I thought, ‘there’s something different here’ as I surveyed the Smartwave 3500 on its Sealink trailer just prior to launching.
This boat is beamy for its length and has an overall look from bow to stern that we just don’t see in alloy craft of this size.
Up forward, a very sharp entry gives way to a more gradual vee and the shape astern is reminiscent of a cathedral hull, thanks to a central sharp vee and prominent rail-like sponsons.
The Smartwave is made from a smooth-looking material that is actually high-impact, UV-stabilised polyethylene. So it looked different because of the design and material and also unfamiliar because it’s a recent import from New Zealand.
On the water, things got even more interesting. The underwater shape provides good stability and it went like the clappers with the 15hp Suzuki two-stroke on the transom. With two aboard, it hit 20 knots (37kmh).
The Smartwave also has impressive handling as the sponson/rail set-up astern allows the hull to really dig into turns. No matter how sharp the boat turned, it just would not side-slip.
The polyethylene construction allows for some smart moulding work and items to be fastened in place.
The Smartwave’s rotomoulded hull is double-skinned with pumped into the cavity between the skins creating a great deal of positive buoyancy.
Up forward, a large bow eye makes for easy towing and securing. The Smartwave 3500 also has a self-draining anchor well large enough for an anchor and quite a lot of rope, with the cleat right in front.
A little farther aft is a full-width padded seat with floor-level storage space below.
The seat is high enough to offer some legroom but a youngster would probably be best seated there.
Side rails up front are within easy reach of the forward seat.
A central thwart large enough for two people to fish from or sit on while under way is quite comfortable and there is adequate leg height while seated.
There is also storage for larger items, small tackle packs, PFDs and such under the seat’s hinged lid.
In the aft quarter paired cushioned seats offer room for one person either side of the tote tank, which is set up in a dedicated recess just ahead of the engine.
The seat is large enough to be useful and the padding soft enough to make longer journeys quite comfortable. The seat is also in just the right position to make driving the tiller-steer craft quite enjoyable.
Other features include aft side rails and oars neatly stored in special clips up front with the blade section fitting into a stern recess. There are also paired rod holders.
The transom sports a metal bracket to assist in mounting the outboard. Aft of the transom is an extended section of hull that looks like a boarding platform in a larger craft, but on the Smartwave it also extends the hull’s wetted surface, contributing greatly to the excellent ride and performance.
Overall, the Smartwave presented a simple layout that worked just fine. After all, why make things more difficult than they need be?
In test runs with two aboard, the Smartwave’s slippery hull kicked onto the plane at around 7.5 knots (14kmh) which was certainly not making the Suzuki 15hp two-stroke work very hard at all.
A neat cruising speed of 13.4 knots (25kmh) came just as easily and without much fuss from the outboard. A very brief burst from the still new engine recorded the aforementioned 20 knots.
Like several other polyethylene boats I’ve reviewed, the Smartwave 3500 produced a very forgiving and soft ride at virtually all speeds.
The rotomoulded plastic tends to give a little, which reduces impact from waves or chop quite substantially. Running hard back over our wash produced nothing more than a very slight impact; there’s no doubt ride quality is going to be a strong point of these craft.
The other really strong aspect is the sheer stability of the Smarwave 3500, with little tendency to lean. For people in the market for a small, knock-around boat that is stable, easily powered, durable and very safe, this one is hard to pass up.
Overall, I think the Smartwave 3500 has a lot to offer and it could easily double as a handy fishing boat or useful tender.
The Smartwave 3500 is around $2995 and a package with a 15hp Suzuki two-stroke outboard manual start, bimini top, safety gear and trailer is around $7000.
The hull is rated for engines up to 25hp but I think that much power would be overkill unless you’re consistently hauling very heavy payloads. The 15hp was ideal power and well matched to the craft in my view.
|Deadrise:||Variable with central vee|
|Towing:||Family four-cylinder sedan or wagon|