I have to admit I was never a devotee of Quinnies; I always thought they were mainly for those who liked to ‘potter’ on the water, with no serious commitment to it.
How that’s all changed! In the past few years, before my very eyes, Quintrex is putting out boats with every conceivable thing to make the trip just that bit more enjoyable. Finish, ride, models, configurations … this Gold Coast manufacturer is listening to what the public wants, going away, designing it and then delivering more than expected. I can understand now why the Quinnie packages are so attractive.
My latest assignment was to test the new 480 Freedom Sport bowrider. Walking into the TR Marineworld showroom at McGraths Hill, in western Sydney, there was chandlery, fishing tackle, water skis, trailer bits, motors and a feast of other goodies for those who love the water. Outside there were rows of gleaming boats, boats and more boats.
Ian Tricker, the head kahuna, greeted me and it was not long before we had the 480 Freedom Sport on the way to the boat ramp at Windsor.
We had the river to ourselves with little traffic.
The new 480 had basically the same statistics as its popular 475 predecessor but with a new internal layout and a slightly wider beam.
Although this boat is less than five metres Ian, who is at least 1.9 metres tall, and I (let’s face it, I’m no flyweight!) never got in each other’s way yet for the duration of the test.
Let’s have a close look at this boat before we push the throttle forward to see how she performs.
Up forward there is the usual small bowsprit with roller, pin and split cleat for tying off. The self-draining moulded poly anchor well is deep and will hold enough warp for those sorties close offshore when weather allows.
Solid split bow rails (standard issue) are important on a bowrider as passengers like to look for handholds. Two adults can sit comfortably in the 1307mm x 802mm bowrider section, supplemented with padded back support and cushioned seats with dry storage underneath. Don’t put life jackets there because they will be hard to get to and they must be within easy reach when you need them .
With a 408mm wide walk-through section in the four-piece tinted windscreen, I had no problem getting my girth up forward. A small hatch which can be secured open or shut by a simple bolt gives access to the bowrider section.
A grab rail sits atop the windscreen, giving plenty of hand holds, and the whole assembly is suitably robust.
Passenger and helm seating, although padded and comfy, is low and slightly cramped but forward vision is good and controls are nicely to hand. When standing and driving, all-round vision is excellent, although I had to stoop a little to operate the throttle.
A leather steering wheel adds to the boat’s charm and gives it a sporty look. In front of me I had trim, fuel, tacho and speed in easy read-out analogue dials and three fused switches operating nav lights, bilge pump and internal lighting.
Compass and a covered 27MHz radio come standard as well as a Lowrance X47 fish finder. The binnacle-style dash looks the part and the passenger faces a large glove box which is not lockable. Drink holders are everywhere (no alcohol when driving, please!) and there are small side pockets to hold bits and pieces.
I loved the new styled under-gunwale mouldings to stow two rods either side of the boat in safety and security.
Cockpit space (1903mm x 1607mm) is not compromised with space taken up for the bowrider section. Two can fish comfortably, three at a push.
Flush-mounted under-gunwale lights will keep the night fisho happy as will the positive buoyancy now built into the coamings. If the boat is swamped, it should float upright. A 90-litre underfloor tank has a gunwale filler and breathers either side of the transom for a quick fill.
Four rod holders will give a spread of lures or baits and all that is missing is a bait rigging table/cutting board, which is an option.
Across the transom is a removable rear lounge (1503mm) which covers battery, bilge pump, isolating switch and a water-separating fuel filter.
Our boat had a stainless steel boarding ladder but the mount can also accommodate a berley bucket or an auxiliary motor bracket. The Maxi 2 Transom has a full-width swim platform with grab rails, is fully floating and strong enough to accommodate the heavier four-stroke motors.
Our test boat was powered by a 75hp two stroke Mercury driving an 18” Vengeance stainless steel propeller – a perfect marriage.
The boat handled well. It’s a bit limiting conducting a test on a flat river but we spent a fair amount of time pushing the envelope to see how she would react under abnormal steering and power inputs.
All in all, the 480 Freedom Sport handled acceptably and safely. Turns under power showed no slip and little heel. Pushing hard across our own wake, the boat lifted and came down softly for a pressed aluminium hull.
Throwing the wheel left and right, the boat showed no sign of twitching or throwing back off the chines and I felt under control at all times. When the trim is right, the load comes off the wheel well.
Stationary, with both of us hanging over the gunwales, the boat dipped but not to any dangerous extent. In reverse, water swept over the swim platform and away with no sign of swamping.
Flat-chat across smooth water the tacho showed 5200rpm and the speedo indicated 69kmh (43mph), while at 4000rpm it showed a more economical 46kmh (29mph).
The boat came on the plane around 2800rpm although the transition is so smooth it’s hard to tell exactly when the boat has lifted.
As we eased the Freedom Sport back on the custom Quinnie trailer I noticed the walkway that comes standard. Why don’t all trailers have a metal walkway so you can get to the back without water coming up to your armpits? With 13” wheels, fold away jockey wheel and override brakes, the galvanised trailer is designed for long hauls.
I came away impressed with this package. If you are a first-time boat buyer, this will get you on the water economically and safely. The fisho will have plenty of room to ply their art yet have an all-round boat where the family can have fun skiing or pulling a biscuit. Take a drive out west and spend time looking around TR Marineworld. It will be time well spent with a plethora of helpful staff to answer your questions.
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