The first time I saw a Formula 15 was when gun Melbourne angler Shaun Clancy owned one. He used to race around Port Phillip Bay in all sorts of terrible weather that no fifteen footer should be out in. What’s more, the Formula 15 ate it up, enabling him to get into some great fishing that was out of reach for many boats of similar size.
Just recently I borrowed an awesome looking 15’ Formula to test for VFM. Behind my 4WD, it towed like a dream. It certainly didn’t feel like there was a small but quite heavy boat on the back. I think its great towing ability was also due to the fact it was sitting on an Easy Tow trailer, which had the boat resting on full keel rollers and carpeted skids, giving it plenty of support in the right places.
Once in the water there was no denying it was a Formula, with the distinctive lines and shape. These boats are racehorses, just waiting to go fast.
The 20-degree deadrise and heavy, solid build of the boat is a big part in the success of the Formula hull, combined with full closed cell underfloor buoyancy. All Formula boats are built for hard work.
With no carpet inside the boat, you quickly realise this 15 footer is designed for serious fishing. Just like their bigger models, many of which are used by professional fishermen, the floor has no sharp corners or edges where water or bait can get stuck. Everywhere can be hosed out.
Behind the centre console in the floor is a waterproof hatch that is ideal as a fish box. The bilge and bilge pump are recessed into the floor at the back in a small but practical bilge area that is easily accessible.
Moving forward you find that due to the hull’s compact size, the centre console layout is a perfect option for the boat, keeping the weight central when fishing on your own, but also maximising space for fishing.
The size and design of the centre console is a good one. Made from moulded fibreglass it houses the engine gauges and sounder on top of the dash, where they are protected by the solid windscreen. This in turn is supported by a sturdy stainless frame with grab rails.
The console also contains a marine radio and switch panel for all the required gauges, such as navigation lights and bilge pump. Down near your feet, the console also holds the EPIRB and fire extinguisher, right were they should be – in easy reach when you need them.
There is also the mandatory storage pocket for those bits and pieces such as keys and phone.
Seating options for the Formula 15 are either pedestal seats or a seat box. At the time of testing, it wasn’t fully finished, but it looked great with a padded seat top that will be double hinged, opening to a moulded section in the top that can hold an assortment of bait and food. There is still heaps of room below it for anything from ice and fish to a dry storage.
At the front of the console is a padded seat that also doubles as a dry storage box, and also houses the crank battery. This was another good idea as it kept the battery out of the weather.
The side pockets were fairly basic but useful for holding paddles or other bits and pieces, such as gaffs, and can be easily hosed out.
The anchor well had an ample drainage system, and below it was yet another small dry storage hatch. It is amazing how the guys at Formula have made the best use of any spare space in the boat to create storage wherever possible.
The back end set up sees the 90hp Honda sitting in a recessed engine well, offering fishers easy access around the motor. Access to the motor is also easy due to the hinged, flip down section in front of the motor.
Sitting either side of the engine are two more storage bins that would be ideal for bait, or you could easily turn one into a live well.
The placement of two rear bollards was also good to see, and they are in ideal spots for everything from water skis to berley pot or flying gaff ropes.
During the test, the new 90hp Honda vtec engine on the back was quiet as ever. It was a lot punchier than older models too, pushing the rig along nicely into a very stiff northerly wind.
With the boat on the plane at 3300rpm and doing 20mph, the ride was comfortable, although it did tend to slice into some of the bigger waves, ultimately bringing a bit of spray over the front. Then again, this does tend to happen when you are heading straight into 25knots of northerly wind.
While the Formula comfortably ate its way through the slop, it really did feel like it was an animal being held back. There was only one thing to do – open it up and see how it handled.
With many boats you find that the faster you go in sloppy conditions the more uncomfortable and unsafe they feel. The Formula was the opposite. As you opened the throttle you could feel the boats performance change to what it should be. At 4000rpm it was doing over 40kph and loving it. The ride continued to improve as the speed increased.
With a beam of 2.06m the hull is quite narrow, which helps it slice through and over the waves. Best of all it didn’t tend to want to get airborne every couple of seconds as many boats do, even when faced with a couple of steep waves jumping up in front of us. You know the ones where you cringe and brace yourself for the crunch – it just didn’t happen.
The Honda had plenty of grunt to it. I didn’t even open it up full throttle in the rough, mainly due to the fact the moulded seat box hadn’t been properly fitted yet, so it made it hard to brace yourself with one hand on the throttle and the other on the steering wheel.
Throwing the Formula 15 into some sharp turns was no problem, although you needed to be right on the engine trim to get the best out of it.
Opened up the boat was a proverbial rocket, reaching 75kph at 6500rpm. It took a bit to get used to but I think this also had a bit to do with no seat, as mentioned earlier, and not being able to brace yourself.
Overall, this is a cracker of a small package that has heaps of fishing potential for a wide variety of locations and species.
Warranty: 10 year (structural hull)
Length Overall: 4.6m
Deadrise: 20 degree
Dry hull weight: 450kg
Fuel: 95L underfloor
Priced from: $29,990
Price as tested: $43,052
Further information: www.formulaboats.com.au