2004 Chevrolet Avalanche 4WD - Wake Slider's Wild Rides
A Double Throw-Down Setup
Catching air off a monstrous wake, twisting and turning in every direction while airborne is the life of a professional wakeboarder. Intense practice sessions, long hours on the road and in the water, and the ability to take risks when performing tricks is what it takes to be successful in the world of professional wakeboarding. Not only does this profession take intense skill and coordination when grabbing onto the rope, but it also takes dedication. It is the commitment to get up one more time when your arms feel like they are going to fall off that separates the professional from the amateur.
Brian Francis from Lake Havasu City, Arizona, has made his life's work soaring through the air on a wakeboard and spends much of his day-to-day time perfecting tricks and getting the water time necessary to continue his impressive professional track record. For Brian, looking professional in the water is his top priority, but the impression he leaves on spectators, sponsors, and fans starts far before he enters the water. Rolling up to the ramp at any aquatic paradise in style is a goal most boating and water sports enthusiasts seek to achieve, and as a professional wakeboarder, Brian is no different. As the sport demands intense practice sessions at all hours of the day, Brian needed a high-quality craft to facilitate his cloud-scraping trick sessions, and turned to the professionals at MasterCraft Boats in Venore, Tennessee, to lay up a 22-footer from their X-Star line.
To anyone who has spent a fair amount of time immersed in the realm of recreational boating, the name MasterCraft is extremely high on the custom boating food chain. The company's high standard of quality performance, styling, and construction is poured into every craft that is extracted from its vast assortment of molds. Not only is MasterCraft recognized as the perfect choice for the family man and water sports enthusiast, but it is also the powerful and impressive history of MasterCraft Boats that sets them apart from other performance ski boat companies on the market. Starting more than 35 years ago, the company's first boats were constructed in a vacant stall in a horse barn.
According to company President and CEO John Dorton, "We weren't happy with the ski boats on the market at the time so we decided to build our own. There was no other motivation than to give ourselves a better boat to ski behind. It just so happened that others agreed our boat was better, so they bought it. As we sold one boat, we built a new one. Soon, a passing hobby became a thriving business."
What was once a small business operated out of the confines of a small horse barn has grown into a boat-building mecca operated on a 225,000-square-foot facility with advanced CAD/CAM technology. The company has indeed come a long way and continues to be the number one choice for professional and recreational water sport enthusiasts. Getting back to one of the company's most impressive models, the X-Star packs everything a pleasure boater, skiing, and wakeboarding enthusiast could want in a quality vessel. Measuring 22 feet, 3 inches from bow to stern, the X-Star is packed with plenty of seating and storage. Even more impressive is the Pro Wakeboard Tour X-Star, which features a host of MasterCraft By Design aftermarket parts designed especially for professional wake carvers such as Brian Francis.
Brian's boat is a stunning example of the Pro Wakeboard Tour X-Star, and features billet chrome thru-hull fittings for the bilge, ballast, horn, and vents. A stainless gunnel cap stretches 50 feet around the rub rail, while fiery custom graphics blaze along a bright-red gel-coated backdrop. A pure-white cap transitioning into red at the tail-end of the boat breaks up the exterior looks, giving the craft some additional dimension and class. The unique custom graphics designed by the folks at Universal Products really brings the hull to life both in and out of the water, while tricks like billet fuel fill covers and MasterCraft By Design billet aluminum vent covers give the boat that true custom feel.
Not only is Brian's boat impressive from the topside, but a glance underneath reveals some quality hardware guaranteed to hold up under rigorous use. Underneath the AP-1 hull (Anything's Possible) is a MasterCraft By Design stainless steel strut, propeller, rudder, and twin exhaust tips. Moving into the interior a state-of-the-art audio system comprised of 6 Polk-Momo speakers and a subwoofer sets the mood for some high-flying and rail-grabbing action when Brian enters the water. To get musical selections elevated a bit higher, the custom wakeboard tower from 13th Floor Wakeboard Towers wears four bullet-shaped billet speaker housings stuffed with Polk-Momo speakers. This impressive audio ensemble maintains clarity and performance with the help of 400-watt and 600-watt JL Audio amplifiers. While the audio system certainly packs an impressive punch, there is a lot to be said for the stout mill lurking under the hatch of Brian's boat. Pushing the boat to perfect wakeboarding and water skiing speeds is a GM Vortec H.O. (high output) 6000 marinized by Indmar from GM Vortec Engines. This smooth running package is fit with enhanced pistons, calibration, and displacement over its 5.3L brethren to meet the constant rpm demands in a performance boat application. The look, feel, and performance of the Pro Wakeboard Tour X-Star are confirmed the minute the throttle is cracked and the steering is activated. The boat glides and cuts through the water with ease and the unique ballast system allows the driver to shape the wake to the wakeboarder's liking. Bringing the wake down for cruising mode or enhancing its height for show-and-launch mode is a convenience offered only by MasterCraft.
While the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour X-Star provides owners with exceptional power, handling, and audio artillery, the buck does not stop there. The professionals at MasterCraft made sure the boat could excel in the comfort department, and featured plenty of storage for those extra-long days on the lake. Up front, a cooler compartment provides enough space to ice down several of Brian's favorite beverages, while deep storage under the open bow seating surfaces provides enough room to stow away two wakeboards. The way the boat's interior is designed, with plenty of out-of-sight storage for boards, ropes, drinks, and sunblock, ensures there will be no more awkward tripping over boat paraphernalia housed in the walkway.
