THE CYCLONE Boat Company continues to cause a storm in the recreational sportfishing market since shifting its focus exclusively to producing fishing boats, after reaching the pinnacle of excellence in the competitive social and racing ski boat market.
The latest from the Cyclone stable, the Cyclone 540 Value Pack, will certainly grab the attention of budget conscious family anglers who still want a quality product. The Value Pack comes with the same hull as all 540s, but has different extras depending on the category. The test boat was a Category 1, which is the base model. There are other categories depending on the options the buyer requires.
A great new feature of the Value Pack is that it comes as a ‘turn key’ package, with the completely factory-fitted boat, motor and trailer (BMT) package ready to go. This ensures absolute quality control, which is very high on Ross Wilson’s (the man behind The Cyclone Boat Co.) list of priorities. (Anyone who makes sure that every screw head in the boat aligns exactly has to be a touch fastidious!)
The side console layout, with open floor plan, creates a real feel of spaciousness, and this was particularly evident during the test run, as the photo boat was a centre console 540. As I hopped from one boat to the other, I thought I was getting into an entirely different boat, such was the difference in the layout.
Ross Wilson proudly showed me over the 540 Value Pack after picking me up at the Marlin Marina in Cairns. I was amazed at just how much storage there was in what appeared at first to be a very simple layout, of side console and two swivel bucket seats.
It quickly became evident that there was a lot more than met the eye in this little gem. On investigation there was actually storage to burn, with three underfloor compartments, two side pockets, an anchor well, an underseat box, two web side pockets and a large area under the side console.
As well as the standard anchor well, there’s a second well just back from the nose on the main floor, so there’s no need to keep changing anchors. Instead, a fully rigged reef anchoring setup can be stored in the main well and a complete sand and mud rig can be ready to go in the underfloor hatch.
All floor hatches have a rubber non-skid pad on top and are made of 10mm solid fibreglass. Ross has made his own moulds for the hatch lids and inserts and the finish and structural integrity of the hatches, as with the whole boat, is second to none. The hatches are fitted with over-camber latches, which are super low profile, so there’s nothing to trip on when moving around the boat.
The anchor system consists of a stainless steel split cross bollard with lock pin, so the anchor can be secured in position on the end of the bowsprit. The very solid bow roller setup is designed to withstand the riggers of anchoring on the reef.
It is the extra attention to detail in Cyclone boats that really impresses me. Things like the non-skid rubber pad on the top of the bowsprit, between the bollard and the bow roller, so the anchor won't damage the gel coat and tender knees have some reprieve when clambering aboard over the nose.In the middle of the boat is a huge fully-insulated underfloor icebox, which drains into the rear wet well/bilge. This icebox is 1200mm long and is designed to hold the biggest Spanish mackerel that may be caught. The third wet well at the rear has a bilge pump in the bottom, in a recessed section right on the transom, and offers another large fully-insulated storage compartment. The rear box is ideal to hold an ice slurry, while keeping the main compartment for fish storage. The self-draining cockpit comes with screw-in bungs in the scuppers, which can be left in if desired.
A great feature of the 540 range is that they pass 2C Survey without the need to add extra flotation, thanks to the Klegecell foam used in construction of the floor, stringers and transom. As well as the not having timber, which means no rot, every 540 will float if filled with water, even when fully rigged. Now that’s what I call peace of mind when you’re a long way from land!
Knowing that your boat won’t go to the bottom and leave you swimming, if somehow you manage to fill it with water, makes for a good night’s sleep before heading to the reef. I don’t know about you, but visions of being left to swim home is one of the things that often flashes through my mind the night before a big reef trip. (You’d think that after more than 40 years of going to sea in boats, I’d be past that stage.)
Ross has a great picture of one of the 540s being tested for survey, with seven blokes standing in the water-filled hull of the Cyclone boat.
I never cease to be amazed at the lengths Ross and the crew at Cyclone Boats go to in their pursuit of excellence, and the fully upholstered pivot bucket seats are yet another example. None of that tied-on, padded upholstery, over a PVC seat frame, for Cyclone boats. No – their seats are fully moulded, one piece, solid fibreglass, which is fully upholstered in top-quality materials with the Cyclone logo built in. Ross, of course, made the seat mould in the factory and the seats are laid up by hand. Not happy with the production through-the-floor seat mounts available on the market, Ross also has locally made, an extra large, stainless steel base plate for each seat.
The fully moulded side console is another piece of design excellence. It looks as though it is moulded into the top deck, but it is actually a separated one-piece mould. It fits so neatly Ross had to show me where it was attached. The low-profile console has a heap of storage and leg room underneath, with a small, tinted Perspex screen to keep spray off the instruments. Not that you have to worry about spray – the 540 is the driest open boat I’ve ever been in.
