There is a saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If that’s correct, then the Chris Craft Launch 27, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful boats I have ever reviewed.
Stunning, striking, superb, gorgeous, exquisite; words that come to mind when describing this work of art from one of the world’s most established boat builders. This is a boat that can’t help but catch your attention both on and off the water.
The Launch 27 is the second Chris Craft I have had the pleasure of reviewing and like the smaller Launch 20 I ran on Lake Dunstan five years ago, it is faultless. I can’t say that about every boat, but when you look at it in the context it is designed for, I can’t see how you could improve it.
Chris-Craft goes back 145 years when while Henry Ford was creating the first motorcars, his watercraft counterpart, Christopher Columbus Smith, was developing the very first engine propelled boats.
During the Second World War, the company reinforced its hold on the American imagination when its landing craft transported the first troops to the Normandy shore on D-Day. In 1959, Time Magazine would recognise the widespread phenomenon of pleasure boating and put Chris-Craft on its cover.
So what has made the Chris Craft such an iconic name in pleasure boating? Chris Craft says they have a unique design language that makes them stand out because specific design characteristics define them. There is nothing brash or overdone. Nothing trendy or frivolous. Just classic lines and elegant touches that contribute to their beauty. Plus the company adds that it is all in the detail.
When it comes to detail, the Chris Craft Launch 27 has it in every aspect, from the flawless custom-made deck hardware to the highest level of upholstery, timber joinery and hull design.
When a boat looks as good as the Launch 27, it also has to perform on the water to the same degree. I spent a few hours on a choppy Lyttelton Harbour and as we were also making a video had plenty of time behind the wheel. There are quite a few power options from 300hp to 425hp from either MerCruiser or Volvo Penta, with the importer for Chris Craft, Sports Marine powering this particular boat with the MerCruiser 6.2L 350HP MerCruiser Bravo 3 leg.
Acceleration was impressive, and the boat was not only swift to plane but also retained a shallow bow angle. The 20 deg deep-V hull has reverse chines which contribute to its stability and deflects spray for a drier ride. Top speed was 51 mph. Being chased by our drone cross the harbour in the choppy water with its long swells, it was a pleasure to drive around 25 mph. While I felt comfortable at the standard seat height, the wide thickly padded helm chair has a thigh bolster that brings added height and visibility should you want it.
The GRP hull is built using a stringer system and a one-piece fibreglass liner, that is foam filled for both flotation and noise reduction. You have the choice of metallic or non-metallic paint finishers.
Due to the unique shape of the windscreen, I found myself resting my arm on the side deck and imagined myself driving a 1930 Duesenberg Model J along Hollywood Boulevard. But back to reality! Chris Craft markets the Launch 27 as a family runabout, and with seating for ten, it is easy to see why. It was initially designed to compete in the sports boat market, but Chris Craft went a few steps further and made it more of a family cruiser.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Just how you fit out your Launch 27 is up to you as the options list has plenty to offer. However, even in its most standard form, the boat comes with just about everything….and then some. Chris Craft has taken every aspect of the layout and tweaked it to perfection and added small features that set the boat apart from others and reinforce both the quality and attention to detail.
The Launch 27 is 8.13m overall, including the boarding platform and 7.71m without. Access to the boat is over the aft deck sun pad /engine cover and rear lounge, but with teak walk panels – under removable cushions – you don’t need to mess up the upholstery. The teak covered engine hatch with sun pad is optional. The automatic engine hatch is insulated and stays nice and quiet when you need to have conversations. The swim platform has a concealed fresh water system with a hand shower to rinse off after a swim and an integrated ladder.
This a boat set up for day cruising with wrap around seating that is designed to both sit on and also to use as sun loungers. There is an oval shaped teak cockpit table available. All the upholstery is comfortable and luxurious and finished in beautiful diamond-pattern stitching. The cushion foam is covered with a biotreated bag to make it resistant to mould and mildew. There is a choice of quality marine vinyl and custom fabrics, with nine solid and two-tone colour combinations to create the Launch 27 that is uniquely yours.
Heavy stainless steel bars wrap-around the forward seats, providing a solid grip and a beautiful detail that embraces the seat just as the seat embraces the driver. The helm is set out in a very retro style with large gauges, although you do have the option of installing a Garmin 7″ MFD. I liked the Chris Craft branded digital gauges which suit the style of the Launch 27. The solid mahogany tilt steering wheel, with stainless steel spokes, has a gimbaled Chris Craft logo in the centre which is very cool. There is plenty of storage throughout the boat beneath squabs and inside the consoles. Under the teak floor are a ski storage area and a cooler storage bin.
An interesting feature is a Porti-Potti head that mounts inside the passenger side console and the inclusion of a pressurised fresh water sink.
The tempered glass walk-thru windscreen set in a heavy stainless frame is both stylish and practical. Along with the stainless steel trumpet horns, it’s all very retro. Should you want some weather protection, the Launch 27 comes standard with an easy to raise and lower soft bimini which is neatly concealed behind the rear lounger.
A hinged door between the consoles stops the wind blowing through into the cockpit, and there is also a clip-on bow cover. The U-shaped seating area on the bow is exceptionally comfortable, and there is storage under the squabs and in the floor. The anchor system is all kept below decks with an integral bow roller, so there is nothing above to break the smooth symmetry of the deck lines. Even the stainless cleats set into the teak decks are pop-up.
No fishing rods, no bait bins and no rocket launcher and neither there should be. This is a boat that wants to be seen cruising around the Bay of Islands, Marlborough Sounds or the Southern Lakes. All it needs is the appropriate tow vehicle, such as a Lamborghini Urus to complete the package.
If you love the Launch 27 as much as I do, but want something a little smaller, there is a Launch 23 available, and if you’re going to upsize, then there are four larger models. However, for me, the Launch 27 is the pick of them, and I can understand why it is one of the most popular models in the extensive Chris Craft range.
- Boat Design Name: Chris Craft Launch 27
- Year Launched: 2019
- Builder: Chris Craft
- LOA: 8.13m
- LOH: 7.71m
- Beam: 2.60m
- Deadrise: 20 deg
- Displ (Dry): 2722 kg
- Max Speed: 51 mph
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Cap: 322 litres
- Water Cap: 34 litres
- Engine: Mercury 6.2L @ 350HP
- Drive Train: MerCruiser
- Ent System: Fusion
- Price of Boat: $227,900