Brisbane based Formosa Marine have been turning out quality alloy fishing rigs since 1998. No surprise then to find that their Classic range of craft offers a mix of low maintenance and sheer fishability that sees them very well placed in a highly competitive market.
A close look at the Formosa 480 Side Console, the smallest of the four craft in the range reveals that the 480 has the potential to be right at home anywhere from impoundments to the estuary environment with a run offshore in the right conditions also on the cards thanks to ample freeboard for length, a decent kick in the bow sheerline and a full height transom.
Factory features within the Classic Side Console range include 4mm plate bottom and 3mm plate sides, painted hull with eye catching graphics, sports style side console, a forward casting deck, four seat positions for the paired swivel seats, wide and fully welded side decks, side pockets, full carpeted floor, self-draining anchor well, grab rails, mechanical steering, split bow rail and associated bow sprit and stainless steel roller. Four rod holders plus a 75L underfloor fuel tank are also standard inclusions. In all, it’s quite a comprehensive package and offers a lot for the owner whether a long term or first time boater.
I’d see a couple of anglers fishing up front on the elevated casting deck with ease, their work made easier by the foredeck being rounded at the bow to provide not only extra room but both easy and comfortable anchor access. The craft’s split bow rail would not, in my view, inhibit fishing pursuits but would be appreciated when tending the anchor in rough conditions. A large underfloor storage area, with flat base, is accessed via a forward opening hatch. There were also a pair of seat spigots up front as well.
Side console craft emphasize work area and there is certainly plenty in the 480’s cockpit. With the grab rail and windscreen equipped console tucked to starboard, options include moving one of the craft’s pedestal seats forward, as we did on the day of test runs, or leaving it aft opposite the skipper’s seat. The skipper’s pedestal seat, incidentally, is well placed behind the console to offer plenty of leg room, easy visibility through the windscreen when driving, and a clear view of the console mounted gauges linked to the 60hp Evinrude E-Tec astern. Side mounted controls for the E-Tec were in ideal reach, as were a bank of switches for various functions, these being mounted to starboard of the wheel on a lower section of the console’s front. In all, a very user friendly helm area with everything where it needed to be.
Side pockets were standard: to port being almost 2m long, and to starboard being necessarily smaller due to the console’s location. Other aft features included sensibly low grab rails, paired rod holders to match those up front, and a full width off-floor shelf on which the craft’s engine battery was mounted to with an isolator switch nearby well off the floor.
The craft’s full height transom made for great sea keeping ability but should an owner desire a transom door it’s on the options list along with bait board, live bait tank, deck wash and other items.
Completing the stern treatment was a boarding platform each side of the 60hp E-Tec mounted on the craft’s pod, plus a grab rail in each quarter.
I expected no surprises here, given my experience with Formosa craft previously, and found the 480 Side Console was up to their usual standard so far as ride quality was concerned. Formosa Marine have stuck with a simple formula featuring a bow design that is fine enough to take the impact out of chop encountered at speed while reducing spray from the hull while under way; most important in an open boat.
Handling was entirely predictable. Throwing the craft into tight turns was fun, the hull tracking very smoothly thanks to the generous full length keel and general configuration. The non feed back mechanical steering was light and very responsive.
The 480 side console is rated for engines from 60-90hp which placed the Evinrude 60hp E-Tec at the base of power ratings. Nonetheless the smooth running and smoke free two cylinder 864CC direct injection E-Tec acquitted itself very well so far as getting the craft up onto the plane. Once knocked into gear the 60hp pushed the 460kg rig with two of us aboard onto the plane at 3,100rpm at a speed of 16.8kph. 4,000rpm saw 38.2kph on the hand held GPS with 5,000rpm registering 47kph; 5,500rpm a brisk 53.3kph.
What I did like about the 60hp E-Tec was the rapid response to throttle application, a push on the lever saw the craft surging ahead very rapidly. And yet when the power came off the hull settled down off the plane in very short order as well.
One question arises: how fast would this rig go with a 90hp E-Tec on the transom? Food for thought, that!
Two up or three up, I’d see the 60hp E-Tec as ideal power for the Formosa 480 side console and would probably only advocate more power if regular crew in excess of three persons were likely. Rating is for five folk, incidentally.
The Formosa 480 side console Classic is quite a lot of boat for the money. With a beam of 2.22m, hull depth of 750mm externally and 600mm internally thanks to the full height transom, the 480 offers quite a deal of sea keeping ability. The hull is virtually all work room, with neatly rounded internal corners for comfort and a degree of stability at rest that makes it ideal as a fishing craft for more than two to enjoy. Factory options are on hand for further enhancement of a basically sound package which will suit a lot of anglers. Launch and retrieve from the Redco roller and skid trailer supplied was without any difficulty.
With fully welded side decks, a reinforced floor structure featuring ribs 300mm apart mated to longitudinal bearers, the Formosa 480 Classic, backed by a three year factory structural warranty, is a rigidly built craft with potential for a long and useful fishing life. Overall finish was good, with full welds visible but smoothed, while the paint and graphics were well executed.
With full safety gear plus the smooth 60hp E-Tec the rig, supplied by the Australian Marine Centre of Springwood, would come home for $28,500, which is excellent value. Contact details are phone (07) 3808 7333, fax (07) 3808 7300 or the net at --e-mail address hidden-- .
|Length of hull||4.95m|
|Overall length on trailer||6m|
|Height on trailer||1.9m|
|Hull construction||Plate alloy 4mm bottom, 3mm sides|
|Weight of hull||460kg|
|Engine fitted||90hp Evinrude E-Tec|
|Towing||Family six sedan|