Captain's Report by Capt. Steve
A Boat on a Mission
Chaparral continues on its mission to build quality sportboats, which are versatile, without pricing itself beyond its competition. And with the Wide-Tech bow, the 226 SSi has enough room to have the adults relaxing at the bow, while the kids are swimming off the stern.
Some Distinguishing Features
Let’s take a look at what separates the 226 SSi from some other boats in class.
Of course this comes from the Wide-Tech bow, but also from the fact that the beam carries so far forward. The footwell at the entrance to the bow cockpit is 23" (58 cm) wide, which is wider than most boats in class. While the well width tapers as it moves forward there is still foot and knee room for two people to sit facing each other in the forward positions. Because of the knee room in the bow you can actually sit four people there, instead of just two as on most sportboats in this class.The U-shaped seating in the cockpit can comfortably seat five or six people, depending on their size. The 226 SSi has a rated capacity for 12 people -- a high number for this size boat -- but in this boat it is actually possible, unlike some others in class.
Chaparral treatment of the versatile sunpad over the engine box has some unusual features. The sunpad is in three sections, one directly over the engine and the other two to port and starboard. The pad can lie flat, or it can be made into a chaise lounge with the back up on the port side.
The starboard pad opens revealing a fiberglass walkway from the stern to the cockpit, and under that is storage. To port, fold the pad back and a 25-quart (23.66 L) portable cooler is revealed. This is a creative use of space and means that if someone wants a soda, you can get one without having a passenger get up to access a cooler under a seat.
The large center cushion lifts to reveal wet storage, and I use the term “wet storage” because it's self-draining over the side. Because of this compartment’s location on top of the engine, it will make a great place to dry your wet towels and swimsuits.
You can feel it in the seats and the carpet. Thicker materials mean longer lasting components. The seats are 36 oz. vinyl (many builders use 30 oz.) and double-stitched so you can expect to have them around for a long time. Chaparral also uses Kevlar in the hull to add strength in vital areas and is one of the few sportboat builders to do so. All hardware, rub rails, fuel cap, and engine room air vents are stainless steel.
This is a feature that extends the running surface well past the collar of the sterndrive lower unit attached to the transom. With added surface area beyond the transom, my tests have shown quicker times to plane, and much less bow rise.
Port and starboard fuel fill.
Both fills lead to a single polyethylene fuel tank. While some may appreciate this feature as you can put the gas dock on either side of the boat, I find that it's more of an advantage to pull the truck and trailer into either side of a fuel pump as those hoses rarely reach across.
Performance and Handling
Moving to the meat and potatoes of the test, I found that she’s a very quick boat on her feet. With the optional 300-hp 5.7 L MerCruiser 350 MAG B3 ($64,615) doing the heavy work, I measured a time to plane of only 2.6 seconds. That quick acceleration continued as I cruised through 20 mph in 4.1 seconds, and passed 30 mph in 6.7 seconds. These are exceedingly fast times for this size and class boat.
What this tells me is that you’ll likely have no problem with the standard Volvo Penta 5.0L 270-hp engine and you should have plenty of power for most applications. However, if you’re the type that likes to load up the boat to max capacity, and have your fill of watersports at the same time, then you’ll have few regrets with the larger 300-hp 5.7 L engine choice.
Of course Mother Nature handed us a no-wind flat calm day for testing, but it’s not hard to create your own waves and the 226 carves quite neatly through them. I took some just off the bow to see if I could get any water on the windshield and failed. Jumping wakes showed that she doesn’t mind catching air, and when I flew across a wake from a side position, I noticed just a little teetering before hitting the water again. In aggressive turns, the kind test captains make, the 226 SSi can take more than your passengers will want. In order to maximize comfort and passenger enjoyment either carve gentle turns or slow down before turning the wheel hard over. With reverse chines she really digs into the turns and hangs on like she’s on rails with no sliding. There is the usual amount of bleed-off in the speed but rest assured that once you straighten out, she’ll launch off in her new direction with vigor.
Since you board from the stern, we’ll start there. The full-beam swim platform comes out 2’ (.61 m) from the transom. Small pull-up cleats are in the corners, which is great for securing the water toys while at anchor without stubbing a toe, or tripping on them when not in use. I love to see a stereo remote at the swim platform as it keeps wet feet off the optional carpet ($669). You wouldn’t walk into your house after getting out of the pool would you? But Chaparral goes one better and that remote is paired with the transom tilt switch, then both are mounted onto a stainless plate, and that gets recessed into a molded spot on the transom. Very classy and convenient on a number of levels. An optional swim platform logo mat is available ($338) for an additional level of non-skid treatment.