The Value Pack comes with a 75hp Mercury two-stroke, with a stainless steel prop and standard instrumentation of tacho, speedo, trim gauge, fuel meter and hour meter. A four-switch panel is positioned to the right of the steering wheel, in perfect position for easy access. The inside face of the console has a built-in five-tray tackle box, with clear perspex lid.
The helm seat is adjustable, forward and back, and has a moulded storage box as a base. A great feature of the helm seat is that the driver can swing around in either direction, while remaining seated and be in instant fighting position, within easy reach of the closest through-gunwale rod holder. This is the perfect trolling set up, as the driver can be fighting a fish in seconds, without having to jump up and race to the rod. The Value Pack comes fitted with four stainless steel through-gunwale rod holders, in trolling positions, and a three rod under gunwale storage rack.
Two small side pockets are complemented with two webbed elastic topped side pockets – one handy to the passenger seat and the other under the console out of the weather.
The Bermuda baitboard, which is fitted over the top of the motor, slides off to reveal a fully functional ski pole – ready to go.
All of a sudden you don’t just have a fishing boat but a family boat, which looks as much at home on Lake Tinaroo, towing the rugrats around on a wakeboard, as it does heading to the reef fishing or a family day around the islands.
The test boat was a soft silver grey in colour, with a special non-reflective gel coat, which was very easy on the eye, for both appeal and reflection of glare. The finish on all Cyclone boats is the absolute best you will find.
For a base model fitout, the Value Pack – Category 1, Cyclone sure has plenty of go. The 75hp Mercury two-stroke got the 540 on the plane at 18km/h (11mph, 10kt) and produced 28km/h (17mph, 15kt) at 3500rpm, 38km/h (24mph, 21kt) at 4000rpm, 44km/h (27mph, 24kt) at 4500rpm, 53km/h (33mph, 29kt) at 5000rpm, 60km/h (37mph, 32kt) at 5500rpm, and topped out doing 64km/h (40mph, 35kt) at 5800 rpm.
The Value Pack comes fitted with Bay Star hydraulic steering and is an absolute pleasure to drive. Ross really knows how to balance a boat and the 540 side console sits dead flat even with only one aboard. (He recently got back from the USA where he was flown over just to set up a boat ready for the upcoming World Water Ski Racing Championships.)
The seas were pretty flat during the test but I know from having tested a number of 540s in the past that their sea handling capabilities are the best I’ve ever experienced in a boat under six metres. They just get up on top and fly!
I will never forget, when testing the centre console 540, leaving the water when we hit the wake coming off Aqua Cat (a 49-foot charter boat) at 40km/h. The 540 centre console left the water so high it spun the prop but it came down on feathers. There wasn’t the slightest sign of slamming. Ross’ little eight-year-old daughter Emma just sat on the seat in front of the console.
The Cyclone 540 Value Pack – Category 1 is in the Rolls Royce class at a Holden price and will be snapped up by discerning buyers looking for a family fishing boat that image-conscious teenagers will love to be towed behind and dad can’t wait to go fishing in.
I know, I know – when a boat really grabs me I get excited just writing about it!
Category 1 turnkey package is priced at approx. $26,900 (ex-factory). For further information on the Cyclone range of boats, contact the Cyclone Boat Co. on (07) 40565761. For southeast Queensland enquiries please contact Coorparoo Marine on (07) 3397 4141.
Length - 5.4m
Beam - 2.18m
Draft - 0.3m
Deadrise - 22-degrees
1) The Cyclone 540 comes in a wide range of colours but the test boat was a soft silver grey, with a special non-reflective gel coat, which is very easy on the eye, for both appeal and reflection of glare.
2) The profile shot reveals the open floor plan of the Cyclone 540 Value Pack – Category 1
3) A Bermuda baitboard clips off to reveal a fully functional ski pole.
4) A fully rigged sand and mud anchor can be stored in the front underfloor compartment, with a complete reef rig in the main anchor well.
5) The large middle underfloor hatch conceals a massive 1200mm long fully-insulated esky. Note the five-tray tackle box and the storage compartment under the helm seat.
6) The cut-away console and perfectly positioned, sliding seat allows the helmsman to swing around in either direction to be in instant fish fighting position. Note the elastic top webbed side pocket, which extends right up under the console. It is ideal for storing gear out of the weather and up off the floor.
7) The elastic-top, webbed, side pockets are ideal for storing nick knacks. Note the stainless steel through gunwale rod holder, with cap.