The new Blue Fin 495 Thundercat fits into the light sports tournament scene quite readily. It’s low slung yet beamy, features a hull with a bit of vee about it without any associated tenderness and the large under-hull pressings ensure stability at rest and sure tracking under way.
I found this craft went very well powered by its 90hp Evinrude E-Tec and I certainly enjoyed the morning’s test runs and could not fault the ride, performance or handling.
Tournament-style fishing boats are big on casting decks. Accordingly, half the internal area of the Blue Fin 495 Thundercat comprises casting decks.
Electric motors are essential and a large pad for a bow-mount electric was set to port.
The forward casting deck is up to 1700mm wide and 2115mm long, enough for a couple of anglers to enjoy their fishing.
The carpeted deck features several lockers, each being devoted to a specific purpose.
The anchor locker was to starboard right up front, followed by a metre-plus locker aft to starboard for use as general storage or tackle.
A similar sized hatch to port gave access to a 2.5m rod locker.
Right aft was a smaller locker ideal for the electric motor battery.
A carpeted step between cockpit and cast deck allowed easy movement, the step also doubling as a neat storage box.
The Thundercat’s cockpit has two strong and very supportive seats for skipper and mate, with another storage area under the small upholstered jump seat between the seats and drink holders in front.
The skipper is treated to a sporty side console topped with a neat windscreen which deflects some slipstream at speed. The tacho and speedo were set into a stylish binnacle with a tread-plate cut-out.
To port of the Teleflex non-feedback helm are trim and fuel gauges and the switch for the Flo Rite livewell pump and aerator controls. To starboard was a bank of switches for various functions and the throttle shift was set into the side.
In all, a sensible driving layout for a sporty craft.
I found the driving position comfortable despite it being a one-size-fits-all sort of installation. Legroom was plentiful.
There were aft-facing rod ramps set outboard of each seat.
Between the seats and the engine well is another casting platform with hatches covering the engine battery to starboard, storage to port and the 90L divided and aerated livewell midships.
All hatches and hinges throughout were very well fitted with some of the neatest joinery work I’ve seen. Blue Fin have obviously set themselves a high standard.
The transom cap has a fuel filler to port and a full-width tread-plate surface on the rear pod, which had a grab rail on each side.
The new Blue Fin sported an excellent standard of finish, including a good paint job plus stylish decals. It looked the part.
With the recommended power 90 E-Tec on the transom the Thundercat’s 430kg hull fairly leaped out of the hole to plane in about its own length.
Careful driving revealed that it would plane at a modest 11.3 knots (21.3kmh) at 2100 rpm. At 3000rpm we saw 20 knots (37.5kmh) on the GPS, at 4000rpm a brisk 29 knots (53.4kmh) and at 5000rpm 37 knots (66kmh).
Good performance, that, but it goes with the territory. Tournament anglers don’t want to waste time getting to a hot spot.
With its fairly shallow 12° Vee I was surprised how well the Thundercat handled, but a look at the hull on the trailer revealed a central keel, six well-formed strakes and a small outer reversed chine on the waterline.
All of these features combined to offer ample grip on the water with the result that the rig could be thrown into some very sharp turns, generating quite exhilarating G-forces without prop slip from the E-Tec. It levelled out after a turn almost immediately, showing its sure tracking ability.
Ride was also surprisingly good. We cut through chop with only minimal impact and the hull certainly did not bang or bash, even when moving quickly. These craft are meant to be driven right on top of any chop on the sheltered waters in which tournament fishing is conducted and the Thundercat certainly achieved that with ease and comfort.
Spray from the fast hull was also deflected well aft, thanks to a large spray chine up front.
Naturally, with a beam of 2.09m, its 4.95m length and a low centre of gravity, the Thundercat was very stable. With two of us standing on one side there was little difference to its level attitude in the water.
The Blue Fin 495 Thundercat fulfils the requirements of a tournament boat admirably. The rig as reviewed was not fitted with nav aids or a sounder but there was certainly room for an owner to install them.
Overall finish was very good, I enjoyed the ride and it was certainly a fun craft to drive.
An upgrade from a 3mm bottom to 4mm would permit a 115hp engine on the transom but there’s no question that the quiet and smooth 90 E-Tec did a great job.
At $34,000 on a well-matched skid-and-roller trailer this rig is very good value for money.
|Hull sides||3mm alloy|
|Bottom||3mm; 4mm optional|
|Towing||Family six or big four|