We sat down with Jim Wolf, president of Avalon & Tahoe Manufacturing, to hear how the market has been responding to the all-new Waketoon Surf Series Pontoon.
Our dealers have been asking for a pontoon wakeboat for about 8 years now, but for that period of time, we had been so busy growing the business and the product line that it was not a top priority for us. Then a few things happened simultaneously that brought the project to fruition.
About two years ago we got a call from a company in Chicago who wanted us to take a look at project they were working on. We went for a visit and saw the project come to life in 3D. It was essentially a sporty pontoon boat, similar to a v-hull; more like a ski boat and not a pontoon.
At the same time, we were contacted by Kris Forrest who was a retired engineer from Lockheed Martin and an avid wake surfer. He had been prototyping some ideas for modifying a pontoon boat to generate a wave for wake surfing. When these two elements converged, coupled with a growing popularity of wakeboats across the industry, a lightbulb went off for us. We had long-term interest from dealers, and now outside influencers who could help us bring this idea of a sporty wakesurf pontoon design to life. The timing felt right to make it happen.
We launched the boat back in January at the Minneapolis Boat Show, where we took home the NMMA Innovation Award in the pontoon category. Just recently, Waketoon was also named one of the Top Products of the Year by Boating Industry magazine. Not to mention, the boat has been featured in several magazines including cover spots in outlets like Pontoon & Deckboat and Great Lakes Scuttlebutt. All of this momentum has certainly generated a lot of interest and consumer demand. We already knew we had a great thing going with Waketoon, but these accolades serve as strong validation from the market.
We’re in the process now of fine-tuning the final design and plan to put the boat into production next month. We’re just excited for people to get out on the water and experience the boat for themselves. There’s a strong demand out there for a high-performance pontoon with wakesurfing capabilities and that’s just what Waketoon delivers.
Waketoon has the unique ability to bring multigenerational families closer together, and that extended family time is something society is probably craving now more than ever. Before, the younger generation in general did not have a strong interest in spending time on their parents’ or grandparents’ pontoon but now with Waketoon, they can jump in and have fun. The other generations can watch as the younger family members wakesurf, but then as soon as surf mode is turned off, the comforts of a normal pontoon like space, stability and performance can still be enjoyed while just cruising around. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The Forward Drive was an instrumental performance characteristic that we needed to make the concept work. We had experience working with Volvo Penta in the past and the company was always great to partner with, so we were excited that they were the ones offering the Forward Drive.
With a relationship already in place, we were able to collaborate from inception to completion of the project. The team was eager and supportive in our efforts to develop this new product and played an important role in bringing the final design to life.
You’ve taken some wild trips on pontoon boats over the years. Can you share some of the top places you’ve been, what the experience was like and if a similar adventure lies ahead for Waketoon?
Our trip to Cuba was extremely interesting because it was a different country. It is very beautiful and the fact that we were able to get there by pontoon boat made the adventure all the more special.
Our latest trip to Lake Superior was one of my favorites. As a lifelong boater and growing up in the Great Lakes, I felt a strong connection to the loss of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and boating in those same waters, especially on a pontoon boat, was an eye-opener to the vulnerabilities of being in the open water. The experience brought back great memories.
We’ve got some ideas up our sleeves for Waketoon, maybe setting our sights on setting some new records. You’ll have to stay tuned.
Want to learn more about the “instrumental performance” of the Forward Drive that Jim said was needed to make Waketoon work?
Forward Drive is an innovative propulsion solution that delivers unmatched levels versatility to accommodate whatever your boating pleasure may be. From cruising to all types of water sports, you can have it all – in one high-performance package.
With the Forward Drive you experience lower noise levels and virtually no fumes since the exhaust fumes are emitted under the water. This equates to a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience on board. The Volvo Penta Duoprop delivers enhanced fuel economy, better maneuverability, greater low-speed handling and fast acceleration.
Take your adventure to the next level with the Volvo Penta Forward Drive.