Ally Craft certainly won’t need an introduction to Fishing Monthly readers as its range of boats extends from car-toppers all the way through to cuddy cabins.
It definitely didn’t take me long to work out that this fine craft from the Gold Coast has what it takes to deliver a great time on the water.
The 480 Front Runner is a neat five-seater with plenty of freeboard, heaps of fishing room and one of the best rides I’ve experienced in an alloy craft of this size and configuration. A rigid bimini was part of the tested package and a sensible option given the strength of the Summer sun.
The 480 is an uncomplicated, user-friendly craft. For example, the bowsprit and deep anchor well are in close proximity to the pick, making lifting very easy due to a nifty recess in the forward bulkhead, between the paired dash modules. The recess allows the person in charge of the anchor to simply flip the centre of the windscreen to port and then stand braced against the bulkhead to access the anchor line. Stooping or straining forward is out, reducing the chance of back injuries.
Around the three-piece windscreen a strong grab rail provides a good brace point if required. The split bow rail is standard.
I found the adjustable seats very strong, quite supportive and just the right height to see over the windscreen when driving. A lockable glovebox for the front passenger complements the compact but functional dash layout in front of the skipper, where gauges for trim, volts, revs and speed are installed on a raised section above the Ally Craft embossed wheel.
The new-style forward control for the 75 Evinrude E-Tec is conveniently set into the side of the craft. Gear selection occurred without the slightest jar or snick.
A carpeted floor is standard throughout and the neat fit reflects attention to detail. The gunwale sides went down well into the hull, where the cross braces could be noted on the carpet’s extremity. I have no doubt that these braces contributed greatly to the hull’s rigidity and reduce any trace of drumming or thumping under way at speed.
The Ally Craft’s cockpit was very deep, which provides peace of mind for parents when youngsters are aboard and also makes for a craft that’s quite capable offshore in the right conditions. The design of the boarding door to port, sitting well above the aft boarding platform and the waterline, is another bonus. Water was unable to find its way aboard even when reversing.
A padded backrest on the starboard quarter of the transom forms part of the three-person folding lounge. One pair of transom rod holders is standard but more are certainly an option. Metre-long side pockets are handy for gear storage and while a livewell can be ordered from the factory, one was not featured in the test craft.
Completing the stern features were gunwale and transom grab rails and a full width boarding platform including a ladder for the boarding gate. It would be very easy to have a swim on a hot day if the fish were a bit slow.
The ride was exceptionally good and rough conditions did not faze the 480 Front Runner. The fine entry minimised impact with chop while the keel, large reversed outer chines and 10 prominent longitudinal strakes ensured great stability at rest and under way.
The 480 Front Runner is rated for engines from 60hp to 90hp and the 75hp E-Tec was a perfect match with smoothness, light weight. lack of noise and eagerness throughout the rev range. Planing was at 14.2kmh at 2700rpm and I found an ideal cruising speed in the chop around 35kmh at a modest 3500rpm.
The hull managed the pace with no nasty bumps, thumps or impacts. She handled like a dream whether running across, into, or with the wind chop. For smooth-water cruising I would opt for a 4000rpm throttle setting with 43.2kph on the GPS and at those revs, the E-Tec was still quiet enough to hold a normal conversation.
Wide open throttle saw the Ally Plate leaping off the chop at a spirited 64.2kmh and even at that pace the ride was still very good – in all honesty, far better than I expected.
The versatility of the 480 Front Runner makes it the sort of boat that has appeal to anglers right across the board. Even a new chum to boating would find the hull devoid of vices while those excellent transom and gunwale heights and impressive stability make for a very seaworthy craft.
The light weight and seamless power of the 75 E-Tec gave the new Ally Plate a lively, well-balanced feeling that there was always power in reserve. If the 480 Front Runner was in my garage I’d order a livewell, install a sounder and radio and head offshore in good weather with plenty of confidence. It’s that sort of a boat.
Inquiries to Ally Craft on 07 5537 6382 or email to --e-mail address hidden--
Length (overall) - 4.9m
Beam - 2.25m
Power rating - 60-90hp
Power as fitted - 75 E-Tec
Hull thickness - 4mm bottom, 3mm sides
Fuel - 60L
Towing - Larger four-cylinder
Price as tested - $27,990
The Ally Craft’s fine entry makes for a smooth ride while the keel, large reversed chines and 10 prominent strakes ensure great stability at rest and under way.
The bowsprit and deep anchor well are close to the anchor, making lifting easy due to a nifty recess in the forward bulkhead.
The Ally Craft 480 Front Runner is soft-riding and deep enough to be fine for a day out with the family or a sortie offshore.
The Ally Craft’s cockpit showing the side pockets, boarding gate with ladder, fold-up lounge and grabrails.
A lockable glovebox for the front passenger complements the compact but functional dash layout.