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Unsinkable family fun
  |  First Published: June 2012



Buying a boat is no easy decision. There’s determining what type of boat is required for your given pursuits, then the practical affordability and finance requirements, storage and of course you have to keep rest of the family happy.

There are a thousand boat options but which one to choose? We say a boat that can accommodate many tasks is a good place to start and the Boston Whaler 170 Super Sport is certainly one of those.

Its sleek good looks are hard to go past and it’s one of the best-made and safest boats on the market in the world.

US-built Boston Whalers have a reputation of being unsinkable, even maintaining level floatation when swamped and overloaded. This is not an invitation to try this out, because your insurance company may not like it, but the fact that it has been tested so will give family boaters peace of mind.

The 170 Super Sport was a new release in 2011 and is one of four in the Super Sport range, with a 110, 130 and 150 also on offer.

While primarily designed as a sports boat, some strategically-placed rod holders and a sounder as options could easily turn this boat into a versatile package. You could call this a family crossover, with Dad able to comfortably fish and the kids and Mum splash about or have fun with tow sports.

This is a looker, with a wrapped hull coming in blue, red black, orange or just about any colour you can imagine, coupled with a turned-down bow reminiscent of a sports car.

At 5.18m (17’) long and with a beam of 2.08m, this open boat provides space for every situation. The bow features a large platform where lure casting is certainly an option, or you can simply laze the day away on the removable cushion.

More space is available at the helm. In standard issue this is a padded bench but the model we tested had comfortable bucket sports seats for the driver and passenger.

The sides of the boat are a little low for offshore work with the gunwale and really too low to lean against, but with a draft of only 23cm, inshore, flats and estuary fishing will be comfortable.

There is an option for a pole platform with two rod holders, which certainly looks the part and would be a great selection for anyone aiming to fish big, shallow estuaries or for areas like Lake Macquarie with its many sandbars. This pole platform is not compatible with the optional sports tower for the water sports fans.

PERFORMANCE

With a 90hp Mercury EFI four-stroke engine on the back, performance is exhilarating and while the boat could cope with a 40hp minimum, I really wanted to just drive off into the horizon and leave the guys at Lifestyle Marine in my wake once I stepped behind the wheel with the 90.

Unlike some side console boats, the Super Sports version does not upset the balance and cause it to list to one side while under way.

The hull has a 14° transom deadrise and the 90 maintained planing speeds at around 3000rpm but get on the throttle and it’s hard to get off!

Straight-line speed is there in spades but trim the motor in and she holds like a racing car as the hull beds into a corner and pushes through the turn like boat that weighs a whole lot more than 521kg without the engine. It feels safe, purposeful and controlled.

Trim out the motor a little and the thrill-seeker will appreciate the soft slide the hull can deliver. As you push harder on the throttle mid-turn, the slide simply becomes more pronounced and fun.

This hull handles more like a personal water craft than a boat and the engine provides the performance to go with it.

While our test day was super-calm, based on that 14° transom deadrise, heading into heavy chop or swell could be undesirable. But you just know that the hull would be more than capable in most weather.

In the interest of good reporting, we returned later to test this theory and Lake Macquarie came to the party with a nasty, short, sharp chop and the 170 Super Sport rode unbelievably smoothly over the 0.5-1m waves as if it were a much heavier boat.

FITTINGS, FINISH

The finish throughout the 170 Super Sport is as classy as you can get on a boat this size. Stainless rails, grab handles, sporty steering wheel and an ergonomically designed interior all epitomise the Boston Whaler build and feel.

The little things count too and there is space next to the helm that accommodates a small waterproof container within easy reach of the driver.

There is space for a small sounder to the right of the wheel, while rod holders will have to be rail-mounted because of the foam-injected hull.

The model we tested was fitted with a comfort pack which included the sports seats, a swim ladder, cushion-top icebox forward of the passenger seat, bow rail, low-profile tower, bimini and wakeboard rack.

I would opt for this pack because it does add to the sporty nature of the boat and provide some accessories that are sure to be used over Summer.

The Boston 170 Super Sport is a versatile craft not specifically designed for fishing, but is capable of being a capable platform for angling and much more.

Facts

SPECIFICATIONS

Length 5.18m
Beam 2.08m
Draft 0.23m
Transom deadrise 14°
Capacity7 adults
Min power40hp
Max power90hp
Weight (hull only)521kg

Test boat Supplied by Lifestyle Marine, phone 02 4959 1444 or visit www.lifestylemarine.com.au

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