Not long ago Brett Becker alerted Boat Trader readers to the new Volvo-Penta Forward Drive system, calling it game-changer for water-sports runabouts. With a forward-facing, counter-rotating DuoProp set-up derived from Volvo’s IPS pod drive systems, Forward Drive moves the danger of spinning screws well away from people in the water behind the transom.
The Forward Drive can be mated with standard stern-drive engines, which means the system is tailor-made for the big and growing wakesurfing and wakeboarding market. Boatbuilding leaders in that world like Four Winns, Cobalt, and Bryant are already starting to use the drive on some of their offerings.
One example is the new TS222 from Four Winns. At 22’7″ in length, with an 8’6″ beam and 2’9″ draft, the boat weighs in at 4,470 lbs. The hull is based on the Four Winns ‘Stable Vee’ form and has a transom deadrise of 20 degrees — good for straight-line tracking and quick maneuverability in recovering downed surfers and wakeboarders. The 1,300-pound water ballast system is quick-filling and the weight can be shifted from side to side with the touch of buttons. The deep hull shape and water ballast, combined with adjustments from (optional) trim/surf tabs, produce big wakes for surfing or jumping, while the Forward Drive keeps its props out of the way and sends underwater exhaust out well aft so that riders aren’t exposed to carbon monoxide fumes. Other watersport-centric features are a beefy wakeboard tower and extra-large swim platform for boarding and gearing up.
For the helmsman the TS222 offers a nicely trimmed wheel and dash, with engine controls and gauges laid out efficiently. The helm station features Enovation Controls’ Zero Off system, which links GPS satellite tracking to the throttle so that the helmsman can dial in a specific speed and have it maintained automatically. For competition wakeboarding and waterskiing the system eliminates a lot of variables, and has been adopted by many pro watersports organizations.
Although the TS222 is a dedicated towing and wakesurfing boat, it doesn’t lack for creature comforts, especially for a 22-footer — and here again it’s helped by the fact that it is essentially a sterndrive and not a mid-engine tow-boat. The cockpit is uncluttered, with a big walk-through to the swim platform alongside a forward-facing lounge seat. The backrests on both the helm and copilot seats can be switched forward and aft so that attention can be focused on driving, watching the wake, or cockpit gatherings. There’s also a windscreen walk-through to a forward sundeck area with lounge seating.
For the watersports gang the TS222 represents a welcome evolutionary advance, combining a proven hull form with drive innovation that enhances safety, performance, and fuel economy. Volvo engine options include a range of power ratings from 300 to 430 horsepower, all small-block V8s.