‘Stealth by name, stealth by nature’ is exactly what you get with Southwind’s latest release. It’s quiet, sleek, smooth and one of the best performing 5m fibreglass boats I’ve been in for a long time.
The Stealth was designed for the growing number of anglers chasing fish around the estuaries and freshwater impoundments on lures and fly. The popularity of the BREAM and BASS tournaments around the country have fed the growing demand on this style of boat, also boosted by the present wave of catching fish on soft plastics and very small lures. The design of the Stealth plays a big part in being successful in this style of fishing, and certainly adds to the enjoyment of it.
Basic boat requirements are a good ride, stability, fishability, storage and economy. It would be nice to have all of these in one boat, and the Stealth goes as close as I’ve seen to achieving this.
To start with, the 19-degree deadrise of the fibreglass hull delivers a ride that easily copes with the chop of large impoundments or open bay work. Have a look at the hull on any of the Southwind boats and you’ll notice a couple of very significant features. You can’t help but see the big reversed planing strakes along with a significant reversed outer chine. This contributes greatly to the planing ability and performance of the hull. The entry is fine and swept back, so the hull cuts through the chop rather than bangs into it. What you end up with is a good rough water hull.
With 4.5-5.5m deep-veed fibreglass boats you often get a good ride but the stability, particularly at rest, is a bit ordinary – and frightening in some cases! The Stealth has a beam of 2.29m, and this extra width – along with the hull design – makes it the most stable 5m fibreglass boat that I have been on. We had three adults leaning over one side of the boat, and there was no thought that one or two should maybe move back over to the centre. It really is that good!
To have a hull that performs well and is super stable is an achievement in itself.
During the test run we had four adults on board (averaging 70kg each), 50L of fuel in the tank and another 40L of water in the front well. Along with the other standard items in the boat, that’s a decent load. I expected the 60hp four-stroke Yamaha outboard to struggle with this, or at least for the boat to be bow high while trying to get up on the plane. This wasn’t the case at all, and we eased up onto the plane, level and without fuss.
The boys from Southwind and Stones Corner Marine were with me on the test, and it was good to see them taking the time to try various propellers. We started with a 13” prop and ended up with a 12”, and they were still playing with props when I left. Boat buyers too often get just whatever is on the engine, and while this might be fine on some boats, it doesn’t suit all of them.
The change in props saw the revs increase from 5300rpm to 5900rpm. A fuel flow metre was also attached during the trials, and the change in props saw a reduction from 16L an hour to 13L an hour. That’s a fair saving in fuel and a vast improvement in performance.
The hull will take engines up to 100hp, so there’s plenty of scope to find an engine that suits your needs. The performance of the 60hp four-stroke was more than satisfactory considering the load that we had on.
The standard fuel tank is 80L with the option of 115L under the floor. Considering the fuel economy, and that was in the high rev range, there is plenty of room to travel a few miles out on the water.
An area often overlooked in boats is some sort of flotation in the hull. The Stealth, like all Southwind Boats has the hull foam filled. In addition to the buoyancy factor, this makes for a quieter ride in the water and increased hull strength.
The layout of a boat designed for a specialised type of fishing is very important, and I know that a lot of trial and error has gone into the construction and layout of the for’ard casting platform and storage area. Although this particular model is directed at the recreational fishermen, minor changes have been made to suit the live fish commercial fisherman who have very specific needs for holding tanks for the keeping of live fish.
The raised casting platform is constructed of a fibreglass top deck and inner walls. With core cell matting in between, to give increased structural strength, you end up with a very sturdy platform to move around on. The area is large enough for two anglers to work from, with a single removable lean seat in the centre. The lean seat offers support while fighting fish. A big fish yes, but it would be nothing to head out into the bay in this boat and chase a few big longtail tuna – and who knows what you could catch if you are lucky enough to be fishing the tropics.
There are six separate compartments built below the casting deck, each of which is easily isolated and converted into a holding tank for live fish, and this is where the boat overlaps into the commercial sector. By having a number of separate areas you can distribute the weight depending on your load. In the test boat, only one of the tanks was used as a holding tank with the others used for storage.
One thing that’s easy to overlook (and you only pick this up by being in a number of different boats) is that, due to the fibreglass construction of this area, there is no swelling – as can be the case with timber decks when they get wet. There are no screws and strips of angle to hold all the pieces of timber together. Hence no sharp edge, warping decks and lids, and no screws that work loose with time.
The casting deck and storage is a neat piece of work and extremely practical. The format of this rig with its side console delivers plenty of room to move down one side of the boat and across the stern. It’s not a big console, but sufficient to mount the necessary electronic and give more storage below for bulky items.
Side pockets were not fitted to this particular boat, but they are available. You can have one or two. I’d be inclined to put one running from the side console back to the transom for your longer items such as paddles, and leave the other one without. The console side, with the seat behind it, isn’t really practical for fishing so a side pocket wouldn’t get in the way.
On the other side, the way the boat is built the inside of the boat comes down from the side decks about three quarters of the way. The area behind here is readily accessible and makes a great place to mount a few rod brackets for horizontal storage. Here they are fully protected, and when you have a couple of fly rods that could be worth anywhere from $500 to $1000 it makes a lot more sense to store them in here rather than lying them flat on the deck where they usually end up.
The very back of the boat has two moulded seats in each corner that house the batteries and cables below. These areas are best left for just that, as there isn’t a lot of room in these anyway and there is loads of storage elsewhere in the boat.
In a month or so one lucky angler is going to win this boat as second prize at this yea’rs Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo. Some prize – valued at nearly $30,000. I don’t think there’d be too many tears shed at not coming first! The Southwind Stealth is a brilliant boat and is well and truly worth a serious look.
Make/model – Southwind Stealth
Length – 5.0m
Beam – 2.29m
Weight – 610kg (hull only)
Deadrise – 19 degrees
Fuel – 80L standard (115L optional)
Max hp – 100hp four-stroke
Flotation – foam filled.
1) The Southwind Stealth glides through the water with ease.
2) For everyday use the four-stroke 60hp Yamaha outboard has more than enough power and speed, even with a load on.
3) Constructed of fibreglass, the front deck and storage area is solid with no movement, flexing or rattling.
4) There’s no shortage of storage in this casting platform, where any number of compartments can be turned into live fish wells.
5) A couple more seats down the back with batteries and so forth under the seats.
6) The side console is simple, straightforward and has dry storage inside.Reads: 4994