Choosing Best Bowrider Boats….Why Do They Deserve Your Consideration

Looking for a new bowrider in 2020?  Going to the Toronto Boat Show to try on some new shiny bowriders for family fun and adventure?  Lots of bowrider boat brands to consider like Campion Boats, Regal Boats, Chaparral Boats, Monterey Boats, SeaRay and Crownline to name a few of the most recognized brands.  All of these brands are well-known, respected in the industry and worthy of consideration.  How do I separate the brands and models that work best for my family?

There are 5 major criteria to separate out your bowrider purchase:

  1. Price….no surprise here!  Price is respective of the quality and materials ingrained in that boat model and brand.   What we should be actually calling this is “value for the money”.   What Brand and Model presents the best bang for my hard-earned dollar?  In order to establish this value you need to get past appearance and take a serious look at items such as construction materials and warranties.
  2. Quality….never really understood by boat purchaser’s  or receives the required  amount of detailed consideration it should.  With the complexity of build techniques and essentially impossible to see the actual laminate schedules, stringer and transom support construction… need to ask the right questions.
  3. Style and Comfort.  How cute or pretty is it and how much of a rush do I get from the look with me in it cruising driving down the lake.  One could argue very successfully that this is the biggest mistake and the largest source of buyer regret after the sale.
  4. Size and power.  Choosing the right size boat to match my family now and with due consideration to growing family needs a decade into the future.   So much buyer confusion on interior space versus actual wet line running surface.
  5. Dealer location.  Do I buy the brand represented by the closest dealer I want to or presently have a service relationship with or take the plunge and buy the boat we actually want.  Does that mean I accept buying a lesser quality brand to deal with a specific dealer?

An Important Note about Boat Brands and Dealerships

The size, standing in the marketplace as well as hisory will have a bearing on what brand a dealership represents.  You may want to be a Cobalt or regal dealer but if those are already represented in your trading zone by another dealership…you as a dealer only get to represent from what lines are available whether this is a top line for quality or not.  Once you ar a dealer…it needs to work for your dealership and he salesforce has to market that line whether it is good value or not.

There you have it….5 major ways to sort out your next boat purchase.  I could add some subgroups under each one of the criteria but this is a good start.  Below I have added a number of links to additional information on the big five buying criteria.

Now something really to consider before you say……Yes! 

  • The brand is not going to tell you anything bad about themselves, build processes, warranty rates or claims, ranking, that they use only IBBI approved building materials or anything generally other than…..we are great….buy us!  Most salesperson focus is on overall eye appeal and not much on the substance of the boat.  If a dealership only represents one brands…then whether it is a good fit or not….they must sell you that brand.
  • The salesperson is not going to tell you anything negative about that boat as essentially 100% of the time that is the only brand and model they represent and they are paid commissions only on success.  When at a boat show…is the salesperson a hired gun by the dealership or do they actually work year round at the dealership?  Ask the question.

What Are The Big 5 Traits Your Next Bowrider Has to Have?

  1. Power!  Outboard or sterndrive power will be the choices and what horsepower.  With my experience upwards to 30% of boat buyers buy the wrong horsepower.  Why is that?  Price always enters the conversation and the other is a bad discovery conversation with the selling agent.   The Rule:  There is no substation for horsepower…if you do not buy enough…this cannot be remedied without repowering.
  2. Superior value for the money!  The right combination of great construction and superior building materials in combination with eye-catching appeal.  Purchase price and value should meet at least…lower price is not a value enhancement if the quality is not there….get past the eye candy.
  3. A strong or leading warranty that backs up the commitment by the builder that they are truly offering a superior product.  Most of all….the builder stands behind the boat…no nitpicking warranty or hoop jumping.
  4. Weight….yes weight…..light boats are a marketing ploy by the builder.  Tough construction is measured by weight as well as materials.  Big water requires big build strength.  The superior choice of all composite construction can provide best value.
  5. Room to play and grow!  The right interior layout with room for the family to grow.  The size of the boat must meet the demands of the water conditions it calls home…..the bigger the waves the bigger, deeper and stronger the boat needs to be.

Lets take a deeper look at a couple of the Big Five Traits and add some brand names.  a consumer to consider right now.  The weight comparison illustrated here is between Crownline, Chaparral and Monterey boats.

Bowrider Boat Weight Comparison (PDF)

Now an argument can be made that a lighter boat will be more fuel efficient and may raise to on plane speed quicker.  That may in fact be right……but hull efficiencies in terms of design can offset this to some degree.  The fact remains that ride performance in rough water conditions  is a function of weight, hull design and overall length. In other words a longer heavier properly designed wet hull surface will provide a significantly more pleasing ride ( not as rough or jarring ride ).  To this fact there is no dispute.  The argument that our boat is made from superior light weight materials…well if this is so…then show me what they are….there is a big difference between high tech composites and just thinned hull lamination.   Plus there is the consideration as to whether the builder is using light weight high strength materials or just using less materials in the hull lamination to save money.

The question to consider is if a builder is offering a hull that is thicker with more internal support a superior value proposition versus a lighter thinner hull where they have chosen to use less materials.  Want to take a more in depth look at boat building materials…here is a link to Cook Composites a leading supplier:

lease take note than when comparing boats of the same relative size….all boats have the same proportioned weight for engines, windshields and interior components.  Therefore it follows if Brand X is significantly lighter that Brand Y the difference is attributable to the hull lamination or the actual meat of the boat.  Does the boat have ” Good Bones” or superior bones for the dollar?  You may here terms such as “E Glass, Nidacore, Cormat, Balsa Core or Foam Core construction or materials which are high strength composite materials designed to work in combination with the liquid fiberglass resin ( polyester or vinyl ester resins with the latter being superior) to increase strength.  All Tier One builders utilize some or all of these composite materials.  As these materials are relatively high cost items many Tier 2 or Tier 3 builders cannot utilize these types of materials in their build process to maintain or present to the marketplace a lower price.

Also of note is an “all wood panel stringer system” averages 10% higher weight than that of an all composite stringer hull construction.   As an example the difference in a 20′ boat in weight added or subtracted is in the area of 100 to 125 lbs.

Bowrider Warranties Comparison

Below is a warranty comparison chart put together by Crownline Boats illustrating how these builders will back up their build processes.  The one that really stands out in a negative fashion is Regal.

With this comparison Crownline provides the strongest warranty for purchases year round.  For the Toronto Boat Show Monterey will have a special promotion for 7 years warranty only.


Are you truly a quality brand buyer?  Are you considering a SeaRay, Chaparral, Regal, Crownline, Monterey, Campion or Cobalt boat for your next purchase?  Going to settle for a Tier 2 lesser quality brand such as Glasstron or Four Winns.  Listed below is additional more detailed information on boat construction and purchasing….enjoy!

Crownline Boats….Superior Construction….They Think So and Back It Up!

Bowriders for Sale, Compare Campion Boats, Crownline Boats, Regal Boats, Chaparral Boats

Bowriders for Sale, Vinyl Ester or Polyester Resins?

Bowriders for Sale in Ontario…What Exterior Hull Gel Coat is Best?

Bowrider Boat Buying Tips, Bowrider Gelcoat Discolouration, Gel Coat Cracks and Osmosis

Outboard and Sterndrive Powered Bowriders For Sale, Which is Best

Bowrider Boat Buying Guide, 10 Facts to Consider Part 1

Bowrider Boat Buying Guide, 10 Facts to Consider Part 2