Australian boat manufacturers are facing stiff competition from imported models. It’s not just the strength of the Aussie dollar at the moment (though that’s a factor). It’s the fact that there are plenty of other countries where people enjoy the great outdoors as much as we do, and they have developed machines that fulfil that desire to get out and about on the water.
Over the last five years, nearly every Australian boat manufacturer has released a bowrider model in their range, and this has been an area of growth in the domestic boating market. A bowrider is the sort of boat that gets the approval of the entire family, even if it is a 19ft centre-console designed for fishing.
Previously we’ve reviewed the flagship Nitro bass boat, imported by Tracker Marine at Coomera. Now it’s time to look at the Tahoe Q4SF – a bow-rider with some interesting fishing features.
Bowriders, particularly those with inboards, are pretty slick looking machines. The Tahoe is no exception. Measuring in at 5.92m (19’5”) and rated to a 220hp inboard engine, the Tahoe is no slouch. The test model was fitted with a 220hp MerCruiser 4.3L V6, which catapulted the craft onto the plane and hit a top speed of around 52mph with a 23” propeller. At just over 20mph, it threw a wake any non-fishermen would get excited about.
Fifteen degrees of deadrise gave quite comfortable performance, but let’s face it, performance doesn’t sell the boat to the other family members. It’s the fit-out that does and I’m sure the Tahoe will impress – even with its sneaky little fishing additions that’ll let the keen anglers sneak out and chase some fish.
Although rated to carry seven persons, the Q4SF comfortably puts five on the water for a day out or a couple of anglers fishing in comfort. To do this, it seats the driver and passenger at the level of the helm and three across the seats at the back of the craft. If you’re taking seven, then you can fit two more in the bow section. The port and starboard rear seats are the ones that you can remove and that turn into fishing seats, but more on this later.
A ski ring is fitted so you can stow the wakeboard in the underfloor compartment, fill the cooler with lunch and drinks, pop up the bimini top and you’re ready for a family fun day. A boarding ladder allows riders to get in and out of the water easily, as the Tahoe is a deep-sided craft.
The entire cockpit is carpeted and dotted with drink holders and storage areas. Anyone who’s not comfortable needs to get back to their palace.
It’s dead easy to transform this boat into a fishable platform. Naturally, it won’t be as fishable as the tournament-ready Nitro, but there’s every opportunity to drift and cast lures, under electric power, down a snaggy bank and keep your catch alive in the plumbed livewell.
You can stow the fore and aft cushions, drag a couple of pedestal poles out from the side trays and then put the rear seats on the poles and mount them on the fore- and back-decks.
There’s even an excellent quick-mount system for MotorGuide electrics, which takes less than 30 seconds to add a tiller-steer, bow mounted 54lb electric motor. You line up the keyed hole in the front, drop the fitting in, twist the motor around 45 degrees and tighten a knurled oversized bolt to secure the motor. Plug in the power cord and you’re ready to go.
I was a little sceptical about not having a foot pedal, but the seating is designed to have the telescoping tiller handle in exactly the right position when you are seated. To be honest, it’d be great for those who have problems steering foot-controlled electrics.
Your mate in the back isn’t neglected, either. He’s sitting on the same style of padded seat that you are and has a plumbed 50-litre livewell on the starboard transom right next to where he’s sitting. It’s embarrassing to many Australian manufacturers to say this, but the livewell design on this boat is excellent – better than in some Australian ‘tournament’ models. It doesn’t spill water everywhere!
On the port side, there’s a rotomoulded insert that’ll hold some of your tackle and keep it dry.
Features that are useful for all applications include two insulated under-seat storage areas up front. These can be used as extra cooler space or to store fish or your tackle. You could even use them for wet gear and clothing storage.
The helm is comfortable and well laid out, although I couldn’t adjust the seat so that viewing through the windscreen was comfortable – I found myself either looking over it or crouching down and peering through it. Ron Board of Tracker marine assures me a bolster can be fitted to the seat to allow it to be raised or lowered to meet the needs of different skippers.
That said, the cockpit was incredibly quiet. At cruising speeds we found ourselves neither blasted by the wind nor shouting at each other.
Like most imports, the trailer is a work of art. Carpeted skids allow easy drive-on/drive-off launching and retrieving. A real advantage is the swing-away draw-bar. It takes 10 seconds to take a couple of feet off the length, allowing you to fit this boat in a smaller garage than you’d think. You still need 20 feet of length to fit it in though.
The price as tested, with the 220hp outboard and resting on the purpose-built trailer, is $47,838 and Tracker can furnish you with an arm-long list of options to ensure that your rig is customised to your personal needs.
Want to know more about the Tahoe and the Tracker Marine’s other brands on imported boats? Ron Board is the man to talk to, and he can answer all of your questions and quoting requirements. Call Tracker Marine on (07) 5580 0288.
Model - Tahoe Q4SF
Length - 5.92m (19’5”)
Beam - 2.31m
Maximum hp - 220
Maximum capacity - 7 persons
Fuel capacity - 105L
Package length - 20’0”
Package width - 2.46m
Draft - 17”