By the numbers alone, the success of Sunsation Powerboats is impressive. Just three years after the Algonac, Mich., company introduced its 32 CCX performance center console, hull No. 60 is in the mold. According to Wayne Schaldenbrand, who owns the company with his brother, Joe, and partners Jared Morris and Kyle Miller, Sunsation currently builds one 32-footer—in addition to its 34-foot sibling—a week. And though it has taken a little longer than anyone involved imagined, a 39-footer is on the way.
“The interest in the 39 is almost overwhelming,” said Joe Schaldenbrand. “We have four or five solid commitments and at least five more potential buyers waiting to see the finished product. We should have the first one completed by June, and from there we plan to build one a month.”
But the bigger story of Sunsation—and most high-performance powerboat enthusiasts know it—is how center console production saved the company. When its sportboat sales dwindled and eventually died, Sunsation reinvented itself as a performance-oriented center console company with its “Center Console Xtreme” line.
Sunsation added the 32 CCX to fit between its 29- and 34-foot models, and thanks to loyal dealers, in particular Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach, Mo., it became an instant hit. Standard power for the 32-footer is twin Mercury Marine Verado 350 or Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines.
“I’d say about 85 percent of the buyers go for the 350s with the 32 CCX,” said Schaldenbrand. “It’s the same with the 34 CCX, only those are triples.”
To say that Sunsation has production of its CCX line dialed in is an understatement.
“They are a lot less complicated to build than sportboats,” said Schaldenbrand “When we go water testing now, we don’t a take toolbox the way we used sportboat to with sportboats. We take a computer.”
On that subject—the future of Sunsation sportboat production—Schaldenbrand and his partners are resolute. They have neither the time nor the desire to build them. It’s a business-driven decision, and despite the occasional pang of nostalgia, everyone is OK with it.
“I get a lot of inquiries but I still tell people no,” said Schaldenbrand. “We can build and sell two or three center consoles, at least, in the time it would take us to build one sportboat. I don’t think we’re ever going to build another sportboat.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.