‘Innovation’ is the buzz word at Polycraft Boats of Bundaberg, Queensland. There are five hulls in their current range – from the 3m Tuff Tender through to the 599 Frontier – and Polycraft has built variations on these to create eight different models.
The test boat in this review is the 530 Warrior, which can be ordered as a centre console or bow rider (Polycraft’s Frontrunner).
Polycrafts are quite unique. Construction is from 12mm thick polyethylene, which is a flexible yet very strong material that won’t dent or mark easily, and each hull is covered by a four-year warranty. These virtually indestructible hulls have dual skins, one inside the other. Because plenty of air is trapped between these sections, each boat has positive flotation to survey standard (the Warrior’s hull is rated for six people).
Polyethylene is also quiet on the water, as I discovered when we motored out into the Broadwater with a pair of 530 Warriors in Frontrunner and Centre Console layouts to play with. Both craft were set up with a full compliment of fittings and features; anything that can be attached to alloy or fibreglass can also be attached to polyethylene.
The 530 Centre Console, for instance, was equipped with bow roller, stainless steel bollard and bowrails, winch point, carpeted floors and hatches, front and rear storage bins, 130-litre underfloor fuel tank with sender, rear fold-out lounge, bait well, cutting board, boarding rails, transom plate, rod holders and a good-sized centre console with a shelf. Darn! No kitchen sink!
The Frontrunner doesn’t miss out either. Along with the fittings that feature in the Centre Console there’s a pair of pedestal-mounted swivelling upholstered seats at the dual dash areas, bowrider style seating for a couple of fun-seekers forward of the three-piece windscreen, and cockpit transom seating. It also has boarding rails, rod holders and a bait station aft which includes a good sized livewell built into the wide transom. All up, it’s a simple but very useful layout.
But one of the best things about the Warrior, in either configuration, is that it’s designed to be very practical. Along with plenty of angler-friendly features, both models have very deep cockpits (around the 600 mark) for added safety, and because the transom is also at full gunwale height I’d have no problem taking these boats offshore.
In the Frontrunner configuration, you can store the cushioning elsewhere to allow a pair of anglers to stand on the strong seating base to fish. It’s a simple matter to remove the in-fill base to provide leg room for front passengers. There’s storage room up here, naturally.
In typical bowrider style, the Frontrunner has paired modules onto which the windscreen is fixed, and the screen centre lifts to port to allow forward access. The raked modules also feature forward cockpit storage areas ahead of the feet. Padding set up on the front of each module forms a back rest for bowrider passengers. A neat touch was the way that special recesses in the walkway area of the modules were set up for a fire extinguisher and EPIRB.
Twin dash layouts see a grab handle and locking glovebox for the passenger, with the skipper having an array of switches to starboard with instruments for the 115hp Suzuki set up just above the wheel. Forward controls were well placed on the side of the Warrior. A bonus is the amount of room available for navigational aids; it’s there in spades.
Aft of the pedestal seats mounted on big storage boxes the Frontrunner’s floor is fully carpeted to the transom where a wide bench seat provides room for three passengers to enjoy the ride. If you need more cockpit room you can opt to fold down the seat.
The Centre Console Warrior is virtually all fishing room. Like the Frontrunner, the floor is carpeted, including the raised bow work area where there are storage areas under the floor of the raised casting deck. The centre console is shelved, comes with plenty of very strong grab handles and is topped with a neat windscreen. Instruments on the Centre Console were set up on a flat area behind the windscreen, with wheel and forward controls close by. Again, there was ample room for navigational aids.
The generous cockpit was set up with a rear fold-down lounge and although not fitted to the test rig Polycraft can provide a large ice box with padded lid and bolster style fore and aft facing back rest. Steve from Polycraft advised me that a lot of Centre Console craft are set up with these ice boxes. Makes sense.
Transoms on both craft were identical in that both were wide enough to accommodate a good sized livewell (with a second well a great option) and were set up with useful cutting boards and cleats. Aft gunwale grabrails were handy. A bait station was a feature of the Centre Console while both Warriors were set up with small sumps right astern, just behind the transom, into which any water aboard could collect and be promptly removed via the craft’s bilge pump.
The Frontrunner was set up with a 115hp Suzuki four-stroke and the Centre Console with a 115 Johnson two-stroke. Both engines made easy work of powering the 700kg hulls and it would be great to relate data in regard to both engines but unfortunately my GPS died in action. Prior to the battery failure, though, I was in the Frontrunner with its 115 Suzuki which performed as follows: planing was at 15.2km/h at 3300 rpm. 30.4km/h at 4000rpm, 45.6km/h at 5000 rpm and 53.5kph at 6000rpm. It’s good performance considering that we had two aboard plus a full tank of fuel.
Power-wise, I didn’t notice a great deal of difference in the performance of the engines, although the Johnson two-stroke was a little quicker off the mark, initially. The Suzuki four-stroke was quieter at idle, throughout mid-range revs, and perhaps a tad quieter at full song as well. That’s not to say that the Johnson was noisy; it wasn’t by any standard, particularly as it was tucked well down below the wide and very high transom.
I found the 530 Warrior to be an easy riding, easy handling craft with no vices whatsoever. Both rigs tracked easily whether running with chop, across it, or heading into it.
We carried out the testing in the Broadwater and out through the Seaway, and both craft performed admirably in the varied environment. With a bit of up trim applied, the fine section bow and fair degree of flare kept spray down. The Warrior’s V form hull features prominent reversed chines built into the rear half, which really dig in during turns to prevent side slip and grip the water to provide terrific stability at rest. Ultra quietness is also one of the outstanding qualities of polyethylene which seems to be more silent than either glass or alloy. There’s just no hull slap at sub-planning speeds.
In all, the Polycraft 530 Warrior will handle a wide variety of fishing requirements, from the estuaries to offshore. Plenty of useful features will make fishing a real pleasure, and the excellent stability and good sea-keeping ability provide both confidence and enjoyment while on the water.
The Centre Console configuration, targeted at serious fishermen, is priced at around $27,500 as tested. If you’re after a family/fishing boat, you can take home the Frontrunner for around $32,500.
For more information on the Warriors, or to find your nearest dealer, contact Polycraft on 1800 336 603 or visit www.polycraft.com.au.
Make/model - Polycraft 530 Warrior
Configurations - Frontrunner (bowrider), Centre Console
Length - 5.30m
Beam - 2.40m
Power - 90-115hp
Power as tested - 115hp
Fuel - 130L
Deadrise - 18 degrees
Weight on trailer (Centre Console) - approx. 1300kg
Weight on trailer (Frontrunner) - approx. 1500kg
Price as tested (Centre Console) - $27,500 BMT
Price as tested (Frontrunner) - $32,500 BMT
1. A fine bow and fair degree of flare keep spray away from the Warrior’s occupants. A prominent reversed chine starts around halfway along the hull and provides both stability and enhanced handling.
2. A livewell, bait station and cutting board were features of the Centre Console’s transom.
3.Polycraft has provided big grabrails on the Warrior’s centre console.
4. With the centre in-fill lifted up there is plenty of leg room in the bow section of the Frontrunner. With cushions removed and the in-fill in place the bow section makes a handy casting platform.
5. There’s room for up to four people on the generous rear seat of the Frontrunner. You can opt to fold down the seat if you want more room in the aft cockpit area.
6. A moulded recess on the walkway sides of the Frontrunner’s dash module will hold a fire extinguisher or EPIRB.