The Top Gun Sports Cruiser is a craft that shows a great deal of potential for keen anglers. It exhibits a good standard of quality fittings throughout, and will fulfil all-round bay and offshore requirements.
The craft is manufactured in China for a Japanese company under strict Japanese quality control. In fact, the Top Gun will be in service at the Beijing Olympics as patrol boats for the sailing events. This duty requires meeting stringent criteria, including very high build standards involving Corecell material (light weight but very strong honeycombed fibreglass as used in motor racing and the aviation industry) serving to strengthen the hull's longitudinal and bulkhead supports throughout.
The bonus to this craft is the hull is very quiet when under way, and it is relatively lightweight for its size. The 7m Top Gun with 150hp Mercury and tandem trailer is only around 1780kg, which means that you wouldn’t need a big 4X4 to tow the rig.
An immediate stand out feature is the sizeable layout. It reminded me of the longboat style crafts that I've seen from time to time, except that the Top Gun offers more of everything – seating, centre cab, and a toilet.
Up front is the non-skid fore deck with a large anchor well and accompanying winch. Directly behind, there is seating on the full width storage well, which would also make an excellent fish box or ice chest. There's an additional wide two or three person seat on the front of the craft's centre cab.
All seat padding is clipped-in, allowing easy set up for the day’s requirements. The craft's lockable centre cab, with front ventilation hatch, would be suitable for storing gear away from the weather and is even large enough to sleep in. The two-piece carpeted floor can be lifted up to allow access to the craft's toilet.
A strong wrap around style windscreen was mounted on the leading edge of the centre cab and I found the screen offered plenty of slipstream protection while under way. Additional weather protection was also provided by the craft's rigidly mounted bimini on a massive T-top framework. Mounted on the aft section of the T-top was four rod holders plus a running light, which was high enough to be out of the way of any fishing activity – offshore jigging would be no bother.
The Skipper has the only seating in the helm area. The seat was a flip over bolster style unit – a top quality Springfield (USA) job – so there's the option of either remaining seated or sliding the seat back a tad to stand braced against the chair.
The Top Gun's dash layout consisted of a compass and Navman 6500 Track Fish sounder/GPS on the flat section aft of the screen, with main gauges below set into a raised area to give them prominence. Volts meter, fuel, speedo and tacho were above the five spoke wheel linked to hydraulic steering with an array of switches, winch control master switch, temperature gauge positioned lower. The forward controls for the Mercury and ignition switch were set into a dedicated section to starboard of the wheel, while a marine radio was located below.
Aft of the Skipper's seat, the cockpit featured a lot of fishing room; four or five anglers could work with ease. The floor was carpeted and self-draining. Rod holders were mounted on the gunwales, while a full width moulded unit/box was set up with removable cushions stretched full width across in front of the engine well.
The moulded box had three separate compartments. The first gave access to the fuel tank via the port hatch (a vital necessity with today's four stroke engines that cannot handle any water contamination of fuel) plus two more storage compartments – the largest ideal for the catch – stretching across to starboard.
I found the aft seating, for up to three, quite comfortable during test runs as the clip-in cushions had ample depth. A grab handle was also positioned for each outside passenger.
A bait station with cutting board and a pair of rod holders was located centrally, just ahead of the engine, while a spacious live well was set up in each corner of the transom. Surprisingly, side pockets were not offered within the Top Gun's cockpit, but given the amount of other storage compartments it probably wasn’t necessary. Given the length of the Top Gun's cockpit sides, a couple of rod racks would have been a handy addition.
The Top Gun is rated for engines from 100hp, up to 150hp as top power. The 150hp Mercury performed very well with three onboard, managing a nice turn of speed of 72.4km/h at 5,200rpm. Planing occurred at 20.4km/h at 2,500rpm, which gave some indication of the 14 degree deadrise hull's efficiency. At 3,000rpm, the craft saw 27.5km/h on the Navman 6500 GPS, 4000rpm at 47.8km/h and 5,000rpm at 65.6km/h.
The 150hp Mercury was a very lively engine and offered instant throttle response with little noise. Given that the craft carries a nine person rating, the 150hp would definitely be the most appropriate power for large groups, otherwise, given the efficiency of the hull, lesser power could be employed.
The Top Gun Sports Cruiser's ride was predictably smooth during runs in the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and within the Gold Coast Seaway; the latter being enlivened as we jumped a few waves.
The craft’s 7m length, 2.3m beam and its relatively light weight (775kg without motor), responded well to driver input courtesy of the finger-light Unikas (Japanese) hydraulic steering system. This was particularly true during the work in the Seaway when the wave impact was not excessive, and the hull exhibited quite good sea keeping attributes.
Looking at the protection offered by the centre cab and bimini, the skipper would stay pretty dry if powering into chop or swell, but aft passengers might cop a bit of spray if wind and waves were quartering. Nevertheless, there would be room for a couple of people to stand up with the skipper in the helm area and simply hang on to the grab handle next to the cabin door or the T-top frame.
I was impressed with the stability levels of the Top Gun. Thanks to its large size and the hull's 14 degree deadrise, it settled nicely into the water at rest and sat quite steady; two or three people on the one side didn't make much difference at all.
The Top Gun Sport Cruiser is an interesting craft as it combines a large seating capacity with on-board features. Rod holders, bait wells, storage for the catch and a handy cutting board all serve to assist fishing, and the power winch and toilet are handy extras. The finish and fit out of the Top Gun is of a high standard that comes with a three year structural warranty.
Enquiries should be directed to Marine Landing Pty Ltd on 0400 505 541 or at www.marinelanding.com . As reviewed the Top Gun (including a tandem trailer) would come home for $66,969.
|Motor fitted:||150 EFI Mercury|