Author : Barry Thompson
The Cobra TS2 is a boat that combines an innovative approach to styling and hull design that has never been emulated since its earliest inception 30 years ago.
In 1976 the late Ian Todd was looking for a very fast monohull for circuit racing and after a lot of searching settled on the Australian Tennessee design. However he still felt it needed some improvements and so in time built his own very modified timber version. Today his son Tony Todd continues to develop that same hull, albeit very much altered and improved.
Today’s Cobra TS2 is all fibreglass. While a mould was taken off the original wooden experimental plug in the 1980s, the TS2 is based on a new generation mould, with the boats all hand built in TNT Marine’s factory in Rotorua. The fibreglass construction is very conventional with coremat used in the standard boat and the addition of double bias cloth in the race version.
This is a boat that is marketed not as a no holds-barred ski performance machine but rather an affordable family ski boat. While it is also suitable for taking the family across the lake for a picnic, its clientele is certainly going to be more performance and ski/wake based. In saying that, there is certainly no reason why you couldn’t bring a trout aboard while trolling the 4-stroke Suzuki in the early morning mist of Lake Rotoiti.
The ski boat market in New Zealand has always been quite small and sales are often based on word of mouth as someone finds what they like and tells others. The Cobra is such a boat and while sales have never been strong, they have found a core market, especially around the Rotorua region.
It was on Lake Rotoiti that I tested the Cobra and while I had expected mirror smooth water to give the Cobra a hard-out run, there were white caps over most of the lake and I was struggling to find enough calm water for a speed run.
Blasting down the lake in a following short lake chop, the Cobra impressed me right from the start. It leaps onto the plane and reaches maximum speed very quickly. As the boat was shortly after to be run in the Bridge to Bridge ski race, Tony had fitted a foot throttle to make the fast driving on the river a lot easier and safer. Normally the Cobra comes with the standard hand throttle but I would personally recommend the foot throttle option, especially as this is a boat that can really only be driven sitting down anyway.
At 4500 rpm @ around 45 mph the Suzuki 140 powered Cobra skipped controllably across the water and was really comfortable and very predictable to drive. I was impressed with the softness of the ride and the lack of any hull slap or excessive noise.
Running back up the lake into the short chop it was much the same and with a little less trim I was encouraged by Tony to push it harder. The 6.5m low profile hull skipped across the water and I soon found I was pulling close to 55mph and loving it.
While the short lake chop was no effort for the Cobra I still had to remind myself that this boat was designed to go fast in light to moderate water and not to tackle the big breaking swells such as might be experienced on Auckland or Wellington Harbours.
The Cobra TS2 is rated for outboards from 90hp upwards and depending on your need for speed, that’s a very broad range. On my GPS I got 60.5mph @ 6400rpm from the Suzuki 140 fitted with a 26” Laser II. Back in the late 1970’s Ian Todd ran an official speed of 105mph in a Cobra using a 235hp Evinrude. At the lower end of the scale a 90hp outboard would still be plenty with a top speed in the low 50s.
When you first look at the Cobra you see a very unique looking boat with an aerodynamic hull that was one of the first production boats to incorporate a ski plank. The extremely fine entry is designed to cut through the waves and the excessive and very obvious ‘wings’ that overhang either side of the hull are there for lift. At the midpoint the wings are set on a 33 deg upward angle on the running surface and 200mm wide. Running from the transom to the bow, they help to provide some lift, especially at high speed and also deflect any spray from the chines.
Seating for Five
The low profile aspect of the Cobra TS2 means that when you are driving, the wrap around screen does little more than deflect some wind. With no way forward or a separate anchor locker you have to keep your anchoring gear in a separate bin that can be stowed under the foredeck. This is common on most ski boats of this style. The moulded 50 litre ballast tank/footrest unit stops any gear sliding back into the cockpit.
The full width dash features a central raised instrument panel that is large enough for not only the customary tacho, speedo and trim gauges but also a small fishfinder/plotter. Hydrive hydraulic steering comes standard and is more than suitable for recreational boating. The purists may wish to convert to either mechanical push/pull cables or even wire and pulleys with wing steering off the outboard. The dash is offered with either a carbon fibre or woodgrain veneer finish and the boat is finished with marine grade carpet throughout.
Twin swivelling floor-mounted bucket seats and a full-width transom bench seat provide seating for five. Storage is always a problem in low profile ski boats, but in the Cobra TS2 good use has been made of the available space. There are upholstered side pockets plus plenty of space under the aft deck. This area is also used for twin tote tanks if you don’t go for the 60-litre underfloor fuel tank option.
On the weighbridge the rig I tested had a total weight of 960kg of which the trailer accounted for 320kg. As tested the Cobra TS2 has a retail price of $46,000 and if you are looking for a boat/trailer package the price is $25,500.00. Hull only is $22000.
As an all round affordable family ski boat the Cobra TS2 is as good as they come.
The ride and handling in light to moderate water is excellent and the overall finish and presentation of the boat first class. The design is innovative and challenges the conventional approach as to what a ski boat should look like. The styling certainly sets it apart and the bonus is that not only does it look hot, it also goes just as well.
- Model: Cobra TS2
- Priced From: $22000
- Price as Tested: $46000
- Type: Skiboat
- Construction: GRP
- LOA: 5.50m
- Beam: 2.03m
- Deadrise: Variable
- Height on Trailer: 1.90m
- Trailerable Weight: 960kg
- Engine Capacity: 90hp – Upwards
- Power Options: Outboard
- Fuel Capacity: 60 litres
- Engine: Suzuki 140