Friday, March 1, 2013

Aspen C100 – Monumental Game Changer

That’s right, I said “monumental game changer!” I’m choosing those words carefully, they are not an exaggeration or just another marketing line. I’m talking about an industry changing technology that just proved it is scalable and in fact only gets better with size.

When Larry Graf and his team built the C90, many were skeptical. It’s a terrific boat, but now the Aspen team has proven they are capable of applying the concept to larger boats and that it not only works, but is an unbelievable leap over everything else on the market. Dave Pugh, who did the engineer work on the C100, has to be proud. He not only had to get the shapes perfect, he had to layout the boat and distribute its weight so that the asymmetric hulls matched their displacement against the weight they carry. Fail to do that and the boat doesn’t float level. Well, here’s the picture of the boat floating for the first time:

While it looks nice, knowing what went into it, I say WOW, great job. Being a pilot for more than 30 years, I’ve seen my share of engineering projects, many simpler than this, that didn’t go right – so congratulations.

But how does it do when you put it into motion?

Spectacular! Tracks even better than the C90, like it’s on rails. Turns flat as a pancake, similar in motion to a BMW or a Corvette that stays level and flat in a turn – both directions.

The first thing you’ll notice about the C100 is its stature. It sits about 7 inches taller than the C90 and has more presence due to its size. It’s lines are beautiful:

Sound – Even without the insulation added yet, the boat is far quieter in the cabin, and very comfortable in the aft cockpit even at full throttle.

Performance – The 220hp Volvo D3 is silk smooth and brings the power on like right now. The motor has a very sporty but subtle rumble, love the sound. Look down at the GPS and you’re doing 20 mph without even breathing hard – hey, that’s near top speed of the C90 (which is already amazing for a full displacement hull). As we pushed the power all the way up, the engine rested on it’s computer controlled max rpm and thus we may have slightly too little pitch in the propellor. Still, it was running at about 25 mph, and Larry is taking the prop in to see if we can’t get even more top end out of it.

During the maiden voyage we had five of us big guys on it, nearly 1,200 lbs in all. It absolutely slayed the waves and wakes we encountered without so much as a noticable wiggle – yes, better than the C90. Notable fuel consumption looked like this:
8.5 mph – 1.5 gph, which equals nearly 6 miles to the gallon! 17 mph – 5.0 gph, almost identical to the C90 with that much weight – amazing, remember this boat is right at 35 feet in length! 20 to 21 mph – 6.0 gph. This felt very comfortable and ultra smooth. Is top speed in a C90 and is where you’ll find Nate passing almost everyone else on the water by… in a full displacement hull getting 3.5 miles to the gallon!! Crazy. Like I said, this is a GAME CHANGER.

With less weight and a little propellor tweak I think those numbers only get better. What’s cool about the hull is that it’s comfortable at any speed and actually smoother the faster you go – most boats have speed zones in which they are not at all capable, not so with the Aspen.

The wake it leaves is freaky. The C90 leaves a wake like a little ski boat, but the C100 leaves an even smaller and cleaner wake! Two very little rooster tails, one behind each hull, then the water falls perfectly flat. This is the result of the extra clean way the hull knifes through the water. Larry designed in what I call a “serrated leading edge” to knock down the spray and to replace that stainless steal spray bar on the C90… works like a champ, the water leaves the leading edge and goes straight out to the side, even going through waves at top speed did not see spray from the helm position – we had to lean over the side from the aft cockpit to see it.

Advantages to other boats on the market? Unbelievable efficiency, stability, handling, and with two double hulls, six water tight compartments, and seven automatic bilge pumps this boat is just flat out inherently safer. Honestly, I have tons of time on the water and I simply don’t see any disadvantage – I truly believe this is the boat of the future and the closest thing to perfection in a coastal cruiser made to date.

Yes, I’m excited. I am personally inviting everyone to come up to either Everett or Anacortes and take it for a spin – I don’t care if you already own an Aspen, a Gateway share, or whatever, let’s go out and have some fun, you will be amazed. Oh, and I don’t really care what the weather is doing, my personal limit is 40 kts, anything above that and my fear is that you’ll have fear – me and the boat will be fine otherwise! Call and let’s take it out.

Do not try this at home, but, the other day I did a C90 demo ride (just me and one other) in 4 to 5 foot wind blown chop and swells with the winds gusting to 40 – whitecaps inside the marina. Thruster away from the dock into the wind, held it’s position no problem. Rotated the boat in the alley 90 degrees, put it in idle and was doing 3.5 mph idling into a 30 knot wind without even hearing the wind and rain. No other boats on the water – and frankly I would not have taken another boat out that day, gale warnings posted. However, as I tell people, if you boat enough, eventually you will run into conditions that scare you – when that day comes, it will be a traumatic and very memorable day for everyone on board – those who boat and fly a lot know what I mean. When that day comes and you’re riding in an Aspen, forget the trauma. You will probably remember it, but you won’t be remembering the trauma, you’ll be remembering how well that boat rode and how it kept you and your loved ones protected.