The most fitting descriptive that comes to mind when considering the 2002 Chris-Craft 25 Launch is "trophy boat."

The most fitting descriptive that comes to mind when considering the 2002 Chris-Craft 25 Launch is "trophy boat."

Boats are often broken down into categories: runabouts, bowriders, sportfishers, cuddy cabins, cruisers, etc. Such distinctions, which are clearly based on the primary function of each boat, make it easier to tell one from the other. It's a great little system, especially for boating articles — most of the time, that is.

Sometimes, a boat comes along that doesn't quite fit so neatly into one of these narrowly defined boating personalities. A salient example is the 2002 Chris-Craft 25 Launch.

The traditional definition of a launch is sort of a putt-putt boat that was used to transport passengers and crew from a large ship to shore. One quick look and you'll see that the 2002 Chris-Craft 25 Launch is much more than a mere "launch." To add to the confusion, it has all the functions of a runabout and a bowrider; however, labeling it either/or would be unjust.

When existing terminology fails to adequately describe something new, it is time to create a new term. And the most fitting descriptive that comes to mind when considering the 2002 Chris-Craft 25 Launch is "trophy boat," partly because of how it attracts a rather select breed of boat buyers.

They want the best and are willing to pay for it, said Paul Frantz with Pedigree Marine in Newport Beach, California, who was on hand for our test of the 25 Launch. The base price is around $50,000, but with all the bells and whistles, it can reach well over $80,000 — hence, the term "trophy boat."

Nostalgia at Its Best

It may sound like a lot of clams for a 25 foot boat, but then again, this isn't your ordinary 25-footer. For starters, it looks like it could be the star attraction at the Concours d' Elegance classic boat show.

Borrowing the legendary boat designs that made Chris-Craft famous more than 75 years ago, engineers worked diligently to capture a look reminiscent of a bygone era. Pinstriped teak caprails and decks, copious brightwork and even the universally recognized Chris-Craft burgee all add up to a classic look, which happens to be couched in a technologically modern package. The building materials and other components are all top of the line.

Our test boat was equipped with the optional 375 hp Volvo Penta 8.1L Gi with a Duoprop drive, but the most heart-pounding option would be the 425 hp MerCruiser 496 MAG HO.

On test day, there was a good wind blowing in from the sea, and the Pacific was beginning to kick up and send most boats scurrying for the harbor. The 25 Launch, however, didn't seem to mind the chop. We cranked out 56 mph at 4,600 rpm, and the ride, while expectedly rough, was solid and secure. Turning in the soup was equally solid, likely thanks to standard power steering.

"The people who buy these boats expect them to immediately do exactly what they tell them to do — even the slightest slop in the wheel would send them off in search of a different boat," Frantz said.

Another thing we noticed while out in the rough stuff was how dry the ride was — not one drop made it inside. This, Frantz said, is due to the exaggerated flare of the bow, which adds to the boat's classic look.

The instrumentation at the helm is what you'd expect from a boat with this kind of sticker price. Faria gauges designed with an old-world appeal are the norm and are set against a perforated panel of stainless steel to add to the look. The controls for the hydraulic trim tabs (standard) are close at hand, near the tilt steering wheel.

The view from the cockpit is pleasant through the curved glass windshield, but we found we liked it even more propped up on the bolster seat, which also helped complete that whole wind-in-the-hair equation that makes boating so much fun.

Retro Elegance

After we'd had enough wind and chop, we turned back into Newport Harbor, which, with its 45 minute no-wake zone back to the marina, gave us plenty of time to take a look around the boat.

The base model of the 25 Launch actually doesn't have a ton of classic appeal. This is where the optional Heritage Package ($16,478) comes in, which includes pinstriped teak on just about every horizontal surface to be found, dual stainless steel horns, a stainless engine vent with logo, stainless cockpit drains and chrome-plated bronze inspection hatches.

Obviously, the Heritage Package is a must-have for boaters looking to achieve that retro classic look, and Frantz informed us that it's uncommon for one of these boats to be sold minus this package. Still, even the base boat with only standard equipment would be nothing to scoff at. A laundry list of standard amenities that includes hydraulic trim tabs, automatic bilge pumps (2), a transom shower and a wet bar goes a long way to show that Chris-Craft is first and foremost committed to building a quality, high-end boat — along with the ability to deck it out in classic fashion if so desired.

For 2002, the 25 Launch is one of three retro choices from Chris-Craft. The others are a 22 foot model and a 28 foot model. There's not much of a difference in the look of these three boats, but the use of each varies widely. The 22 Launch is best suited for lake use, such as Lake Tahoe, where the conditions can get a little dicey with the wind, but not too severe. The 25 Launch is great for the lake or ocean, and can handle open coastal conditions — up to a point. The 28, which is a full 18 inches wider in the beam than the 22 and 25, is certainly the most robust package available so far and is the best choice for the dedicated coastal ocean boater.

Even though it would seem these boats would sell mostly to those who happen to have waterfront property with parking for a boat, that's not the case. About half the boats Frantz has sold have been toted off on a trailer, and there are plenty of matching trailer options for those interested.

Word is that Chris-Craft, which is under a relatively new ownership dedicated to restoring the company to its former glory, is planning to produce similarly classic 50 to 60 foot boats. So, it looks like some people might have to clear out some room dockside for some even bigger trophies.—Michael Telleria

Chris-Craft 25 Launch Specifications
Draft w/drive down3'7"
Dry weight (approx.)4400 pounds
Fuel capacity88 gallons
Maximum power420 hp
Base price with Volvo Penta 5.7L Gi$53,646
Price at tested with Volvo Penta 8.1L Gi DP-S (Duoprop drive) and optional Heritage Package(approx.) $85,000

Estimated Performance
Top speed56 mph
Cruising speed40 mph
Miles per gallons at 24-mph cruising speed2.6
Fuel cost for 100 miles$54.62
Range at 24 mph cruise228 miles

(Fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.42 per gallon.)

Engine Specifications
ModelVolvo Penta 8.1L Gi DP-S (Duoprop drive)
Propshaft horsepower375
Displacement496 c.i.d.
Bore and stroke4.25" x 4.37"
Gear ratio1.95:1
Compression ratio9.1:1
Maximum engine speed4,600 rpm
Weight1,258 pounds

Standard Features

Chris-Craft custom burgee pennant, boarding ladder, hydraulic trim tabs, stainless steel bow light fixture w/pop-up cleat, stainless pop-up cleats, entertainment center w/wet bar and storage, flip-up bucket seats, lockable glove box, port and starboard entry steps, portside ski locker, removable carpeting, self-draining cockpit, transom shower, adjustable helm seat, Clarion AM/FM CD stereo w/four speakers and in-dash remote control, compass, gauge package, depth finder, faux aluminum steering wheel, power steering, tilt wheel, pressure water system w/9 gallon capacity, chrome over bronze through-hull fittings.

Optional Features

Battery charger, bow cover, bow filler cushion, CE certification, Clarion six-disc CD changer, cockpit cover, cockpit refrigerator, fire extinguisher system, Heritage Package, lifting rings, oil drip pan, repair kit, selectable through-hull exhaust, stainless steel windshield, teak swim platform, U.S. flag kit, portable head w/enclosure, dockside pumpout, dual battery boxes w/switch and isolator.

For more information

Chris Craft Corp.
8161 15th St. East
Sarasota, FL 34243
(941) 351-4900