Mark Rothfield | Welcome wake-up call from Cobalt

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: The Cobalt R5 WSS is designed to make wake surfing simple.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: The Cobalt R5 WSS is designed to make wake surfing simple.

JUST when it seemed that lunatics would be running the American asylum, Kansas-based Cobalt Boats has developed a mid-sized wake-surfing bowrider called the R5 WSS that’s decidedly smarter than the average voter.

WSS stands for Wake Surfing Simple but it takes considerable design sophistication to make it so. At the push of a button you can tailor your very own left- or right-hand wave that runs for as long as you like on a lake near you.

Compare that with ocean surfing, where it takes 40 minutes of paddling to catch a four second wave, only to get punched in the face by a long-haired university drop-out who thinks he owns the break. Or a shark nibbles your board.

The R5 WSS has a 26-foot (7.8 metre) deep-vee hull with 21-degrees deadrise that’s coupled to Volvo Penta’s funky forward-facing sterndrive propulsion system. You can marry this with a choice of V8 petrol engines from 300 to 430 horsepower.

To engage wake surfing mode the skipper fills the water ballast tanks, sets the GPS-linked cruise control to the desired speed, then dials a left or right wake that the trim tabs automatically maintain. There is no need to transfer ballast load between tanks.

When you’re done, the R5 can quickly revert to performance guise. The surf tabs deploy for a quick transition to planing speed, even with full tanks. Underfloor fuel capacity is 189 litres, which should last a full day.  

There’s on-board seating for up to 14 people, while optional amenities including a toilet, ski tower, transom shower, swim platform lighting, right through to an air compressor for inflatables. Trailers are another option for the 2.2-tonne hull. Base price for the R5 WSS is around $170,000 but once optioned you’re looking at $199,000. That’s a lot, yes, but still better than a smack in the face from a university drop-out.  

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, Cobalt also has a 23-footer designated the R3 that makes a stunningly good family bowrider. The hull has the same 21-degree vee for a soft ride, and a trailer-friendly 2.59-metre beam, but the cockpit is deceptively large thanks to narrow coamings. 

Seating capacity is for 12, though rarely would you want that many – especially if they’re Republicans. 

V8 engine options again range from 300hp to 430hp, with Volvo Penta’s lightweight 5.3-litre 300hp powerplant offering perfectly reasonable performance with a Duoprop leg. Kevlar reinforcement combined with a fibreglass stringer system allow you to push the hull hard. The helm station is a beauty, boasting a leather-bound wheel and aluminium dash panel, upon which the Volvo multifunction digital gauges are neatly displayed. You also get a figure-hugging driver’s seat.

The first R3 to land in Australia this month sported a host of extras, from fancy graphics and wood dash accent, to a white folding tower and teak dinette table. Sticker price for the R3 is $129,000 with 300hp Volvo Penta, to which you have to add a trailer. For that you’re getting a top-shelf luxury runabout that’s certainly hard to trump.

LUXURY: The R3 bowrider is a top-shelf runabout.

LUXURY: The R3 bowrider is a top-shelf runabout.