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Avalon Goes Wild With Carbon Fiber In Excalbur Series

Stroll the Fort Myers Boat Show, set this year for November 9-12, on the shores of the famed Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida, and you’ll come across four 27-foot Avalon Excalibur pontoon boats supplied by WMF Watercraft and Marine. One beauty will be equipped with twin Mercury Racing 500R V-8 outboard engines, another will boast a pair of the Fond du Lac, Wis., company’s 400R V-10 outboards. Twin Mercury Marine 350 Verado outboards will grace the transom of another 27-footer, while—last but far from least—one will be set up with a single 400R V-10 mill.

With its reimagined Excalibur series, Avalon Pontoons has brought extensive use of carbon fiber into the pontoon-boat world. Photos courtesy/copyright Avalon Boats.

Of course, all of those propulsion packages are options for the 27-foot Excalibur tri-toon, which is among the Alma, Mich., company’s most popular offerings.

But here’s what’s not optional for the Excalibur model, even the 25-foot version: carbon fiber super structure. With the exception of required hardware and deck elements, everything above the triple-tubes that form the boat’s hull is carbon fiber—including the tower. And it comes standard with the Excalibur series.

“Avalon is the first pontoon-boat manufacturer to use carbon fiber in this capacity,” said Miranda Doan, the company’s director of marketing. “It’s not just carbon fiber accents—the exterior body design consists of a complete carbon fiber structure including the power carbon tower.”

“Since eliminating the heavy-duty aluminum and fiberglass walls and tower that were part of the previous Excalibur series, this is now standard construction for the new Excalibur line,” she continued. “It’s truly an innovation in our segment of the marine industry. And it’s never been done before.”

The builder focused on automotive styling and function at the boat’s reimagined helm station.

The move from conventional fiberglass to carbon fiber in these areas has exactly nothing to do with weight savings, an often-cited advantage of the material in the high-performance powerboat world. The weight reduction is negligible and wasn’t a design or engineering goal, according to Avalon president Duane Dinninger, who started with the company as the vice-president of operations almost 20 years ago and still plays a significant role in Avalon’s project engineering.

Using the material, Dinninger explained, created manufacturing efficiencies that led to greater throughput.

“We were able to reduce the number of components required that were inherent to using fiberglass,” he said. “Carbon fiber also has structural advantages over fiberglass. Not only is it thicker, it has uniform thickness.

“The weight savings, such as it is, is just an extra benefit,” he added.

A closer look at the sidewall detail.

As least for the immediate future, Avalon buyers won’t be able to order Excalibur with carbon fiber’s naturally exotic exposed weave-pattern All carbon fiber parts are painted, and the color options are extensive.

At issue, according to Dinninger, is protection from the elements.

“Our boats are warrantied for 10 years and the clearcoats available now for carbon fiber only offer eight years of protection,” he said. “But it’s something we plan to work on and hope to be able to offer in the future.”

Though Avalon dealers got their first look at the carbon-fiber equipped Avalon models in mid-summer, the general public will see them for the first time at the Fort Myers happening next month.

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A looker from any angle.

“We are running an event at the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill in Cape Coral (Fla.) at the same time as the Fort Myers Show,” said Doan. “So we want to encourage anyone who goes to the show to also come down to the Boat House for demo rides courtesy of WMF Watercraft and Marine. We’ll have more details to announce as both events gets closer.

“We did a lot of really cool stuff with this boat, like with the integrated addressable RGB lighting system,” she continued. “Most RGB systems use chips that illuminate collectively. These can be illuminated separately. They can ‘dance’ in 25 different colors. It’s wild.”

Doan paused, then laughed.

“We went balls to the walls with this one,” she quipped, then laughed again.

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