The magnificent 7.81m Predator walkaround from Tailored Marine Accessories, of the Gold Coast, packs a lot of punch and is a versatile performer.
As a family boat for extended cruising it ticks all boxes; as an offshore fishing boat with go-fast attitude it again wins a prize, and as a game boat it would be simply brilliant with the addition of a boarding gate, which Tailored Marine can easily provide in these custom-built wonders.
The test boat is the personal/company boat and is kitted out to suit their needs, but TMA’s John Zac was quick to point out that customisation is the name of their game.
Everything about the Predator seems to be, well, roomy.
The non-skid walkaround to the bow is very wide and there are ample handholds along the fibreglass hardtop supports. Up forward there’s a large well-padded seat above a forward storage area at the front of the cuddy and a high bow rail for extra security. Anchor chores have been delegated to an electric winch.
The cuddy is well lit by side windows and a skylight, while the 2m bunks have storage below and there’s an electric toilet under the starboard bunk. With the removable table lowered and the infill added, there’s a roomy bed for a couple and a youngster or two.
A sink, with a 120L freshwater tank, is standard.
A cabin door is available although was not fitted to the test boat. The cuddy companionway has quite a high lip to prevent water entry from the cockpit.
The helm area is sheltered by the hardtop, a five-piece safety glass windscreen and zip-open clears. The marine radio was mounted in a box under the hardtop.
The seats for skipper and first mate are on storage boxes and have reversible bolster-style backrests – great for the crew to keep an eye on the lures or the skipper to sit back and relax at the end of the day.
The Predator’s dash area is compact, user-friendly and tidy, with a Lowrance 1HDS 8 sounder/plotter and a big Mercury SmartCraft gauge on the top tier. Below it are two banks of switches, compass, ignition key and winch controls, then engine controls to port of the sports-style wheel and Minn Kota trim tab switches and the Simrad autopilot.
Seated or standing, all gauges and controls are in easy reach and clear view. Visibility from the skipper’s seat is a full 360°.
The skipper seat box has a side door to storage and a locker for Plano 3700-size tackle boxes at the rear; an icebox here is another option.
The cockpit is 1.70m long and 1.8m wide and has room for four, maybe five, anglers to fish in comfort and safety. The non-skid floor drains into a sump serviced by two bilge pumps and there’s a large underfloor kill tank.
There are large, deep side pockets, with a raw water deck wash in the starboard one, and three rod holders along each gunwale. At the transom is a 45L live bait tank, more storage compartments and water-resistant speakers to complement those up by the helm.
The freshwater shower installed aft would be just the ticket after a big day on the water. There’s an optional rail for the aft boarding ladder.
The TMA Predator’s transom has been designed to accept single or twin engines to 300hp. The 275hp Mercury Verado was brilliant. The six-cylinder 2.6L supercharged engine snarled as it planed the two-tonne hull in almost its own length yet could be a real kitten when gentle power was required. The easy performance made this big boat a treat to drive.
The Predator’s 25° deep-vee hull planed at 11 knots (20.3kmh) at 3000rpm, hit 21.3 knots (39.4kmh) at 4000rpm and at 5000rpm was loping along at 30.8 knots (57.1kmh). At 6000rpm the GPS showed a brisk 36.7 knots (68kmh) and at 6300rpm 39.4 knots (73kmh).
The silky smooth Mercury Smart Craft Digital Throttle and Shift System eliminated any jarring when moving into or out of gear and the Verado’s power steering made handling a fingertip exercise.
For a large, solid boat, the Predator was an absolute pleasure to drive, whether slipping along at high speed in sheltered waters or punting through swells outside. The hull proved very responsive to trim input, handled turns very surely and was very well balanced over all.
Ride was as good as performance. The 25° hull with tracked true in the swells and the head sea at speed in the Seaway entrance produced only minimal bumps. There’s little doubt Predator owners will enjoy fishing offshore.
One thing that really impressed me was the great stability, thanks to the way that Tailored Marine have kept top hamper to a minimum. All weight has been kept down as low as possible, which is important in an offshore craft.
I deliberately stopped at the Seaway entrance in some nasty slop to test stability: the Predator came through with flying colours, thanks to the hull’s central planing plank and wide reversed chines.
Dedicated anglers are going to find the Predator ideal for serious work, especially out in the blue water. The easy ride, stability at rest, ample freeboard and angler-friendly features are superb.
Finish is top-shelf; no corners have been cut and everything points to it being a top-class rig with plenty of comfort.
While the 275hp Verado was brilliant, this well-balanced hull would still work fine with less power.
With over five decades of boat building between them, John Zac and his team offer a five-year structural hull warranty and a high degree of customisation to provide extra features for fishing or family use.
|Length on trailer||8.50m|
|Height on trailer||3.20m|
|Towing||Large 4WD or truck.|
Standard fittings: Underfloor fuel tank 490L with deck fill & breathers; 120L freshwater tank; automatic bilge pump x 3; boarding ladder; bow rail, bowsprit, roller and bollard; cabin door; electronics panel at control station; double helm seat reversible, storage under; tackle locker x 2; electronic controls inc gauges & engine management system; water resistant switch panel; sports steering wheel; hydraulic steering; navigation lights, courtesy lights and interior lights; power winch with dash switch, anchor & chain kit; trim tabs; fibreglass hardtop with 6 rod holders & grab rails; full length bunks with infill, electric toilet w holding tank; pressure freshwater system with sink; kill tank/icebox underfloor, self draining; live bait tank aerator & pump system; raw water deck wash; stainless steel deck cleats x 6; transom shower freshwater; twin batteries with safety & isolation switches, five-year structural warranty.
Price as tested on a Dunbier tandem axle trailer, sounder/plotter, autopilot and all the bells and whistles: $156,000. Base boat with 150hp Verado around $120,000. Test boat supplied by Tailored Marine Accessories, 18 Kingston Dr, Helensvale, Qld 4212, phone 07 5502 7255, 0408 422 242, email --e-mail address hidden-- or visit www.tailoredmarine.com.au