Most boat builders and dealers began their careers in dealerships or apprenticeships, but Ron Board of Tracker Marine is different. Ron’s previous experience, for more than 20 years, has been as a financial advisor.
“The financial industry isn’t how it used to be – I used to enjoy the face-to-face nature of the work, but not much of that remains nowadays,” Ron said from his mezzanine office in his new and luxurious showroom at the entrance to the Gold Coast’s Coomera Marine Precinct.
And with three sons in their twenties who were keen for a career change into self-employment, Ron started researching the niche for imported boats in the Australian marketplace.
“Originally, I saw a niche in the bass boat/tournament boat market, but after touring the Tracker factories in the USA I found out that there was so much more available,” he said. “When the showroom is finally finished, we’ll have pontoon boats and bow riders accompanying aluminium and fibreglass bass boats.”
And at the time of this test, this goal was rapidly approaching.
There were buyers for Ron’s boats even before the showroom was complete. One an astute buyer from South Australia went through the exercise of pricing a pontoon boat bought from Tracker in the USA and then freighted to Australia, so could see whether it would be cheaper for him to buy it direct instead of through Tracker Marine.
“Apart from warranty issues for the boat and outboards, the end result was that it was actually several thousand dollars more expensive for the customer to do it himself,” Ron explained.
So, with the confidence that the boat and motor were covered by extensive warranties, we took the flagship of Nitro’s current range available in Australia – the 901CDX fitted with a 200HP Mercury OptiMax – out for a spin.
At 19’2”, the 901 isn’t a small craft. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it would be one of the biggest craft fishing the Australian BREAM/BASS tournament circuits at the moment. It is supplied with a custom, twin-axle trailer that’s a work of art in itself. Like most American bass boats, the trailers are individually designed and built for each model of boat. This means there are no adjustments to be made on the skids at any time – they can’t rattle loose and the ride is quiet and safe.
It does mean, though, that you need a reasonably deep ramp to launch. There’s no pushing nearly a ton of boat off dry carpet!
With over 25 years of boat-building experience, you’d expect a $60,000 boat to have every conceivable comfort added to comfortable and functional design – and it does.
At the helm, a Hot Foot throttle and wheel-mounted trim and tilt mean that that you can open this rig up and keep both hands on the wheel. All of the instruments are easily visible and are mounted in a moulded dash.
Controls for the dual-livewell system are further to the right, and you can pump-in, pump-out and recirculate the water in each livewell independently by manipulating these controls. Naturally, all of the switches feature timers, so that the boat can automatically look after your catch.
Little touches make all of the difference. Beside the helm seat, there’s a waterproof compartment with a 12 volt socket that you can use to store (and charge) your mobile phone, wallet and car keys while you’re hurtling along at over 60 miles an hour.
The model we tested was dual console, which means that at high speed the passenger is also protected from the elements while travelling and has their own glove-box.
Abundant underfloor waterproof storage is a real plus. You can stow gear in any of the compartments and not worry about removing it sodden after a rain shower. Most of the compartments have lift-out inserts that you can take inside to organise your gear before a trip. Under one of these inserts, there’s even a dedicated area to securely store a spare propeller!
The real estate up the front of the boat is enormous. There’s ample room to lay out your quiver of rods and a couple of deck-straps to keep them there while you’re changing locations. For longer trips, you can stow the rods in either of the two full-length rod lockers that are internally lit and have gas struts to keep them open while you’re moving your tackle.
Splitting the rod lockers are several tackle lockers – some with guides to hold Plano-style trays vertically for easy access. Most lids are gas-strutted and most of the compartments have lights. The lights don’t turn on automatically when you open the lid; rather, you flip a switch on the console.
Up front, there’s a 67lb MotorGuide electric motor and a trim-tilt switch for the outboard. They’re designed to be used with your feet, so you don’t have to walk back to the console to do it. You may think that 67lb isn’t enough thrust for a boat this size, but in practice, it’s ample – even against a strong Coomera River run-out tide. The electric motor batteries are charged via a Guest on-board charger.
There’s a Lowrance LCD sounder fitted at the bow, another sounder/GPS at the helm and a Lowrance depth flasher mounted in the console. Under the decks you can fit over 200 litres of fuel and the oil bottle for the engine.
Clicking the gear shift into forward and planting the Hot Foot pedal, the Nitro rose slowly and easily to the plane. With a 23” propeller fitted, it’s not designed to leap onto the plane in two seconds – it’s propped to propel you to substantial speeds when up there. Using the helm mounted trim-tilt lever, you can comfortably and safely control and trim the boat with both hands on the wheel.
Trimmed in, the hull planes easily at 3000rpm. Add more revs, though, and you need to trim the engine out to get more of the hull up and out of the water. At about 50mph, your eyes start watering – even behind your sunnies – and you know that you’re going fast!
Overall, there’s not much a tournament angler could complain about with the Nitro. It’s been built by a company that’s been making lure fishing boats for decades, and has a locally-redeemable warranty.
And pricing for the Nitro boats? There are various options available on the base model hulls and motors. Nitro aluminium bass boat packages start at $26,987, while fibreglass Nitros start at $25,909. A base model 901 will set you back $53,413, and the model we tested with all of the options costs $63,967. Call Tracker Marine on (07) 5580 0288 for more details or a catalogue, or visit www.trackermarine.com.au.
200hp OptiMax fitted with a 23” s/s propeller
Make/model - Nitro 901 CDX
Length - 19’2” (5.8m)
Beam - 8’ (2.4m)
Max hp - 200
Person cap - 4
Total package weight - 1450kg
Package price - from $53, 413