World-renowned high-performance boat builder Force Boats has just created a more sociable and family-friendly version of their world championship-winning F21 ski boat. Force has spent over 25 years cultivating a hard-earned reputation for producing race-winning ski boats. But this new bowrider – affectionately known as ‘The Transformer’ by Rod Bickerton and his team and powered by the awesome 300hp Mercury ProXS V8 – represents a direct response to a new shift in consumer behaviour.
“Given that the coronavirus has restricted ski racing, we’ve noticed seen a shift towards people wanting to be able to use their boats more recreationally,” said Rod. “In this past year, our consumer demand has changed from not only wanting fast racing boats but also to something that’s a little more spacious that can be used to take the family out for a day. Most bowriders on the market are quite slow, but what we can now give people is a boat that’s fast, spacious and smooth enough to go out to the harbour and have some real fun.”
Proudly wearing the model number F21XB, it is the first outboard F21 bowrider that Force Boats has designed. It uses the same hull design but boasts spacious seating in the wrap-around lounges and driver and passenger bucket seats with room for eight on board.
Power comes from the Mercury 300hp Pro XS which is seamlessly mated to Mercury’s Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS) system. The 300hp Pro XS is built on Mercury’s V8 engine platform that has a class-leading 4.6L powerhead delivering phenomenal torque while weighing just 229 kilograms.
“This particular Mercury outboard is the perfect fit for our new bowrider. It ticks every box for a fast, family-friendly boat,” Rod said. “It’s smooth and quiet but hugely powerful with great mid-range acceleration that’s quite amazing. It did a comfortable 130 km/h in testing and the six-year warranty gives enormous peace of mind. Most of our clientele are moving towards the DTS system. It means you can operate from hand and foot and spend the whole day on the water feeling the control of the throttle. It’s just an awesome boat. What we’ve basically designed is an eight seat supercar for the water!”
Mercury’s V8 Pro XS outboards includes a range of outstanding features including:
- Transient Spark technology which boosts torque by as much as 7% during hole shot
- Adaptive Speed control that automatically maintains a desired RPM, regardless of changes in load, resulting in increased throttle response and a “sportier” feel for the driver;
- Advanced Range Optimisation improves cruise-speed fuel efficiency by automatically adjusting fuel delivery so seamlessly the operator won’t feel or hear it; and
- Performance tuned Exhaust provides a brawny, performance-inspired sound quality at lower speeds that is unmistakeable on the water.
All Pro XS models come with a 3+3=6 Year factory warranty.
‘The Transformer’ moniker is a result of Rod’s innovative approach to solving the problem of wind rushing through the centre walk-through and into the cockpit. His solution means the boat’s walk-through floor becomes a door. This door lifts easily from the driver’s seat to create a full windscreen and wind deflection with underneath storage and cup holders.
“I’m really proud of the windbreak design; it’s something unique that we tried for the first time in creating this boat,” said Rod. “Usually when a boat is going really fast the wind draws through the centre and roars down the cockpit. As a solution, I designed the windbreaker as part of the floor that you can walk over and lift when needed to complete the windscreen.“
“It has a ski locker behind the rear lounge which we’ve never done before. We’ve also incorporated the swim steps and the engine walkaround all in one piece to make it neater and more stylish. During the 12 months of building it I sent photos to the client every day. He was so excited that if I didn’t send a picture, he’d be onto me saying ‘where are my photos!’ He got to enjoy the boat for a year before he even drove it.”
Despite the Force Boats workshop being hard hit by the NSW floods in March, Rod and his team are now full steam ahead and ready to continue production. The only problem they’re experiencing now is having created something as cool as the F21XB, everyone wants one. “We sold another one straight away, we have another two on order and we’re starting to do more bowriders with our 24 and 25-footers,” Rod said. “Demand is high and we foresee it only growing further, but this is a really good problem for us to have.”