Nick Burnham puts the gorgeous Chris-Craft Launch 36 through the ringer in moody Italian conditions
It was a very different story to its heyday when Elvis Presley and Katherine Hepburn cruised on beautiful mahogany Chris-Craft motor boats the equal of Riva. It seemed a heritage squandered – certainly that was the view of Stephen Julius when he bought the business in 2001.
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Realising the potential of the brand, he created ‘heritage boats’, timelessly styled runabouts from 20 to 36 feet in four distinct model lines.
Latest and largest of the ‘Launch’ (bowrider) line is this Launch 36. It emphatically ticks that beautiful elegant styling box from its reverse transom to its almost erotically flared bow. This boat has ‘want one’ stamped all over it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all that form is at the expense of function though. This is a boat designed for life afloat. Two curved sofas occupy the rear of the cockpit, easily catered for by the large galley unit just aft of the helm whilst a folding table rises electrically from the cockpit sole at the touch of a button. Three diamond quilted helm seats embossed with a stitched Chris-Craft logo face the helm.
But you need to head forward again to really appreciate the functionality of the deck layout. Inset side decks over 20cm wide lead past a huge sunbed securely sunken into the deck head whilst right at the front a neat bow seat turns this area into a terrific intimate social area.
Or lift the sunpad on its twin gas struts and fold out a padded infill to link the two into one massively indulgent sundeck. Sunbeds on the foredeck of a mid-thirty foot boat are nothing new of course, it’s those side decks that are key, along with the sunken nature of the pad itself.
It transforms this area into a zone that you’ll happily let your kids wander up and down unaided at anchor. That’s if you can get them away from the inflatable water toys stored in various locations around the decks.