boat featured the 380 hp version of Volvo Penta’s 6.0L V-8, which can be pushed to 430 hp or demoted to 350 hp. Forward Drive’s twin forward-facing props provided plenty of bite and got the 27-and-a-half-footer on plane in 3.1 seconds. Especially impressive was its zero-to-30-mph time of 5.4 seconds, and it reached a top speed of 48.9 mph, which is not ski boat-like. A sharp 21 degrees of deadrise and an extended running surface gave it a smooth ride over choppy Table Rock Lake in Missouri.
Cobalt’s Easy Surf electronic control system makes it as simple as possible to go surfing. The driver can simply use the ballast sliders on the standard Garmin 7607 touchscreen display to fill the hard tanks with 1,225 pounds of ballast, and they fill on the move, so captain and crew can head to their surfing spot while the tanks ballast up. Then, to surf, simply select left or right and the Surf Tabs automatically deploy. They only work when the boat’s going 14 mph or less, so nobody can accidentally cause the big tabs to engage, which could cause a loss of control. With the tanks full, the boat can get on plane quickly if the driver selects the Performance Mode tab, which puts both tabs down.
Cobalt is a super-premium brand, so the R7 Surf’s MSRP is $180,431 with the Volvo Penta 380 hp sterndrive, but that’s not out of line when it’s compared to MasterCraft’s smaller X26, which carries a $171,430 price tag. The R7 Surf is loaded with standard features, including a Flip Down Swim Step, a premium six-speaker stereo and a stainless steel/aluminum watersports tower with a Sunshade, but buyers can customize it with an extensive list of options. At the top of that list are an electronic porcelain head ($2,278), a transom shower ($681) and wakeboard racks ($1,781).