Reviewed by Richard Crowder
"Welcome to the place where inspiration has combined with dedication to create an American icon since 1874. A Chris-Craft is a boat that moves you even when it is standing still. Without even seeing the name or the trademark ensign flags, you know at first glance you are face-to-face with a legend." The Launch 20, new in 2011 for Chris-Craft, continues this tradition. Most would know it's a Chris-Craft by its lines and looks alone, even without visible identification.
The Launch 20 is the smallest of five in the Launch series of open bow (bowrider) models up to thirty-two feet. Chris-Craft also offers the one-off 20-foot Silver Bullet and Lancer closed-deck models plus four Corsair closed-decks/cuddies/cruisers from twenty-two to thirty-six feet. Also in the line-up are four Catalina centre consoles from twenty-three to twenty-nine feet. That makes a total of fifteen models for 2012. The Launch 32 and the Corsair 36, both the largest of each respective model series, are new for 2012, and both were officially introduced this year after the Toronto International Boat Show.
A Chris-Craft press release announcing the new Launch 20 states, "This smallest entry in our bow rider series will impress you with its luxury class appointments." What is also impressive is that even at only twenty feet long, the Launch 20 still has that "Chris-Craft look." Perhaps it is the distinctive flare of the bow, the angle of the stem, the flair and slope of the deck, the round of the transom, the trademark Chris-Craft tumblehome aft, the custom Chris-Craft gauges not found in any other brand. Perhaps it is even the unique colour combinations. Neophytes would argue it is the custom Chris-Craft embroidered pennant! The classic "Chris-Craft look" is most likely a combination of all of the above and perhaps more. Suffice it to say, knowledgeable boaters will generally always recognize a Chris-Craft, even from a distance.
The reasonably deep-vee 20° deadrise Launch 20 hull is wood-free with full fibreglass structural liner foam filled for flotation and sound deadening. Stainless steel is found everywhere from drinkholders; to the six pop-up mooring cleats; to the inlay along with teak on the deck side accenting; to the stylish, curved windshield frame with centre walk-thru; to the flag poles; to the fuel and water fill plates; to the cockpit handrails, to the engine hatch logo; and even to the bases of the two pedestal bucket seats with attached stainless steel armrests and stainless steel grab rails along the top of the seatbacks.
These two pedestal seats have fore and aft and swivel adjustment and flip-up bolsters. The driver's seat faces a custom Chris-Craft perforated dash with the aforementioned custom gauges and a custom mahogany tilt steering wheel. A dash light dimmer is standard as is a compass and LCD depth finder. The portside helm has a locking glove box which houses the standard Kenwood marine AM/FM stereo with CD, subwoofer, tweeters, and 4-speakers with in-dash remote control. Between these two seats is in-floor storage for watersports accessories.
The U-shaped bow seating has surrounding back bolsters with finished storage below and dedicated anchor storage forward. The stern bench seat is contoured for two persons but would accommodate a third person in the middle. In-floor cooler storage is provided plus more general storage. Hydraulic stays assist the engine hatch opening and a full sunpad adorns its topside. An integral full-beam fibreglass swim platform with 3-step ladder is standard. Many Chris-Craft owners opt for the teak covering for this platform.
There are six standard hull/accent/canvas colour combinations some with image enhancing names such as Palm Beach Yellow, Coach, Toast, Cafe Taupe, Willow Green, Steel Blue, Riviera Red, Sapphire Blue, Spa Green, etc. There are five upholstery colour combinations with your choice of Butter Cream, Ivory Cream, or Coach background colour with the same choices mixed or matched of insert colours.
V-6 and V-8 gasoline sterndrive power from both Volvo Penta and MerCruiser are available for the Launch 20 plus a 200 hp Volvo D3 diesel sterndrive. Chris-Craft reports the 260 hp MerCruiser 5.0 L MPI produces a cruise speed of 29 MPH at 3000 RPM and a top speed of over 54 MPH at WOT of 4950 RPM. Choose the optional Selectable Exhaust and "The sound of our engines reverberating at idle has been likened to the snarl of a caged animal waiting to be unleashed."
In its own words describing the Launch 20, "At Chris-Craft, great things come in small packages."
|Length:||20' 2"||6.15 m|
|Beam:||7' 11"||2.41 m|
|Draft:||2' 10"||87 cm|
|Dry weight:||2913 lbs||1321 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||34 US gals||129 l|
|Engine / Drive:||MerCruiser 5.0L Alpha I Sterndrive|