The reboarding area is off to starboard and in clear sight of the helm. There's a three-step reboarding ladder with a grab handle at the top, and another grab handle attached to the transom to effortlessly get you onto the swim platform.Of course the real treat is in the sunpad. It measures 3’ (.91 m) x 6’8” (2.03 m) and has a couple of neat features as already mentioned above.
Lastly, it’s important to note that there are fuel fills to both sides of the stern. Some may find this convenient as you can put the fuel dock to either side of the boat, but I find that inconsequential. To me it's much more useful being able to drive the truck and trailer up to a gas pump on either side as those hoses don't usually reach all the way across.
You enter the cockpit from the sunpad walkthrough and step down onto a non-skid seat base. Once inside you can cover up that seat with a padded cushion. I also like the fact that the cap rail has non-skid allowing you to step off from that seat to the cap rail, and on to a fixed pier. The cockpit itself features U-shaped seating with storage under both side seats. Our test boat was fitted with the optional snap-in carpet ($669).
The aft seat lifts to reveal the engine, but storage was not left out of the equation. Just ahead of the engine is a small recessed area that is large enough to accommodate a plastic toolbox, bottles of oil, and rags or paper towels. The engine installation is a little bit cramped but the side bulkheads can be removed easily enough for more intense maintenance requirements. With the bulkheads in place you have additional storage to the sides and the hatch opens wide enough to give you a good look all around the engine for daily checks. The storage under the side sunpads will give you access to the two batteries and the power steering pump.
Our test boat was fitted with the premium bucket seats ($652/pair) and I would not want to consider this boat without them. Aside from the fact that they are very comfortable, they're very easy to operate. Where everyone else has you searching under the seat for the release mechanism to swivel and slide the seats, Chaparral takes a different route. They put the release mechanisms on the top of the seats over where your arms will lie next your legs. Simply pull up a lever to operate the seat, and each lever is labeled very clearly. Both seats also have a flip-up bolsters.
Chaparral went with a classy helm layout with square gauges and chrome bezels. These are part of an optional digital package. With the standard analog gauges there is no room for a GPS.
The ergonomics of the helm are excellent, and I was able to see clearly through the windshield from the seated position, rather than stare at the windshield frame. Everything fell within easy reach and, with the throttle advanced forward, your fingertips will be right next to the optional stereo remote.Our test boat was equipped with the Preferred Package that included a digital depth gauge, the transom tilt switch and stereo remote, helm stereo remote, docking lights, pull-up cleats, stainless steel speaker covers, bow scuff plate and a galvanized anchor ($1,454).
Here is the area where the Wide-Tech really comes into play. When you look at the bow on the trailer the bow comes to a V. But looking at it from above it has the characteristics more consistent with a pickle-fork, or even the squared-off look of a deckboat. Couple this with Chaparral carrying the widest beam well forward and you can start to appreciate how roomy the bow seating actually is. In fact when you go to check out your 226 SSi up close and personal, make sure to install the cockpit table and bring three of the sales staff up to the bow for a seat.
There's storage under both side seats, and I was pleased that the cushions are easy to remove to access the storage. Fully forward is another cushion that lifts to reveal a built-in insulated cooler that drains overboard. The forepeak area features a large non-skid platform which makes boarding from the bow quite easy. In the center of the two pickle-forks is a good-sized anchor locker complete with an anchor keeper, so your Danforth won’t be rattling around inside the compartment.
If you're going to get a boat with this much class it makes sense to me to add some of the optional packages. Some that I have not yet discussed are the following:A Preferred Package includes docking lights, eight pull-up cleats, stainless steel speaker grills, and bow scuff plate, digital depth gauge, stereo remote and helm stereo remote, and a galvanized anchor.I'm always a big fan of having dual batteries ($431) and Chaparral’s include a crossover switch. If you're heavy into water toys then why not include an air pump ($132).The Chaparral 226 SSi has a base price of $59,202 when fitted with the 270-hp Volvo Penta V8-270C, and fitted like our test boat it has a retail price of $64,615. What you get for that money is a premium boat, with excellent looks, styling, and very good performance.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Chaparral 226 SSi (2012-) is 54.4 mph (87.5 kph), burning 24.55 gallons per hour (gph) or 92.92 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Chaparral 226 SSi (2012-) is 27.6 mph (44.4 kph), and the boat gets 3.91 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.66 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 193 miles (310.6 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 300-hp Mercury 350 MAG.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|