New Volvo Penta Forward Drive Could Be a Game Changer

Sitting somewhat inconspicuously in the corner of the Four Winns booth at the Miami International Boat Show was a new model dubbed the TS222. It wasn’t the first time a runabout company has tried to enter the watersports market with a sterndrive boat geared up for wakeboarding. But this one was different.

With Forward Drive, wake surfing behind a stern-drive boat is now an option.

With Forward Drive, wake surfing behind a stern-drive boat is now an option.

Look at the business end of the boat and you find a new drive from Volvo-Penta. Called the Forward Drive, the new propulsion system has the potential to do what stern drive runabouts never could before: plow through the water and throw wakes big enough for wakeboarding and even wakesurfing, without the danger presented by a propeller spinning behind the boat.

Forward Drive is a pretty simple idea derived from Volvo Penta’s IPS system introduced at the Miami Boat Show 10 years ago. Forward Drive has the traditional lower unit of a stern drive, but the key difference is that the propellers—this is a DuoProp setup—are located at the front of the drive rather than the rear. The measurable difference is that the propellers are located 26 inches farther forward than a regular DuoProp drive.

Before the new Forward Drive, stern-driven runabouts weren’t able to plow through the water at the speeds suited for wakeboarding and wakesurfing, without trying to climb on plane. They would go on and off plane, which wreaked havoc on the wakes riders were trying to, well, ride. It just didn’t work. And if they fell forward, they could have an unfortunate experience with the stern drive’s propellers. Ouch.

With the Forward Drive a stern drive boat has the wake-making ability, and those spinning props are far in front of the transom. The Four Winns TS222 at the Miami show was fitted with the company’s proprietary Stable Vee hull, and a wake-tuning trim tab to either side of the stern drive. The TS222 also was fitted with 1,350 pounds of water ballast, which it can put to good use for towed sports. Videos at the booth showed people wakeboarding and wake surfing behind the TS222, and the wakes had the slope and scope you need to get a good ride.

The new Forward Drive gives stern drives some considerable advantages over an inboard. For example, the propellers turn with the drive, so the thrust is directional. Regular inboards are bi-directional: either forward or back. That makes a Forward Drive-equipped boat more maneuverable around the docks and when trying to get the boat back on the trailer.

The Forward Drive also can be trimmed up and down just like a regular stern drive, which means less wetted area, higher cruising speeds and greater fuel economy. With its dual propellers the Forward Drive also should allow boatbuilders to do more with less horsepower, which is good for fuel economy.

Volvo-Penta North America President Ron Huibers said the company isn’t trying to upset any markets with the new product. They just hope to be able to grow the boating market overall. Perhaps that’s not Volvo-Penta’s intent, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happens.

For more information, Visit Volvo-Penta.

Comments

  1. Hi -

    Love the article about the new Volvo Penta Forward Drive, there is actually a microsite created for this product at: http://www.volvopentaforwarddrive.com/

    Check it out.

    Thanks!

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