Chris-Craft Launch 28GT

Old meets new in Chris-Craft’s Launch 28 GT, which is sure to turn heads.

Power & Motor Yacht - - NEW BOATS - —Si­mon Murray

Chris-Craft boats have come a long way from the wooden run­abouts of old. While we can pine for a time be­fore the fiber­glass rev­o­lu­tion and mass pro­duc­tion, the prac­ti­cal­i­ties and sharp styling of Chris-Craft’s new boats can­not be over­stated. En­ter the Launch 28 GT. Chris-Craft is po­si­tion­ing its new bowrider as a Swiss Army knife, which tends to be mar­ket­ing speak for a mul­ti­pur­pose boat that can han­dle all types of in­ter­ests—be it en­ter­tain­ing, swim­ming or tow­ing kids—or one with trans­form­ing ameni­ties. The 28 GT is both. Its ameni­ties are nu­mer­ous and var­ied, in­clud­ing a re­versible sun­pad that moves for­ward and aft (the trans­form­ing part), to cre­ate both com­fort­able seat­ing in the cock­pit or a larger sunbed when re­lax­ing.

If you’re a Chris-Craft tra­di­tion­al­ist, you might want to stop read­ing now. Un­like other mod­els in this line, the 28 GT has been de­signed from the hull up for out­board propul­sion (though a stern- drive is also an op­tion). De­pend­ing on your pref­er­ence and how fast you want to push the 28, it can be equipped with a 350-hp Mer­cury Ver­ado, a 350-hp Yamaha or a 425-hp Yamaha. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the first time you see an out­board slapped to the tran­som, it’s got a cus­tom Chris-Craft painted en­gine that matches the hull color (see above). It’s an at­trac­tive ad­di­tion cos­met­i­cally, and a nice re­buke to those who feel an out­board tar­nishes a boat’s je ne sais quoi.

I’d be re­miss if I didn’t point out that there is a third power op­tion, of sorts. With the “Wakesurf­ing Pack­age,” own­ers can get a for­ward drive in­stead of the stan­dard stern drive, with a GPS speed con­troller and Su­per Surf ’R tab sys­tem. In what I imag­ine must be a rare over­lap for those wake­board­ing and Chris-Craft en­thu­si­asts out there, this is the boat they’ve been wait­ing their whole lives for.

But the in­no­va­tive ad­di­tions don’t stop with the power. Like the larger of­fer­ings in the Ca­lypso and Catalina lines, the 28 GT comes with a dive door—a first for Chris-Craft’s run­about range—plus three swim

lad­ders and tran­som ac­cess, of­fer­ing easy egress from the wa­ter. Sit­ting at the helm, I was at­tracted to the wheel, which has a nice in­ter­play of varnished ma­hogany and leather stitch­ing; a well-placed, ac­cented touch. The helm comes stan­dard with a Garmin elec­tron­ics pack­age, Fu­sion stereo sys­tem and cus­tom retro gauges, blend­ing to­gether new with the old in har­mo­nious styling.

Fi­nally, the ele­phant on the dock: the elec­tri­cally ac­cen­tu­ated hard top. Ac­cord­ing to Stephen Julius, strate­gic ad­vi­sor of Chris-Craft, the com­pany spent 18 months de­vel­op­ing the 28 GT and “a de­cent chunk of it went into how we de­sign and in­te­grate that hard top.” If you’re an owner look­ing to spend time with your kids out on the wa­ter, the hard top with a tow bar is likely a wel­come ad­di­tion. But for ev­ery­one else, the hard top is a nice cov­er­ing with a can­vas shade that ex­tends aft, of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion for those sit­ting in the cock­pit, too. It also folds down elec­tron­i­cally—a nice touch when trai­ler­ing, stor­ing or for the odd bridge clear­ance. “We’ve never spent this long de­sign­ing a boat,” said Julius. “We wanted to in­clude ev­ery sin­gle prac­ti­cal el­e­ment that you would find in a fam­ily day boat.” It shows.

The 28 GT re­veals how much qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and boat­build­ing ex­cel­lence still mat­ter to this builder. The aes­thet­ics and high-qual­ity wood­work­ing—both crafted in-house—are at the fore­front for this new model. The touches of varnished ma­hogany, cross-stitched up­hol­stery in the builder’s new “wave” pat­tern and cus­tom stain­lesssteel fit­tings make the 28 GT a mod­ern twist on a time­less clas­sic. At least, that’s what Chris-Craft is bet­ting on.

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