TABS 4.35m Sport Fisher Tiller
  |  First Published: September 2003

THE NAME Wayne Pearce may remind many of the nuggety footballer, but the Gold Coast’s Total Aluminium Boat Service (TABS) proprietor lets his boats rather than his body fill that description. Recently we took his 4.35m Sport Fisher for a run on the Gold Coast Broadwater and found that there’s a whole lot of boat packed into this plate aluminium craft.

Although Wayne has been a marine fitter and turner for the last 18 years, TABS is a relatively young boat building and modification company. Wayne and his two employees have been in the business for the past two years and on average, these guys modify three times as many boats as they build from scratch. Because aluminium boats are reasonably ‘modification friendly’, there has been a call for anything from adding a livewell right through to complete refits as a popular alternative to purchasing a new craft. If the quality of their factory boats is anything to go by, the quality of their modification work would be first class.

Matched to a Dunbier trailer, the rig towed and launched with the ease expected from Teflon-lined skids. Being a tiller-fitted plate boat, a four-cylinder sedan would have no problems pulling this rig around. It’s made of 4mm plate bottom and 3mm gunwales.

A 2.15m beam and 16-degree vee at the transom makes this boat as stable as you can expect from a 4.35m vee-nosed craft. As with all boats of this size, stability is almost universally sacrificed for seaworthiness, and the deadrise in the Sport Fisher increases as you move forward under the hull. Resulting is a chop-slicing vee in the bow that eliminates broaching in a following sea and reduces wave slap in small chop.

This became evident as Wayne gunned the 60hp Yamaha four-stroke and trimmed out the engine as we pushed up the Broadwater into a 20-knot southerly. Of course, quartering the chop you can still get wet, although manoeuvring the weight to the back of the boat and clever use of the motor’s trim can reduce this to a comfortable level.

It’s the quality and design of the interior fitout, however, that will interest most anglers, especially north Queensland fishers who universally love a strong boat coupled with a heap of deck space. Instead of a front and rear casting deck, the builders at TABS have made excellent use of cockpit space by reducing clutter in the main deck area.

The driver sits on a fold-away seat and the small side console that houses the switches, fuel gauge and sounder barely protrudes from the gunwale. A port-side rod locker houses your rods while two tailored cushions allow the passenger to sit aft or amidships to balance weight while running. Effectively, it gives the boat a clear, recessed casting deck that would be an ideal fishing platform in rough conditions. The rod locker is elevated from the deck to give feet ample room to slide under and brace in exactly these conditions.

Naturally, the elevated front casting deck offers a superior fishing platform in calm conditions and this platform conceals a 130L divided livewell and semi-dry storage with a carpeted sub-floor. The bow-mounted Minn Kota is accommodated by a strengthened mounting area, however this boat performs best with minimal for’ard weight so the hatch behind the driver’s seat is the best place to accommodate the electric motor battery.

The port aft corner is fitted with a plumbed bait well and a shelf along the starboard gunwale is a handy place to hold miscellaneous tackle and keep the cockpit free from clutter. Wide gunwales are virtually standard on craft of this type nowadays, and this boat also had short grab-rails both fore and aft. As well as being useful during launch and retrieval, they’re essential for mounting rail-mounter rod holders and handy for cross-current anchoring.

Sixty-five litres of underfloor fuel would take this outfit a mile considering the four-stroke’s frugal nature, and fuel would be no problem on a long weekend trip or, indeed, a weekend at Macushla on Hinchinbrook.

As tested the boat retails at $20,900 – complete with Minn Kota and Lowrance sounder – however complete hulls, painted, plumbed and carpeted can be acquired from $9350. Call Wayne at TABS on (07) 5529 3364 or 0411 019 817 to organise a test drive or for any more information on the boats he makes or how he can modify yours.


Max hp - 60

Length - 4.35m

Beam - 2.15m

Rod locker - 7 foot

Livewell - 110 L

Bottom - 4mm plate

Sides - 3mm plate

Fuel - 65L underfloor

Deadrise at transom - 16 degrees

1) At wide open throttle, the Sport Fisher cuts through small chop easily.

2) Instead of a front and rear casting platform, the TABS boat uses cockpit space very effectively. Check out the passenger seating options.

3) The deadrise steepens towards the bow to offer this chop-cutting bow.

4) The driver’s seat stows away to maximise fishing space at rest.

5) The small side console houses gauges and can be easily accessed by undoing two screws.

6) 110 litres of divided livewell will keep any tournament angler happy. Remove the divider and it’s a great fish-bin.

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