Adding surfing capability to one of its most popular deck boats gives Starcraft a winner.
Boat Test #1507
Celebrating its 115th anniversary in 2018, Starcraft has come to learn a thing or two about building versatile, affordable boats that meet the needs of growing families. Today, that family almost certainly includes one or more wake surfers. So the company took one of its most popular deck boats, reimagined it with surfing in mind, and the result might just go on to become one of their best-selling models yet.
The all-new Starstep 221 Surf Series adds a whole new level of capability to what was already a really great boat. Built on a stepped hull with a full-width cutaway about midway along its length, the design allows faster planing times, less bow rise, crisper handling and better performance with lower horsepower – and makes it a great starting point for a wake surfing boat. Starcraft then added a ballast system (consisting of a 465-pound center tank and twin 380-pound bags in the stern) plus Volvo Penta’s 4.3L engine with its unique Forward Drive. With its forward-facing tandem propellers, the Forward Drive keeps those spinning blades safely tucked under the boat’s hull and well out of the way should the surfer take a tumble close by the boat.
And how does it work? Amazingly well, with the near-3,000 pound Starstep pushing a beautiful thigh-high wave with a long, clean face that’s ideal for surfing.
Starcraft achieves this performance with-out giving up any of the Starstep’s original comforts or amenities. The huge, open cockpit provides comfortable seating for 13 people, the driver on a high-back swivelling Captain’s chair with a flip-up bolster. Passengers enjoy plushly-upholstered wrap-around lounge seats made from a new foam that offers just the right balance of comfort and support. Lift the hinged seat cushions and you’ll find ample storage for all sorts of gear.
Our test boat came with Marine Mat soft-touch decking on the swim platform and throughout the interior. Marine Mat provides a secure, non-slip surface even when it’s wet, and it looks great as well. There’s a near full-beam rear sunpad over the engine housing, which doubles as a handy rear-facing seat when you’re getting set up for a turn on the wakeboard. You can arrange the sunpad surface as a rear-facing seat back too, creating an ideal spot to loaf, lounge, and watch the sunset.
The stylish helm console is dominated by a stylish sport steering wheel, with plenty of room behind it for an in-dash display screen. An Infinity Bluetooth stereo sits to the left of the wheel, and the console also includes a couple of integrated beverage holders. Overhead, a stylish tower includes an integral bimini top that provides a welcome escape from the sun.
Opposite the helm on the port side of the boat, a small but efficient console with a solid-surface countertop offers a sink with faucet, twin beverage holders, and a large storage cabinet beneath.
Volvo Penta’s powerful V6 and Forward Drive doesn’t just make this a great surf boat, it also gives it plenty of OMG factor when buzzing around the lake. The Starstep accelerates like a rocket, and handles beautifully with its performance hull design and the high-torque bite of the Volvo’s tandem props. With a bit of trim adjustment the Starstep 221 Surf Series is a legitimate 50 mph boat, and just so much fun to drive you won’t want to return to the dock.
By Craig Ritchie