THIS YEAR has certainly been the year of the bowrider, with their popular all-round appeal. Freedom Boats has long made a few cuddy cab models around that 5m mark that have been popular with entry level boaties who want a good boat without having to pay huge costs. Freedom’s new edition is the 6m Mirage, and being just that bit longer it moves into an entirely different class of boats, delivering more scope in usage.
The area of the hull in contact with the water is increased with this size of boat, resulting in a hull that’s very stable, both on the plane and at rest. Because one of the industry objectives is to introduce new people to boating it’s important that these people can step into a boat that’s stable. This is especially important for a boat that’s likely to see all kinds of passengers, from children to the elderly. I found the stability on the Mirage to be very good and there was no problem walking from one side of the boat to the other or from the bow to the stern.
The next benefit that we see out of this hull is its ability to get up onto the plane quickly and efficiently and maintain a good level ride without any bow high problem.
You’ll often see four to six people in a bowrider style hull as opposed to two to four in other styles of boat. This is because bowriders are laid out for social and watersport activities where you often team up with a few more friends, and this can see the weight distributed in a number of different positions on the boat. The Mirage, with its 2.5m beam, has that width and surface area of the hull to deliver these options. She climbs smartly and smoothly onto the plane with surprising ease, and if you push the hammer down the boat can pull a couple of skiers.
Another benefit of the 2.5 metre beam is that gives a larger deck area. The rear lounge spreads from one side of the boat to the other so you can easily stretch out and soak up the sun, or sit a few across the lounge. Underneath here is a mountain of storage which keeps that deck uncluttered.
Seated at the steering position you can stretch the legs right out and slouch back into the seat as you cruise about. While you can stand up and drive there is no real need as you can see perfectly in the seated position. The passenger also enjoys plenty of leg room and the dash in front has a sunken glove box to be used as an esky. Fill it full of ice and drinks and you’re away.
The bow section seating of the boat is where the boat gets its name from, as your passengers are able to ride in the bow section of the boat while travelling. This is where a fibreglass bowrider has an advantage over similar aluminium boats. Because fibreglass boats are heavier and constructed differently in the entry of the hull, they can deliver a smoother ride – so in most average conditions you don’t get bounced all over the place while travelling around.
On those trips where you put on a full crew on the weight can be distributed well so you have people located aft, centrally and for’ard. The front lounge does have ample room to sit around, so like the rear lounge you can sprawl out or sit around. There is additional storage under these seats. There is also more storage in the side pockets, as well as in the optional under-floor ski locker, so this pretty well keeps the area you move around in free. When you hop in the boat and move around you soon appreciate the amount of space that you do have. Once you throw a few people in, free room becomes all that more important.
The lay of the design has a fold back targa top which folds up or down, giving you the choice of shade or sun. Tasteful striping with contrasting carpet and canopy puts a nice overall finish on the Mirage.
Once you’re underway those passengers seated up the bow end of the boat can enjoy a good dry ride without being bounced all over the place. There’s no porpoising whenever you hit a few bumps or trim the engine out.
With hydraulic steering fitted to the boat, the Mirage is a pleasure to drive and easy to handle. This is an attribute you tend to notice more so on a boat like this, as you’re more likely to do a few tight turns etc. when towing skiers or tubes. It’s a real pain if you’re always battling the torque through the steering wheel or struggling to turn back the other way out of a tight turn.
For our test run we were lucky enough to jump in a Mirage that had one of the first Yamaha 150hp four-stroke engines fitted to it. I dare say that this particular engine is going to have quite a broad and significant impact on boats suited to this size horsepower. The four cylinder engine is actually the same weight or near enough to the weight of the fuel-injected two-stroke outboards. Normally the four-stroke would be heavier.
The engine is super quiet and there is no lacking in power whatsoever through the entire rev range. No matter what speed you sit at, a push of the throttle meets with an immediate response. The beauty of quiet, fume-free running on top of better fuel economy is a bonus with any sort of boating. When water sports become involved where you are constantly working the throttle and pushing the engine harder, the fuel savings at the end of a day’s boating can be significant.
Complete BMT package price: $59,500. Test boat supplied by Freedom Boats ph. (07) 5447 1655.
Make/model - Freedom Mirage
Style - Bowrider
Construction - Fibreglass
Length - 5.9m
Beam - 2.5m
Weight - 800kg (hull only)
Fuel - 170L underfloor
Max hp - 225
The six metre Freedom Mirage sits nicely on the water and has no problems with regards to space when it comes time to taking family and friends out on the water.
The rear lounge can be a particularly inviting place to relax.
Yamaha’s new 150hp four stroke outboard is one fine piece of machinery and perfect on the Mirage.
It’s nice to see a boat that has plenty of room to move about in.
Padded coamings and filled in side pockets add to the overall appeal of the Mirage.
It’s not hard to picture yourself sitting up the front with the rest of the crew.