Over one hundred individuals from the boating industry were provided the first glimpse of a new type of drive system by Volvo Penta, aimed in large at the wake surfing market, a growing watersports segment. Prior to the Miami International Boat Show, Volvo Penta's President of the Americas, Ron Huibers, unveiled the industry's first Forward Drive propulsion system (FWD) unit, which includes two, counter-rotating propellers facing forward, positioned over two feet further ahead compared to the engine builder's traditional sterndrive.
Forward Drive is available on engines up to 430hp presently. Boaters will find it available on Volvo Penta's V8 5.7L (300hp, 320hp) and 6.0L (350hp, 380hp, 430hp) models equipped with catalytic converters. However, the company could expand that to other engines in the future.
"We were absolutely thrilled to unveil Forward Drive to this select group of enthusiastic supporters,' said Huibers. "And the beautiful weather set the scene for an incredible afternoon with great people on the water. I am so proud of our talented, cross-functional team for delivering this innovation, and we will remain focused on improving the end result by delivering technology you can feel.'
The forward-facing configuration allows for undisturbed water flow to Volvo Penta's Duoprop system and allows boaters to create customizable wakesurfing waves. Volvo Penta reasons not all family boaters who enjoy wakesurfing are likely to load up a luxury towboat dedicated exclusively to sports applications. Rather, the company anticipates Forward Drive will soon be available on many well-known boat brands building multi-purpose runabouts that could be potentially more affordable.
Following the presentation, media members and industry gurus headed out on the water to experience the Forward Drive system, with four boats already equipped with the new drive system from Bryant, Regal, Four Winns and Chapparal.
The greatest noticeable differences while operating the Forward Drive engine was tighter speed turns – because the dual props are located 26.5 inches (67cm) further forward than on a DPS sterndrive – and more responsive slow-speed manoeuvering around the dock. Overall, the unit's larger active propeller area delivered a comfortable, easy-to-control ride. Forward Drive also nearly eliminates detectable fumes for wake surfers and passengers with the exhaust port located underwater, now that it expels exhaust through the drive. That means less noise and smell for surfers behind the boat.
When combined with power trim, which our Four Winns TS 222 test model had, the driver can quickly customize their wake by maintaining a speed between 10 to 12mph, adjusting the angle of thrust and positioning the tabs. Because the props are positioned further forward on the boat's hull, adjusting trim also serves to create a downward thrust, drawing the stern lower into the water similar
to the effect of added ballast. With an enlarged trim plate, boaters will have the ability to create a great wakesurfing wave.
In case of underwater impacts, Forward Drive has a built-in release function allows the drive to kick-up quickly if it strikes a submerged object, reducing drive damage.
Symbolically, Forward Drive was introduced exactly ten years after Volvo Penta's IPS unit was revealed at the 2005 Miami Boat Show. IPS was the industry's first forward facing inboard propeller system used by yachts and utility vessels from 30 to 100 feet in length. According to Volvo Penta, to date over 17,000 IPS units have been delivered.
Volvo Penta protects its engines with a 2+3 year factory warranty. It has a global service network of 4,000 dealers across 130 countries and service is available around the clock, 365 days a year through the Volvo Penta Action Service hotline.