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Boat test: Sea Jay 520 Velocity Sports
  |  First Published: September 2014



Factory fresh from Sea Jay’s Bundaberg factory, the new 520 Velocity Sports, on a dual axle trailer, slipped into the Burnett River for a morning of water testing last month. This is a side console with attitude, not the least being the classy wrap enveloping the hull’s sides.

Very beamy at 2.4m and with an overall length of 5.3m, the Velocity Sports will fulfil a multitude of roles thanks to a careful balance of features that will appeal to a wide cross section of boaters. A 150L fuel tank is standard, and that generous fuel capacity will be a big selling point for northern anglers that see a couple of hours’ travel to a good fishing area as par for the course. Powered by a 115 Yamaha four-stroke (recommended power) the craft was no slouch either, with top speeds around the 65kph mark recorded on the Burnett River.

Layout

A close look at the layout of the 520 Velocity Sports reveals that Sea Jay have covered quite a few bases with this newcomer to their line-up. While the company is renowned for their well set up and well appointed fishing boats, I reckon it won’t just be keen anglers who will be drawn to this craft – family-oriented anglers will like it as well. It’s beamy, strong, solid as a rock, and has a lot of freeboard thanks to a side depth of 1.29m.

Five seating positions are standard, as is useful storage within the front deck areas and within the side console with its windscreen and surrounding grab rail. Up front there’s a good sized anchor well (and a bow rail there of course). A pair of hatches within the front casting deck allow easy access to the storage area below, which is large enough to hold an ice box, as well as offering a handy area for tackle trays and the like.

Stepping down from the 400mm high cast deck there’s ample room to easily select a rigged rod from the six upright rod holders in front of the console. Roominess is certainly one of the big pluses with this craft; nothing is cramped or cluttered. Features are set up for maximum comfort and ease of use throughout.

CONSOLE

I noticed that the side console with its grab handles on the side and top was just the right size – not overly large, nor too small to be useful. On the flat upper section there was ample room for large sounder screens or other nav aids. A Humminbird state-of-the-art Onix 8S1 unit graced the console of the test rig with a trio of Yamaha multi-function gauges immediately below. The main switches were set neatly to starboard of the wheel linked to hydraulic steering.

With a central shelf for odds and ends and ample leg room below it, the console was well thought out. It balanced both the appearance and handling of the craft in fine style.

Seating aft of the console consisted of paired, folding pedestal-style seats for skipper and first mate. I found the skipper’s pedestal seat to be strong, handy in that it swivelled, and in the correct position to helm the craft. Visibility was, of course, totally unlimited, as expected in an open boat of this style.

With such a wide area of cockpit space to use, the ability to move seats is an important feature of the craft as it creates a great deal of flexibility and ease of weight distribution. Also of importance were the very high cockpit sides, three rod holders per side, a deep side pocket to port and full carpet on all floor areas.

Transom features consisted of a plumbed live well, a transom door and boarding ladder to port, boarding platforms and rails each side of the smooth Yamaha four-stroke, plus cleats.

RIDE AND HANDLING

I was interested in how the wide side console would perform. Sea Jay recommend the 115 Yamaha four-stroke as power for the craft and I think that’s about right. This is, after all, a quite solid plate hull with its 4mm bottom and 3mm sides, 13 under-floor cross ribs all contributing to the craft’s 575kg weight. The smooth running 1.8L four cylinder Yamaha eased the craft onto the plane at 22.3km/h at 2800rpm, with 3000rpm giving the rig a speed of 28.7km/h. Other speed readings were 43.2km/h at 4000rpm, 55.8km/h at 5000rpm and 65.6.km/h at 6200km/h.

With its 18° deadrise and well-formed under-hull pressings, the Velocity impressed me with the way it handled the swells rolling up the Burnett River at Burnett Heads. Even when travelling at full throttle I felt little impact from the swells we encountered, and it was pleasing to note that the hull refused to bang or cause any noise other than a hiss of displaced water.

Handling was also a strong point with the hull turning sharply with minimal lean. Family anglers wanting to have some tow sports fun would warm to this aspect of the Velocity’s handling. Good stability at rest would make the craft suitable for all manner of fishing, whether in the estuary or heading offshore. It was easy to move about without causing the craft to lean. Even when things became a bit boisterous from passing trawlers the Sea Jay remained very steady. Purposely pushing hard into the large wash from some of the trawlers caused no issues while the ride remained quite dry.

As an open craft, of course, you might expect some spray if travelling with wind and waves on the quarter. However, the Velocity’s quite high sides should assist in keeping water out of the way.

Fishability

Virtually every aspect of the Sea Jay 520 Velocity Sport’s design and the numerous angler-friendly features make it an ideal fishing craft for up to four anglers. A raised platform up front, ample room aft, flexibility in seating layout, high sides for maximum sea keeping and an enjoyable, predictable ride all combine in best Sea Jay tradition to ensure owners will enjoy their time on the water.

The finish was of a high standard. Welds were full all round, smoothed but still quite visible while the brilliant orange wrap was undoubtedly the icing on the cake.

The price (from Stones Corner Marine in Brisbane) with Redco Sportsman dual axle trailer and fitted with the Yamaha 115 would be in the low forties without the sounder. For more information visit www.seajayboats.com.au.

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