NEW FROM Bundaberg’s Polycraft Industries is the 4.1m Challenger, which is unlike any other boat on the market. Made from rotathene, which is a UV-stabilized polyethylene, it’s virtually indestructible.
The hull is of one-piece construction with two access hatches to the hull and a motor well at the transom. It has two storage compartments at the bow and a self-draining anchor well, as well as a bollard and two stainless bow rails. There’s a false floor that runs down the centre of the boat that can be removed for cleaning.
The hull has the standard barra/bass boat nose, but has well defined chines that make it turn exceptionally well and keep it extremely stable. The transom steps in accommodating the motor, which also adds to the hull stability and a level take off under power. There are two options with the Challenger, the tiller steer outboard option that has a 30hp rating or a side console with two seat bases fitted, and a 40hp rating.
I have fitted my Challenger out for sportfishing including plumbing a live well and here is how I did it.
Standard tools are all that’s need when working with the poly boat. I used the front left storage compartment as my live well. It holds around 90litres of water and is sealed and drained.
Firstly I bored a hole in the top of the compartment and pushed a ribbed bilge hose back towards the transom. In the well I connected a piece of poly pipe onto the bilge hose and screwed saddles in to hold it in place. At the other end I ran the hose over the transom to a Rule 800gph bilge pump.
In the well, as an overflow (this prevents flooding the boat and helps circulate the water), I put a 2’’ threaded poly tube. This was drilled through the hull then the well. I then cut it to length, siliconed it, then screwed the skin fitting ends on it. In the drain I ran a 19mm poly pipe from the live well through to the back center well under the floor, on the end in the live well I put 90deg angle and a length of pipe to act as a stand pipe. I also put a rule 750gph pump with an automatic float switch in the back motor well.
To fill the well I turn on the back bilge pump. This fills it very quickly and then the overflow goes out the 2” skin fitting. When I don’t need the well to be totally full I lift the pipe in the well which drains the water through to the back motor well then the bilge pump in there pumps it straight out the side. When the boat’s out of the water and I want it empty I take the elbow off the bottom and pull out the boat bungs.
The two front hatches are large so I cut them in half. I then screwed the forward section down and put stainless hinges on. Instead of putting handles on the lids which can get very hot in the sun I used a 2” piece of webbing. The back deck hatches are drop in so there wasn’t much I needed to do, I just had to cut the centre hatch a bit to suit the motor bolts. I added a fishing rod support that ran from the back deck to the front next to the passenger seat, I used 18mm ply and gave it two coats of 2-pack Wattyl timber preserver.
To carpet over the poly you first have to scour the surface. We used a 4” grinder with a wire wheel on it and it did the job fine. I used Kwik-Grip to glue the carpet down. Make sure you place it down in the right place because once it’s on it’s stuck. Trim the edges with a good sharp knife and you’re done. I used about 3L of glue to do the whole boat.
I thought long and hard about what sort of bracket to use under the mount for the electric and in the end I just pre-drilled the holes and used stainless coach bolts. It is very solid under the bow and took the weight and the movement without a problem. I drilled a hole to take the two 6mm wire cables just in the anchor well (I don’t use an anchor very often) then with some careful juggling I pulled them out next to the passenger seat. The mounting boxes for the two seats make perfect battery boxes and I can just fit in my deep cycle 86t Century batteries. If you use a good quality connector for the power on your electric motor you can put the same end on your battery charger. This means there is no need to pull your battery out or muck around with battery clips just connect it directly to the battery and charge.
With the help from Jay Truant at Adrian’s Marine Centre Bundaberg we put a 6-gang switch panel into the console. To this we connected the live well pump, the centre well bilge pump had one switch that turned on the pump and another that turned on the automatic float switch, the navigation lights (which were mounted on the console), and power to my Legend sounder. This sounds easy but unless you get good advise or get someone who knows what they’re doing, you can easily run into trouble later. Having a lot of wires hanging around in a boat is dangerous so it pays to use wire harnesses and to do what I did, get an expert to do it.
To steer any boat you need a quality set up so I had an Ultraflex system installed by Adrian’s Marine Centre. The helm has three gears in it to distribute the engine torque and load over three points instead of one. This really didn’t mean much to me until I put it on the water and it felt like driving a sports car with power steering. They call it a planetary gear design and if you’re having trouble with your existing steering system drop into your local boat shop and ask for a look at the Ultraflex system you will be impressed.
My choice of motor came with the usual weighing up of all the facts; power, weight, fuel economy, reliability/reputation and of course price, and the new Mercury 40hp EFI four stroke fit the bill perfectly. This is a very quiet, smooth motor that has plenty of power to push the Polycraft through the water.
Because of the unique shape of the Challenger’s hull they need to have extra long support slides on the trailer. You can modify your existing trailer or as I did I chose a custom made trailer. RM trailers at Bundaberg have been making trailers especially for this model since it came out so they have the whole thing designed right. The two main slides sit inside the chines and protrude out over the end of the trailer and this make retrieving the boat a breeze. They centralize the boat onto the trailer even in windy or high tidal run areas. They come standard with fold away jockey wheels, which is must, and the frames are heavy duty with 13’’ wheels.
I have now put a few hours on the boat since I got it and I am still very happy with the choice I have made. The Mercury hasn’t missed a beat and keeps impressing my clients with the amount of power the four-stroke has. The trailer has covered some serious kilometres (tournaments and guiding) on some ordinary tracks and roads without trouble. The hull itself is bullet proof and has made a very stable and safe fishing platform. So if you’re considering a new rig, have a look at these boats they are the only hulls on the market with a four-year warranty so they are prepared to back their product up.
Polycraft Industries 1800 336 603 for your local dealer
Adrian’s Marine Centre (07) 4153 1819
RM Trailers (07) 4159 1942
1) Sanding the front casting deck in preparation for the carpet laying.
2) Fitting the 40hp four-stroke Mercury EFI outboard. This engine is more than adequate to get two anglers, a full livewell and all their gear up on the plane.
3) The finished product with two bream caught on its maiden voyage by Nigel Webster.
4) The front livewell has a large lid for easy access.