Every boat ever built was designed with a core purpose in mind. Boats that are specifically built with die hard anglers considered front and centre are the boats that I love the most, and so it was with some excitement that I accepted the opportunity to take the Tournament 1800 out for a run. I’d been hearing glowing reports on these hulls for some time and was looking forward to experiencing the ride and sussing the layout and practicality of the whole package in the flesh.
Having fished out of numerous 5.5m fishing boats across the years I can quite confidently say that boats in this class really are what fishers from all walks of offshore experience should consider when seeking a new boat that’s not too big to be launched and retrieved solo, yet still provides ample space to take a swag of mates out and get stuck into some serious angling.
As far as looks go the 1800 is going to turn heads wherever it goes, just like that girlfriend I once had, although this mistress definitely a better deal. Priced to deliver a competitive package in a tough market, there is no skimping on quality as a result from all I could see and tell.
Jumping on board as if I was heading out for a fish, I arrived arms loaded with rods for any possibly adversary, a large landing net and my usual heavy bag of tackle. It is always a good idea to see if there’s space for all your gear to be stowed away and pleasingly there was. A sturdy stainless rocket launcher with space for six rods is angled to keep the cockpit space clear of overhead obstructions, the navigator’s and driver’s seats are mounted on well thought through stainless brackets under which either tackle bags and boxes or a large esky can be easily stowed. Padded side pockets are long and uncluttered by compartments but could be wider and sturdier to accommodate all the bits and pieces anglers like to have at hand, the of lack horizontal rod racks providing for further out of the way rod storage also had me scratching my head, again these could be added. It was surprising that the wide gunwales only had two stainless rod holders mounted, but this can be optioned up to suit the angler’s requirements.
With an impressive beam of 2.34m the wide, full height transom is a welcome inclusion in this offshore assault vehicle. The fold away rear lounge is a great consideration although the fact that the lounge when folded down doesn’t lock into position and only just provides space to brace your toes under has me wondering what happens if you rely on this as a brace for support in the rough.
In the starboard transom corner an ample live-bait well is plumbed and ready for use at the switch of a button. On the port side a self draining bait well provides a good place to keep messy bait offerings tucked away while under way. All in all I liked the simple and practical layout of the cockpit – to me it says fish or don’t bother and that’s what fishing boats should really be all about. One thing I did find a little odd was the doubling up of the all round white light, not only is there one located just in front of the centre of the rocket launcher, there is also a rear starboard gunwale mounted receptacle for a removable pole mounted all round white light.
Built using a fibreglass stringer system and underfloor floatation these boats are built to last and are quiet underway. Constructed with a 21 degree dead rise, the resulting deep vee hull combined with large wide reverse chines means this hull is capable in the demanding offshore and rough open water conditions Australian anglers expect of their boats. The resulting ride is sturdy, pleasingly soft and handles direction changes confidently and with stability.
Hole shot is fast and bow-rise minimal assisted by two planning strakes. At rest the hull is stable enough to fish two anglers shoulder to shoulder on one side, thanks to the wide beam and wide reverse chines. On the downside reverse chines can cause some hefty hull slap when landing off a large wind chop or swell but this is not unique to this boat. Powered by a 115hp Suzuki 4-stroke I was impressed by the get up and go of the entire package, of all the 4-strokes I’ve tested this one delivered the best torque and I had a feeling it was set up by people who know boats.
Quality fittings are apparent from the bow to the stern. A stainless steel split bow rail sits astride a practical bow spit, a glass wind screen is firmly secured by a sturdy aluminium frame and clears can be fitted to provide full protection from prevailing conditions if so desired. Rear stainless cleats are recessed in, and stainless through hull fittings complete the overall look and feel.
Over the transom a telescopic boarding ladder is great for getting in and out of the water but could cause some tangles when line fishing in less than idyllic conditions. The small inbuilt boarding steps either side of the large engine well are a sensible design and allow the omission of boarding platforms (which create a lot of noise when at rest in any sizeable chop). Clip in carpet is an option some anglers like, personally I find it slips and slides a bit so would likely opt to take it out, keep it clean and only lay it down when family were expected on board. Underfloor between the seats a large kill tank is well proportioned for all but the largest fish you could hope to encounter. The esky fitted under the navigator’s seat is a great addition, although stronger tie downs would result in less shifting when underway.
Quickly to the dash, which is simple and practically laid out with all the gauges easy to read. Having said this flush mounted chartplotters and sounders really bug me these days as so much fishing is done away from the wheel and on the drift that you want to be able to see the information provided from all areas in the cockpit. Do yourself a favour and get a pedestal swivel mount and securely bolt this to the dash. Not only can you rotate it for all to see, you can also remove your valuable marine electronics from the boat if safety while in storage is an issue.
Lastly the cabin is large with good head height and is comfortably laid out with vinyl covered cushions and storage compartments underneath, an optional bunk infill would be a great addition to make crashing out when you’ve had enough an even more tempting option. The ample side pockets are large thanks to the deck mould design and will easily keep plenty of spare clothes and wet weather gear dry and out of the way, the downside of the deck design is that the only access to the bow is via the access hatch. The access hatch to the anchor well is perfect for medium sized men, although robust individuals may find the width a tad challenging. The anchor well itself is as you would expect from an Australian manufactured boat, capable of taking long lengths of rope and chain to enable anchoring in deep water.
Delivered on a Dunbier SR5.7-14B braked trailer, the package as tested with a 115hp 4-stroke Suzuki can be yours for a sweet $53,999. A great price for a great Australian fishing boat.
|Fuel capacity||160 litre alloy underfloor fuel tank|
OPTIONS ON TEST RIG
Bimini, front and side clears
Live bait well plumbing
Enclosed waters safety gear
Hummingbrid 788Cxi combo
GME 27Mhz Marine radio and antenna
Marine battery and box
Boat and Trailer registrationsReads: 3097