Brisbane-based boat dealer, Karee Marine, has always had an interest in fast boats. The principal, Louis Coetzee, is an emigrant from Southern Africa and one of the toys he’s brought out with him is a Zimbabwe-built Thunderbird bass boat.
Bass fishing and tournament bass fishing is pretty big in southern Africa – countries compete against each other in Test Match fishing events and anglers compete for their national colours every season. The South African market is nearly 100% fibreglass boats, and a South African trait is to strap big outboards on small, strong hulls to get where you want to go – quickly.
So, with the current interest in glass tournament boats, Karee has arranged to import Thunderbirds to satisfy the part of the Australian market that is starting to ask a little more of their boats than off-the-shelf aluminium craft can provide.
I hooked up with Karee’s Dean Wilson to take the older model Thunderbird for a run and to see how the hull performed.
The test boat was fitted with a 175hp Mercury EFI two-stroke and it spun a 21”, 4-blade Trophy propeller. After a short while it was apparent that this set-up would take at least another inch or two in pitch. Holeshot, handling and manoeuvrability was exceptional, but top end speed was lacking, with the engine revving to its limit.
Internally, the design doesn’t differ much from a standard bass boat layout – fuel and livewells down the back, along with underfloor dry storage. Rod lockers, electric motor batteries and more gear storage is up the front. There are two comfortable seats and a 40L insulated cool-box located in between.
The helm is comfortable and there’s plenty of room for all gauges on the dash, however a small windscreen would have stopped plenty of the tears that appeared at high speeds.
There will be two models of hull available – a Pro Tournament that’s rated to 175hp and a lighter Tournament model that’ll be rated to 90hp. Imported Thunderbirds will be supplied on locally made Dunbier trailers.
Call Karee Marine on (07) 3875 1600 for more information. They have special deals for the first five of these boats sold.
Hull Material – GRP
Length – 5.3m
Beam – 2.3m
Hull Weight – 650kg
Rod Lockers – 2 x 2.6m
Livewells – 2 x 50L
Max HP (Tournament) – 90HP
Max HP (Pro Tournament) – 175HPReads: 556