It has been a dream of mine to take a ride in a Formula 1 boat and recently I came as close as most of us mere mortals get. I rode in a Ranger Z19, one of the top-line bass competition boats, which is relatively small with a huge outboard on the back. Ripping across a lake at 56 knots (102kmh) little more than 20cm above the water was a real thrill.
From the moment the retractable tie-down straps were released on the trailer, I could see we were in top-shelf country. Nothing has been spared on this rig. From foot throttle to a raised engine jacking plate, this machine breathed class.
I would send you to sleep if I listed the entire whistle and bells this sleek boat sported but I’ll explain the features that caught my eye.
There were simple things like retractable straps to secure rods on deck and alongside the passenger and more complicated stuff like aerated and timer-equipped livewells, LED lights in lockers and livewells, main engine tilt switch on the foredeck (for lifting over obstacles in shallow water), 230L of fuel, 8L engine oil reservoir, and steering wheel stalk controls for trim and hydraulic jacking plate.
With 200hp outboard behind us, we were not short of oomph although she did have a tendency to bow-lift on acceleration. The motor has to be trimmed in for the start, then lifted as the boat steps on the plane. Trimmed out, she flew across a very calm lake at 56 knots at 5800rpm. At a more sedate 4000rpm we still did a very exciting 35 knots (64kmh).
Being a heavy boat with a variable deadrise, she handled chop beautifully and there was no lift or slam and I felt safe as houses when we hit wakes head-on at speed.
Up forward are rod lockers to handle rods to 8’ and there are storage hatches everywhere. All hatches are rubber-sealed and insulated, so keeping drink and food cold is no problem. Seals also prevent water intrusion and put an end to irritating rattles.
When looking for fish and casting, the bow-mounted 82lb thrust Minn Kota electric pulled us along at a fine rate, controlled up front by a foot pedal.
In the cockpit, on the passenger dash is the mandatory AM/FM CD player with waterproof speakers either side of the cockpit. The two wrap-round bucket seats even accommodated my bulky frame and were very comfortable. In between is a smaller, fold-down dickey seat so three can sit abreast.
Instrumentation on the dash is as per a racing car. Engine gauges show water pressure, temperature, battery voltage, motor trim, revs, speed and fuel.
The whole boat is carpeted and all fittings, such as hinges, catches and cleats, are drop-away or flush-mounted so there’s no protruding, line-catching bits or toe-stubbers when fishing barefoot.
I love the keyless, pin-operated ignition. In fact the whole boat can be locked, even the bait wells, so no one can steal your precious catch before weigh-in!
A huge sounder/GPS from Lowrance gave the driver minute detail of where he was and what fish were about. A smaller, under-dash Lowrance GPS complemented this set-up. Up forward was another Lowrance sounder to gaze at while casting from the forward seat and another seat graces the rear casting deck.
As a fishing platform, this boat is absolutely rock-solid on the water. With three hefty males moving around the boat fishing, taking pics and working livewells, the boat hardly flinched.
On the move, you feel you are in a racing car with the small cockpit and tight console. The boat had around 15° of deadrise and handled chop beautifully at speed. Although it’s a totally open boat, water is sheeted well away from occupants and I didn’t get a drop of spray clouding my sunglasses.
Turning to port against the torque of the motor was slightly harder than turning to starboard under power. However, the hydraulics made light work of overall steering and low-speed manoeuvrability. Throwing the wheel hard over at speed, the boat stuck to the water like glue with no sign of ventilation or side slip.
The only thing the Ranger Z19 didn’t like too much was hard reverse, when water crept over the transom and towards our backs. I did note the transom lip is designed so when the engine is throttled back, the wash is prevented from flooding inboard.
Being a tournament machine, everything is designed for operation of the driver. This boat has been very well thought out and extremely ergonomic. All the angler has to do is find the fish.
This platform will get the anglers there quickly, motor them around silently on the electric, keep all fishing equipment safe and accessible retain the prized catch alive for the weigh-in.
Ranger have listened well to what their champion US anglers have asked for and have incorporated features you and I would think were well above and beyond what was needed. There are clever touches like the front transducer placed in the bottom of the Minn Kota to give real height from the lowest part of the boat; like an integrated Plano tackle box system so all lures can be accessed quickly and easily, and an on-board battery charger to keep batteries topped up.
The Ranger Z19 comes with its own tandem trailer with electric brakes, alloy wheels, independent suspension, oil-filled wheel bearings, carpeted skids, spare tyre and alloy mags. As a complete rig it looks pretty spiffy and sure turns heads on the highway.
|Length on trailer||7.49m|
|Width on trailer||2.54m|
|Approx towing weight including trailer||2.2 tonnes|
Foam filled stringer system; stainless prop; high-performance steering wheel; hydraulic steering; power trim; reticulated and aerated livewells; LED courtesy lights; Lowrance sounder (bow and console); auto and manual bilge pump; fire extinguisher and horn; pop-up cleats; tinted windshields; upright level flotation; rod lockers; integrated Plano tackle boxes; retractable rod buckles.
Boat supplied by Bendigo Marine World, Midland Highway, Epsom 3551, telephone 03 5448 3988.Reads: 1956