Vessel Walk Through
The Chaparral 400 Premiere was named the "boat of the year" in 2008. The most obvious feature that sets this boat apart from the others is what goes on up front. The graceful pointed bow found on most boats is there to give a smooth ride by gently splitting the water. Unfortunately, it's also a space robber -- shrinking the cabin as it tapers forward. It's just another one of those compromises in boat design you have to accept. Until now. The 400 Premiere challenges that concept with a new type of bow for cruisers that adds room forward without sacrificing the quality of the ride. Sponsons have been added on each side of the bow about a foot above the chines. This adds width where the interior needs it most -- between the sole and deck -- giving the 400 Premiere the largest forward cabin of any available cruiser of similar length.
Chaparral calls it a Wide-Tech Bow. Viewed from above, it would be easy to label it a pickle fork. Don't. The boat's chine beam is 12'8", which is typical for cruisers this size. From the waterline down, it's a smooth-riding V. The sponsons only protrude from the topsides, well above the waterline, appearing as a three-pronged shape on the foredeck with two false stems. Besides the added room, this shape should also knock down spray and add reserve buoyancy if the bow should dig into a big roller. In all, a clever idea.
The bow isn't the only reason to cheer the 400 Premiere. It has a coupe top with an integral windshield and an electric skylight ($10,000) option, providing all-weather comfort on the helm deck. Its cabin decor is unique to the production cruiser market, too. Powered by Volvo Penta IPS, it provides great efficiency, performance, and docking. Plus it's finished, fitted, and equipped like the best cruisers out there.
The cabin sole is a dark, grainy hardwood. Doors and cabinets are rich walnut, and a brushed stainless-steel counter. The cabin is illuminated by portholes and deadlights (that's fixed windows to the nautically challenged), as well as by skylights and hatches in the deck. At night, a combination of direct and indirect LED lighting provides warm illumination.
The 400 Premiere has two heads. Forward you'll find a separate toilet and shower rooms, and aft is a single head with a shower stall. Although the decor is cool, the real surprise comes when you open a cabinet. There's enough depth to stow folded towels, not rolled ones. And when you open the head door, it swings wide so you don't need to slip through it sideways. The hanging locker is huge and cedar-lined. The 400 Premiere cabin is bigger than the cabins I've seen on some 45' cruisers.
Topside, bow access along the side decks and the wide working space on the fore-deck are, again, best in class. Cockpit action centers around the wet bar abaft the helm. Its bi-level counter, with an 11⁄2" reveal, incorporates a stainless-steel sink, icemaker, and 20" retractable LCD TV. The helm deck is on one level, which I like better as a safety factor (one less thing to stumble over) than boats that force you to step up and down. Aft is a lounge that converts to a sun pad transom bench. This lounge also lifts electrically to reveal the engine room. White fiberglass bilges reflect light so well that you can spot the tiniest drip. Seacocks at the foot of the ladder make for no-reach access. Batteries stowed on a rack on center-line are easily replaced.