With the release of a 36-foot sportboat in 2011 and the ongoing development of a 34-foot center console slated for introduction sometime this year, Sunsation Performance Boats of Algonac, Mich., hasn’t exactly been slouching in terms of new model debuts. But the semi-custom high-performance boatbuilder has also been creating fresh variations on existing themes.

Sunsation’s first 32 XRT with a mid-cabin and an open bow reportedly runs 87 mph.

Sunsation’s first 32 XRT with a mid-cabin and an open bow reportedly runs 87 mph.

Originally designed with a conventional twin-bolster, four-person bench cockpit configuration, Sunsation’s 36-foot Dominator got its first customer-requested makeover less than a year after its unveiling. The boat’s buyer wanted to add two more bolsters without losing the rear bench. So Sunsation had to extend the length of 36-footer’s cockpit by three feet, which meant losing space in the engine compartment.

“We’ll have to install the engines—the customer is going with Mercury Racing 525EFIs—side by side rather than staggered,” said Wayne Schaldenbrand, who co-owns Sunsation with his brother, Joe. “All of the engine installations in the 36s so far have been staggered, which is great for performance but takes up an awful lot of space.

"We made special cockpit tooling for it,” he added. “We think having four bolsters as an option will be attractive to other customers as well.”

More recently, Sunsation created a mid-cabin version of its popular 32 XRT model, which was released several years ago and features driver and co-pilot station “pods” with F-16-style quarter canopies. Once again, the modification came was born out of a customer request.

The 32-footer was originally designed, and until now has always been built, as a closed-deck sportboat. But with an open bow area, a space for shelter from the elements, and no compromise of cockpit space, the layout actually expands the boat’s versatility with little to no compromise of its performance. Powered by twin MerCruiser 8.2 Mag HO engines, the boat reportedly reached 87 mph.

"We blueprinted the bottom and are using lab-finished 32-inch pitch Bravo wheels," Schaldenbrand said. "We've got the boat set up for the owner—we've even labeled exactly where to put the tabs and where the trim limit is, so there's no guesswork.”

Written by: Matt Trulio
Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.