- As a comfortable family craft that can stretch its legs when needed, this boat is pretty unique in this country.
- The standard of finish to the gelcoat is outstanding, and when you lift the engine hatch you find that this quality is more than just skin-deep.
- These boats are very well built and are certainly not known to suffer structural problems.
Chris Craft Launch 22
Greg Copp examines an exclusive and versatile bowrider like no other…
The American-built Chris Craft Launch 22 is not your stereotypical bowrider. Unlike its cheaper competitors, it is not a boat barely longer than it is wide – often filled with more people than life jackets. Its beautiful retrospective lines are reminiscent of the days when fast, sleek boats like this were called launches in earnest. Built on a deep-vee hull with a respectable transom deadrise of 20 degrees, this boat has a beam of 8ft 3in and an overall length of 23ft 5in. Consequently it is wide enough to accommodate, yet rakish enough to perform when things get rough. The bow enjoys a considerable amount of flare, which not only enhances its period looks, but actually keeps a lot of the sea out of the boat, especially the forward seating area.
Chris Craft, and this model in particular, are thin on the ground in the UK, which, coupled to its build quality, serves to reduce depreciation. This yard has been building high-quality sports boats for decades, and is considered to be one of the best US builders of sports boats. The Launch 22 is one of many capable offshore boats from Chris Craft that do not put appearance bottom of the design list. The boat featured in this article is the later incarnation of the Launch 22, which, unlike the first models, no longer sports a transom walk-through passage over the engine bay. The absence of this passage enhances engine access while giving you the option of fitting a removable sun pad over the engine bay – an important feature on this type of boat.
Like the few examples on this side of the Atlantic, this particular boat has a 300hp Volvo 5.7GXI petrol engine, on a duo-prop sterndrive. This is a perfect match for the boat, giving a top speed of 46 knots and a cruising speed of 30 knots, and returning 3mpg while it does so. There are other engine options including a petrol 380hp 5.2L V8 MerCruiser and a diesel 240hp Yanmar, but the lighter weight and efficient performance of the Volvo duo prop make the 5.7GXI a good choice for this boat. A diesel-powered Launch 22 would be very out of character, which probably explains why I have come across very few sub-30ft Chris Crafts with diesel engines.
This boat has the optional blue hull (£5,000 extra), which has proven a popular option on pretty much every Chris Craft I have seen, as these retro boats simply do not look right with a white hull. The standard of finish to the gelcoat is outstanding, and when you lift the engine hatch you find that this quality is more than just skin-deep. The interior of the engine bay has a smooth gelcoat finish, and looking round the fittings the construction is no less impressive. All fuel hoses are double clamped, and the custom-built wiring harness runs through corrugated flexible conduits, with high-quality waterproof connections between all components. This is unusual as most boatbuilders simply use a wiring harness made by the engine manufacturer rather than producing their own.
If you look behind the scenes you will find that all external skin fittings bolt through thick aluminium backing plates – no bonded pieces of ply here. Digging deeper will reveal why this boat makes light work of heavy seas. The stringer matrix is a substantial affair, built to keep this sharp hull in shape if the sea gets rough. Access and storage in the engine bay are pretty good, with a removable bulkhead to keep the sun pad off the engine when stored.
As a comfortable family craft that can stretch its legs when needed, this boat is pretty unique in this country. It does, however, appear quite expensive when you look at its cheaper competitors. However, you can’t help but think it is well worth paying the money – after all, isn’t boating often about purist exclusivity?
Points To Consider:
There are no less than eight engine options – four from Mercury, three from Volvo ranging in capacity from 5.3L to 8.2L, and a 240hp diesel Yanmar. Power outputs vary from 300hp to 380hp and the sterndrive options are either the dual-prop Bravo 3X for Mercury/Yanmar options or Volvo duo props. The Volvo duo prop will be the most efficient drive, and, coupled to the 380hp 6L Volvo V8 engine option, will probably be the most exciting version to helm. In this country, Volvo-powered boats will outnumber the few boats fitted with MerCruiser power plants. Unless the engine has very low hours with service records to back it up, make sure you get an engine survey done.
These boats are very well built and are certainly not known to suffer structural problems. However, like any fast sports boat, stress cracking is the first thing to look for. This problem is easily identified on boats with no antifouling as there are beaching scratches on the keel. If the boat is antifouled, look for damp streaks in the antifouling as soon as the boat has been lifted from the water. Stress cracks always hold moisture for a short time while the boat is drying. Needless to say, a survey is always a must.
Open boats always suffer from upholstery wear eventually, no matter how well they are finished. Bowriders are often used as ski and beach boats, meaning wet, salty people will be getting in and out of them frequently. As a result, look carefully in those less accessible places where water lingers.
- Designer: Chris Craft
- Hull type: Deep vee
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- Current values: £35,000 to £50,000
- Length overall: 23ft 5in (7.14m)
- Beam: 8ft 3in (2.52m)
- Draught: 2ft 11in (0.9m)
- Displacement: 1800kg (depending on engine option)
- Fuel capacity: 58 gallons
- Cruising range: Depending on engine options – expect 170 miles with a 20% reserve at 30 knots with the 300hp Volvo GXI