This corner of the market is hotly contested with established players all pushing their own versions of a perfect sports fishing craft. These are the 'pointy punts' of old: smart bits of fishing kit that place big emphasis upon stability at rest and a stealthy approach to the fish. That said, the Sea Jay 465 Viper with it's 80 Yamaha four stroke might well give the opposition a shake up thanks to a host of features, kind handling mated to excellent performance and a competitive price.
In this style of boat there are a few things that buyers are looking for. Some search for speed and lose the seating capacity of other slower boats, but above all a good craft should have a free-casting platform and plenty of storage. The 3 seat 465 Viper fills the bill nicely for the dedicated competition angler or hobby fisher.
Standing up front on the Viper's rock steady carpeted casting deck a number of finger tabs denote that lockers are below. Up in the bow is the anchor storage. Straight behind is another locker; this one containing the 115 amp deep cycle battery for the craft's Minn Kota Riptide 55 lb thrust electric. There's also a rubber-lined pad for a tote tank of fuel to slip in there – a very handy addition.
Another locker is further aft, with a 75L live fish well with plumbing to keep your fish alive. Other areas below the floor are taken up with flotation material with the resulting noise reduction quite noticeable.
A step, concealing another locker large enough for a PFD or two, sits halfway between the 35cm high forward deck and the main cockpit’s bench seating.
Beside the step are five upright rod holders designed to carry valuable rods set up at the ready for instant use. I liked the neat stainless plugs for the holders – just another nice touch in this boat.
The cockpit sports a side console setup with a tinted windscreen. Uppermost is a Humminbird 787c sounder/GPS unit, with paired Yamaha multi-function gauges to starboard within the neat moulded dash binnacle. The wheel linked to mechanical steering is directly ahead of the skipper with a set of waterproof switches for various functions to starboard. Engine controls are side mounted.
The Viper’s seating arrangement is simple and functional. It’s a 40/60 arrangement that sees the driver on a right sized padded bench seat and two passengers to port on a larger bench. But there is more to these seats than meets the eye.
When travelling, the skipper and passengers enjoy a comfortable ride – these are large seats with ample support and padding making them a cut above many other small craft. There's also storage below.
It gets even better. Arriving at your fishing destination, you can simply flip the back rests forward onto the rigid hand rails and in an instant the carpeted rear sections of the benches will join with the carpet covered lockers astern to make up a sizeable aft casting platform.
There are a further two storage lockers against the transom, to starboard there is a well for the engine battery, central is a plumbed recirculating live bait well and to port a general storage locker. Both the battery and port lockers are set up with a shelf near the lid for gear that must be kept dry. Its all a tidy arrangement.
The transom area features Sea Jay's 'Ultimate Edge' technology. The 80hp Yamaha four stroke motor is bolted on to the rear of what is, in essence, a swim platform with the transom proper being inboard of the engine well. The overall effect is to create extra buoyancy to accommodate the somewhat heavier four stroke engines and it certainly worked fine – there was no tendency for the craft to drag it's backside at any stage of proceedings.
It was an interesting rig to drive. The seating position was fine with ample legroom. I found that upon throttle application the bow would lift – I've experienced the same situation in others of this style of craft I've driven, but when the power was applied further the bow came straight down again within a couple of boat lengths. The smooth Yamaha 80 four stroke took care of this with ease and the Viper planed at 16kph at 2,800rpm. 3,000rpm saw 25kph on the Humminbird 787, 4,000rpm gave up 36.2kph and 5,000 gave 57.6kmh. For those that like top speed 5,600rpm gave us (two up) 60.3kph. No tears were streaming from the eyes but an enjoyable experience just the same given the proximity to the water!
The handling was excellent. As I pushed the rig into tight turns the 8 degree deadrise hull did a good job of biting into corners without side slip. Ride was as to be expected: without the fine entry of conventional craft, punt style boats will do it harder when crossing chop or pushing into waves, but I found the boat handled the large wash from passing boats well. There was a bump, certainly, but thanks to a degree of Vee in the forward under hull lines it was not excessive. Heading on into chop we stayed quite dry too, no doubt the spray chine on the hull played a big part in this.
One thing that did make me take notice was the lack of noise from the hull when under way due to the sound proofing effect of the flotation material. Likewise, it was very stable.
The Sea jay 465 Viper is a well finished and well set out rig well suited to smooth water fishing or a run out into the bay or estuary, given a good day. She's rated for four. The layout and terrific stability will suit a sports orientated or competition angler admirably and with two major work areas there's plenty of room.
Price for the rig as tested was $35,880. A base craft with 2 stroke Yamaha 70 would come home for around $28,300.
The reviewed craft was supplied by Stones Corner Marine, ph (07) 3397 9766.
|Engine fitted:||80hp Yamaha four stroke|
|Hull Bottom:||3 mm|
|Hull Sides:||2 mm|