These days, most every boatbuilder is talking quality. But while the industry as a whole is producing much better boats today than it was a few years ago, no other company takes its devotion to the extreme levels that American Skier is now known for.
The man responsible for this reputation is Ron Tanis, an engineer and former member of the WaterSki Magazine Test Team, who was first involved in American Skier during the company's banner years in the 1980s. Following several years of corporate reorganization and revitalization at American Skier, Tanis is back on board and at the helm, and the company is starting to recapture its market share and reclaim its long-standing reputation for building some of the most durable, reliable ski boats in the world.
If you have ever wondered what would happen if an engineer with a passion for excellence were put in charge of a boat company, you need look no further than the 1998 line of American Skiers for the answer. While all ski boats must meet minimum Coast Guard standards, and a number of manufacturers earn the somewhat more demanding NMMA certification, only American Skier strives to meet the stringent demands of certification by the American Boat & Yacht Council. These are the same exacting standards that many commercial passenger vessels meet, and earning the ABYC stamp of approval means a builder has complied with safety and quality regulations that most ski-boat builders have never even heard of.
Tanis not only builds American Skier to this higher standard, but also fabricates the hulls of better materials. Aircraft-grade structural foam is used as a core material in the stringers and deck, and the lamination schedule calls for AME 5000 resin and tridirectional fabric. A material known as Trevira replaces Coremat in the lay-up, resulting in a finished product that is approximately 500 pounds lighter, yet has a higher strength-to-weight ratio. To allow the materials to fully cure and to ensure that each boat retains the proper and perfect shape, the lamination schedule calls for the hull to remain in the mold for a full five days while interior components are bonded into place.
American Skier's Volante is a traditional, all-event open-bow tow boat that incorporates some unexpected features such as a pylon rope protector, 4-gallon reserve gas tank and a fold-up rear seat that converts to an oversize sun pad with storage below. Under the engine box, the 315-hp Marine Power engine is cooled by a thermostat-controlled fan – a feature that prevents fuel starvation, a problem that plagues some fuel-injected engines running on the oxygenated gasolines now on the market.
On the water, the Volante demonstrated sub-six-second acceleration, excellent tracking and precise handling. Good human engineering was evident in all areas of the dashboard and controls, and the boat delivered sufficient power and speed for all skiing disciplines.
While our boarders were satisfied with the way the low-speed wakes shaped up, it was our slalom team that was most pleased with the Volante. This is one of the few open-bow boats at the 1998 tests to earn tournament and world-class scores for tracking ability, wake size, shape and hardness at both 34 and 36 mph slalom speeds.
Categories: Ski Boats