The folks at MasterCraft also believe getting your craft to the water safely and in style should be a priority, and put just as much care into building Brain's trailer as they did in constructing the boat. The bright-red dual-axle hauler is laden with 14-inch chrome-plated wheels mated to twin torsion axles. The respected MasterCraft name is displayed in white on the trailer rails, while the fenders serve as a perfect mounting pad for chrome X-Series badges.
Moving onto the tow vehicle part of this impressive combination, Brian chose an '04 Chevrolet Avalanche 4WD to yank his boat to the lake in style. Obviously, with the caliber of custom quality that existed on the boat, leaving the Avalanche stock was not an option. Already fit with a Vortec 5300 V-8 engine, the truck was certainly up to the towing demands of Brian's intense summer tour schedule, but it needed the same off-the-hook custom style present on the boat. Enter the Truckin' staff and our disease for modifying anything that has rolled off a dealership lot untouched. We hooked up with Brian and discussed his custom wishes for the Avalanche, arriving at the decision to add a bold lift, custom wheels and rubber, an ear-pounding audio system, a host of custom graphics designed to match the boat, and a vast array of officially licensed Chevy accessories available from GM Dealers.
The versatility of the Avalanche is a perfect fit for Brian's active lifestyle, allowing him to carry a full load of gear and get to his tour stops in style and comfort. The Chevrolet Avalanche definitely appeals to a youth market - with a focus on the outdoor individual. Beginning with stance, the stock height of Brian's Bow Tie tow rig was elevated at Aggressive Suspensions in Anaheim, California, where a 6-inch Fabtech Suspension lift was installed. To match the bold look of the new lift, a set of 18x10-inch Weld Wheels Super Single Sidewinder wheels were obtained and shoehorned onto Nitto 325/65R18 Terra Grappler rubber. The lift and new shoes established the truck's attitude, but the stock red basecoat needed some graphics to help kick the look off a bit.
To match the intricate graphic scheme present on the boat, the Avalanche was delivered to En Fuego Industries Incorporated in San Diego, where owner Yusef Hussainy computer-designed, cut, and applied the custom X-Series MasterCraft graphics with flames and the main sponsor's logos. Black tear-away graphics adorn the nose of the truck and flow into the X-Series MasterCraft logo with flames, which blaze into the back door region.
After Yusef finished working his magic on the kick-tail graphics the truck was delivered to North County Mobil Electronics in Oceanside, California, for an ear-piercing take-no-prisoners audio system to entertain Brian on his road time between wakeboarding exhibitions. The command center for the amazing audio artillery features a stock GM Delco CD deck featuring XM radio that feeds jams to two sets of MM 6 Polk-Momo two-way component speakers encased in a custom-paint-matched red-fiberglass pod, mounted in each front-door panel. The rear doors house Polk-Momo MMC5250 two-way component speakers mounted in custom-built speakers pods. The Polk Audio performance and Momo Racing style are blended together in this attractive and quality-built product. Handling the bass are two 10-inch Polk-Momo MM104 subwoofers enclosed in a custom-built pass-through box, mounted in the midgate area and sealed with spray-on bedliner material. Powering the wide array of audio artillery is one Polk-Momo C400.4 four-channel amplifier and two C500.1 Class D Monoblock subwoofer amplifiers. An aftermarket equalizer was mounted down below in the center console and serves to control all of the audio outputs, while two Polk Audio amplifiers mounted under the backseat supply ample power to run the audio artillery. A pair of Polk Audio crossovers protect the speakers from blow out during Brian's high-volume hours of highway time. A healthy amount of 2-gauge cable was used to power the Polk Audio amplifiers. For rear-seat passengers, two Vizualogic 7-inch headrest TV monitors were mounted in the front-seat headrests to make road time fade away. Delivering images to these Vizualogic 7-inch screens is the factory Avalanche's overhead DVD player.
After the truck returned home from down south, a few Truckin' staff members made the trek out to Lake Elsinore, California, to meet up with Chuck Sacks of California Skier, who brought out Brian's boat for us to hook to the back of the Avalanche. After several months of coordination work, the boat and truck came together as one attractive image in front of our lenses. Special thanks goes out to Chevrolet, GM Vortec Engines, Weld Wheel Industries, Nitto Tires, En Fuego Industries Incorporated, North County Mobile Electronics, Polk Audio-Momo, Fabtech Suspension, Aggressive Suspensions, and MasterCraft Boats for the participation in and commitment to the project. Thanks to this immaculately detailed combination, Brian will look like a professional before he even hits the water.
Polk AudioBaltimore, MD 21215
Weld Wheel IndustriesKansas City, MO 64101
Fabtech MotorsportsBrea, CA 92821
VizuaLogicCorona, CA 92879
13th Floor Wakeboard Towers Inc.Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
Aggressive Suspension & AccessoriesAnaheim, CA 92806
En Fuego Industries Inc.San Diego, CA 92123
MasterCraft BoatsVonore, TN 37885
North County Mobile ElectronicsOceanside, CA 92054