Flame On ::: Trailer Boats
Stretching 26 feet in
new 263 Sunesta sets
the water on fire with
and full-sized fun
here’s the fire, buddy?” teases the man at the gas station where I’m filling up Chaparral’s
big new 263 Sunesta deck boat. “Man! That’s a good-looking boat,” he exclaims with a
whistle, admiring her fire-engine-red, tow-tone gelcoat that glistens in the morning sun.
“Where ya’ headed.”
“Out to give her a shakedown,” I reply. “She’s got Volvo Penta’s new 5.7L GXi DuoProp that
puts out 315 hp, so she should run as strong as if she had a big-block 454. We’re doing a test for
Trailer Boats, so we’ll put her through the wringer and see how she fares.”
With a friendly wave, I slip into the cab of Trailer Boats’ Ford f-250 Super Duty project truck,
and ease this 54-foot-long, 12,900-pound rig into traffic. Despite her length, our 263 Sunesta –
which perches on a white-painted-steel Zieman trailer with UFP Trailer Buddy disc brakes on both
axles – tows surprisingly well. Through heavy L.A. traffic enroute to and from our offices, and
along open roads out to Southern California’s Lake Perris, we log more than 200 miles pulling the
queen of Chaparral’s deck boat fleet. Fortunately, due to the boat’s relatively low profile, she’s an
Launching at Lake Perris, I back the 263 Sunesta off the trailer, and am pleased with the
docking maneuverability offered by the extra blade area of Volvo’s DuoProp drive. The counterrotating wheels offer plenty of bite during holeshot, too – which is immediately noticeable during
our acceleration tests. Under a light load of two adults, test gear and one-third fuel, the Chaparral
jumps for 0 to 30 mph in 7.0 seconds. That’s good for a 26x8 1/2-footer that checks in dry at 4600
pounds. Bow rise in minimal, also – which is something every skipper will appreciate.
Thanks to Volvo Penta’s new juiced-up 5.7L GXi with fuel injection, top end is equally gratifying,
as we record sustained speeds of 46.8 mph, and see a peak radar reading of 47.7 mph. However,
since this type of boat will tend to accumulate gear and carry a much bigger crowd, we wondered
if performance-oriented party animals might be happier with one of the new, big-block
MerCruiser or Volvo 8.1L packages that deliver up to 375 hp.
On the other hand, our boat’s low-end pull and midrange response are quite good with the 315
hp small-block. She’s punchy throughout the throttle range, and seems plenty strong enough to
pull skiers, riders or tubers. So, if you don’t plan on maxing out the boat with people, skis and
party favors, the 5.7L GXi is a solid choice.
Much to our delight, Chaparral’s Extended V-Plane hull takes to Perris’ notorious af-