Campion Boats of Kelowna. B.C., has built a solid reputation in North America and beyond by keeping ahead of the sportboat crowd, not just keeping up with it.
From a design point of view, we can thank Neil Gilbert for that. One of the most innovative designers in recreational boating, Gilbert used to be on staff at Campion; now an independent, he still does design work for the company.
When we think of Campion and Gilbert, we think of signatures and breakthroughs. Gilbert gave Campion a distinctive style and "look." One of those signatures is the moulded-in foredeck docking lights. As for breakthroughs, one was the modified-V Apex hull, with a convex pad that boosts performance and handling, giving Campion's sportboats higher top speeds as well as better mileage.
Another of the breakthroughs came in 1998 with the 705, a cuddy-cabin with a raised, U-shaped aft bench seat. The design eliminated the aft sunlounge but created a "back seat" that was one of the best seats on the boat. Instead of being tucked down out of the action, seeing nothing, people in the back seat could experience everything.
Campion's new 645i SC is a development or an evolution of that concept. The new cuddy cabin is smaller, with a 23'1" (7.02 m) overall length, measuring 21'1" on the centreline.The space, however, seems to have been given up mainly in the cuddy cabin.
The 645i SC cuddy cabin is pretty basic - a 6' V-berth with a pumpout chemical toilet mounted out of sight under the V area. The cabin is a place where you can retreat to take care of the call of nature and a place to retreat for a nap during a day-cruise.
The cockpit, though, is where the boat really shows off its design breakthroughs.
There are swiveling bucket seats at the helm and companion positions, with a U-shaped bench seat aft.
Then things get interesting.
Sportboats these days are also, invariably, used for watersports. That means people need a way to get from the cockpit to the swim platform - which could better be called a watersports launchpad. The 645i provides a walkway aft across its port quarter, along with a flip-up seatpad that also provides a step.
Watersports these days also means wakeboarding, so the boat provides a seat just ahead of the launchpad, where riders can don their boards in comfort. There are also two huge lockers in the port and starboard quarters, capable of holding a couple of wakeboards each. Riders who are into wakeboarding these days all have to bring their own boards, so that space is needed.
Boarders sometimes even bring their own tow-ropes, so a wet-locker just forward of the aftermost seat has room for several ropes.
There's plenty of general storage space in the cockpit.To starboard, there's a special space under the aft bench seat for a portable cooler. It's very convenient - the cooler is easy to bring aboard, yet out of the way once put into its place.
The test boat was powered by MerCruiser's 350 MAG MPI, a 300-hp, 5.7-litre V-8 with multipoint fuel injection that offers performance along with reliability. On the water, it translates into a top speed of 50.5 mph as measured on GPS. An ideal cruising speed is a comfortable 28 mph, at 3,000 rpm.The APEX hull guarantees top performance in acceleration, speed and handling.
Like all Campion sportboats, the 645i is sure to lead the way.
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