WITH A BOOST in tournament angling, fishing platforms are getting increasingly refined as anglers look to tweak any small advantage to glean a win.
Some astute manufacturers have noticed this trend and have designed out-and-out tournament boats so competitors can get there quickly, fish comfortably and cast with a large degree of stability. Robustness is also a requisite as boats bump up against oyster leases, wharves, jetties, pylons and rocks in the quest for that winning fish. Gone are the days when a flat-bottomed punt or a pram dinghy would do. These craft do not tolerate rough water and have ‘protrusions’ everywhere to catch line, nets and mangle delicate rods.
Sports angler Raffi Demirjian, a boat builder at Lemon Tree Passage, near Port Stephens, is producing a range of sports craft that cater for this assertive market. I first met Raffi and his lovely wife Liana at a boat show a few years back when Elegant Boats were being shown for the first time. The first thing I noticed was Raffi’s boats are built tough and have all the whistles and bells that a tournament angler requires.
These boats grew from a passion for fishing. It was the competitive nature of the tournament circuit that led Raffi to look for a more effective platform to hunt for bass and bream. Speed and stability were high priorities. Raffi was inspired by the speed, reliability and stability of the American bass boats and with the help of a naval architect/engineer, the first of the 4.5m series emerged. Raffi soon realised there were plenty of others who shared his passion for a thoroughbred tournament boat and so Elegant Boats became a marketable reality.
I met Raffi down at Wharf Road boat ramp at West Ryde to take out a new 4.5m fully-rigged boat and came away desperately wanting one.
Elegant boats are tough. When I say tough, how about 3mm, 5052 marine grade aluminium plate sides, top and bottom, all seam welded? Add full-length stringers and a bulkhead every 400mm, side impact supports and a foam-filled floor for added buoyancy. The deck is marine ply encased in fibreglass for rigidity and long life. Extra-thick 8mm plate on the transom means you can hang up to 75 horses off the back to get you there in quick time.
A self-draining deck is an option I would have liked on the test rig, but that was all I could find lacking on this ready-to-fish machine. Oh, and maybe the colour – it was British racing green. For a boat this hot, I would have it bright red or yellow, something that would stand out in a crowd, but maybe that’s just me going through male menopause.
The side console allowed plenty of room for at least two anglers to wave rods around without any clashing of Kevlar. The bow casting platform measured a huge 1400mm x 1830mm and the rear platform was not far behind at 950mm x 1830mm. Coaming height was a comfortable 530mm but the full side rails made it a lot higher. A coaming width of 160mm gives plenty of room to house flush rod holders.
I loved the full-length rod locker and the huge reticulating live bait well monitored by a timed pump. In a cradle up front was the 55lb thrust Minn Kota Riptide electric with auto pilot. This motor is powered by two 100amp/ hour deep-cycle batteries stored under the forward deck, ensuring there is no voltage drop on the short cable run. A single battery (for starting and powering on-board electronics) enclosed in a hatch close to the transom is protected by an isolating switch and fuel is kept clean with a water-separating filter. A 500gph automatic bilge pump with manual override completes the engineering down the back.
On the console is a six-gang switch panel, a Matrix sounder, 27MHz radio and the standard Yamaha engine-management gauges. All wiring is marine-grade and sealed against corrosion. The small windscreen can be folded down to give the boat a lower profile for storage or for minimal drag when towing. The whole boat, including inside the storage hatches, is fully covered in marine-grade carpet, a boon in hot (and cold!) weather. The two fold-down pedestal seats have the choice of four positions in the floor. A large anchor well that will hold plenty of rope drains to the bilge.
A 60hp four-stroke Yamaha pushed us along at 34mph at 5700rpm with the throttle hard down. The 12” pitch prop seemed well-suited to the boat and motor and let the needle on the rev counter climb just into the red. A 65-litre in-floor tank meant fill-up worries were left back at the bowser.
Heading down river towards the Harbour Bridge, the boat took the persistent chop in its stride. This craft is no lightweight. It is supplied with a braked trailer and all-up weight with a full load is near 800kg.
The Harbour was busy with the usual turbulence but I could still swing the boat around on a sixpence due to the incredibly light hydraulic steering. Up front, the large, turned-down chines directed water well away from us while giving a lovely feel of stability at rest. With 15° of stem-to-stern deadrise, the boat handled the chaotic water in our busiest harbour well with no slam or porpoising.
On acceleration with the motor tucked in, the boat stayed level with little inclination to rear, even with both of us occupying seats at the rear. Standing up front, there is a mile of room to plant the feet wide apart and cast away to the heart’s delight. Heel was minimal and two blokes could lean over the side with no gunwale-dipping.
The boat comes complete with a Marlin Big Fish fully galvanised and braked trailer which took the boat in like a baby to its mothers arms back at the ramp. Due to the weight, although a small four-cylinder car would cope, I would be happier pulling this rig with at least a six, especially at places where there is a steep incline on the ramp.
This is a boat that you could leave to your grandkids in your will – it feels indestructible and would still keep its good looks after a few years of hard fishing. Not the cheapest rig in the yard by any stretch of the imagination, but you get a heck of a lot of boat for the dollar.
Sides3mm aluminium plate
Top3mm aluminium plate
Bottom3mm aluminium plate
Max power 75hp
Standard (on test boat)
2 rod holders, Matrix 35 sounder, plumbed live bait tank with auto timer, side rod locker, berley bucket, hydraulic steering, Minn Kota RT55AP & batteries, nav lights, 27MHz radio, full side rails, marine carpet, fuel filter, auto bilge pump
Total cost as tested, including trailer, safety gear, all registrations and on-water instruction if needed - $26,585.
Elegant Boats are available in any colour. There is a large range of craft to suit all budgets from 4.1m to 6.2m. All can be custom modified.
Boat supplied by Raffi and Liana Demirjian, Elegant Boats and Tackle, 1/11 Industrial Drive, Lemon Tree Passage, NSW 2319. Ph/Fax. (02) 4984 5760. Mob 0427 414 522Reads: 1391