IT’S been a while since I jumped aboard an Ally Craft – well over a year – so when I boarded their 510 Bow Rider I immediately noticed some significant changes.
I’ve tested more bow riders this past year than all the previous years put together. The bow rider configuration, with its central helm and abundant seating for’ard and aft, is attractive to families and boaters who like to socialise with friends while on the water. These boats are also suitable for just about all water activities.
Another reason behind the bow riders’ growing popularity is the improvements in their performance, especially aluminium models in the five-metre range. Some of the early models were real dogs, riding very high in the bow and difficult and dangerous to drive. Now that most modern bow riders are spacious, ride well, are versatile and affordable, there are many more on the market.
The 510 from Ally Craft is at that size equally at home around the estuary, heading out across the bay or harbour or even for a weekend away. You don’t need a 4WD to tow it and it doesn’t coast an arm and a leg to run.
It is amazing how much room there is in this boat. The beam is 2.35 metres and continues well forward before it starts to pull in at the bow. The sides of the boat come up to give an inside depth of 1.25 metres, which allows the little terrors a bit more relaxation to run around inside without falling over.
My 18-month-old daughter has no fear in boats and is always looking over the side, so it’s nice to have that height there to retain her. Mind you, it doesn’t take the kids long to work out that side pockets are great steps!
There are three key sitting areas in the 510: Two helm seats, a rear folding lounge (seats three) and for’ard fixed bench seats in front of the helm (seats three kids or two adults).
Generally, on choppy days, those couple of seats up the front are a bit too hard to sit on without bouncing around. On a calm day, though, everyone wants to sit up there in the sun and let the wind blow through their hair.
When you do load up a boat it’s a good practice to spread the load evenly. Too much weight down the stern and you’ll go back to that bow-high problem, too much forward and any vessel will be impossible to steer and in danger of broaching.
Thankfully, the Ally Craft 510 Bow Rider has huge storage under those bow seats and you really can put a heap of gear up in there. There’s also a bit of room at the foot of the helm seats. Most of those other smaller items and fishing gear can be kept in the side pockets, and a few of the larger items (buckets, tackle boxes, etc.) can slide under the rear lounge.
The optional folding canopy over the helm area is pretty well a must because it provides shade and some degree of protection from the elements. Even while it’s fully extended you can still fish from the bow or the aft cockpit. If you want to get real serious with the fishing, or soak up a bit more sun on a Winter’s day, the canopy folds up against the windscreen.
Other changes include appealing moulded fibreglass dashes. Because the bow rider has the walk-through section in the windscreen, the dash is split so really you have two small dashes, which doesn’t allow any big sounders or GPS units to be fitted.
This Ally Craft has a full pod extension which increases the planing surface and provides more lift in the stern. Combine this with the wide beam, and the moderate 14° deadrise and you end up with a hull that’s very stable on the water and has more than enough planing surface to deliver a flat ride. That means that as you power up, you don’t end up struggling to see over a bow pointing to the sky. the 510 Bow Rider rides level enough so that you can remain seated while driving at all times.
The only thing I didn’t particularly like was that it was awkward to stand and drive this boat. The cockpit drops off into a foot well but there isn’t enough room between the seat and the steering wheel for you to stand and drive. However, it’s nice and comfortable when you sit.
The 90hp two-stroke Yamaha engine fitted to the 510 was a perfect match. It provided plenty of power, allowing us to travel at around the 20-knot mark without the need to push the engine hard and use more fuel.
This boat’s excellent stability makes it easy to get onto the plane and also makes it easy to drive – yet another reason for the Ally Craft’s popularity with families. You’re not going to have any nasty leans when you cross another boat’s wash or encounter anything that isn’t going to be reasonably easy to predict. That is one of the big advantages of having a boat with that moderate 14° deadrise. The downside, though, is that the ride can be harder in rough conditions.
If you go for a run in Ally Craft 510 you’ll appreciate why it’s so popular. I guessed that the boat would be priced at around $30,000, and almost fell over when I was told that it was $26,990. This included the optional bimini top, folding rear ladder and lounge, bow cover, safety gear and rego. Now that’s good value!
For more information on the Ally Craft range contact Boaties Marine Super Store, West Gosford, phone 02 4322 8165 email --e-mail address hidden--
Make/model Ally Craft 510 bow rider
Construction Pressed alloy
Length 5.18m (overall)
Max hp 90hp
Fuel 60L under floor
Flotation foam blocks
It’s nice to jump in an aluminium bow rider and find plenty of room, good stability and a level ride.
The Ally Craft 510 Bow Rider presents well.
The full pod makes a big difference to the performance of the boat, and the 90hp Yamaha two-stroke delivers more than enough speed and power.
Folding rear lounges give you that bit more seating and comfort.
5. There’s plenty of storage under those big for’ard seats.
6. The layout makes it easy to move around, with plenty of space to walk through the split windscreen to the bow.Reads: 6505